Annatto seeds are the seeds of the achiote tree, which is a shrub native to Central and South America. The fruit and seeds are the most useful part of the plant, which grow in clusters with spiky reddish-brown pods and seeds. Annatto seeds are commonly used to dye cosmetic products, but here we discuss a number of surprising health benefits that may have you reaching for ground annatto seeds to sprinkle on all your favorite recipes.
Consume the earthy-flavored seeds to improve the following health problems:
Annatto seeds, just like many other seeds, are high in antioxidant compounds. Annatto is particularly high in antioxidants that benefit skin health, which is one of the reasons it is often added to cosmetic products. Annatto paste applied to the skin helps fight wrinkles, sun damage and other signs of aging, while consuming the seeds provides similar benefits from the inside out.
Perhaps the most surprising health benefit of annatto is how effective it is against gonorrhea. According to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Biomedical Research, annatto applied both topically to outbreaks and taken internally was able to reduce symptoms of gonorrhea. This may be due to the inhibition of the enzyme lens aldose reductase that the plant provides.
Carotenoids are what make annatto seeds such a bright red, and the same compound is what makes carrots orange. Carotenoids benefit eye health and prevent degenerative eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.
Annatto seeds are surprisingly high in calcium for a plant. Annatto seeds can boost calcium concentrations in the body, reducing bone-related diseases and making it less likely you will suffer from bone breaks and weakening bones as you age.
Annatto seeds are high in fiber and help boost the absorption of vital nutrients. These two benefits combined make annatto seeds a great choice to boost healthy digestion and prevent constipation.
In addition to high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, annatto seeds also contain high levels of folate. Folate is essential for preventing birth defects and helping human babies develop properly while in the womb. Pregnant women are encouraged to consume high levels of folate during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects in their infants.
Annatto has properties that can calm an upset stomach, relieve heartburn and ease the pain of stomach cramps. Added to herbal tea or other warm beverages, annatto can provide stomach-pain relief.
Due to the antioxidant properties of annatto, it is beneficial for treating minor skin wounds. The antioxidants encourage the production of healthy cells and tissues that will reduce scarring and skin damage.
Antioxidants are essential for preventing the spread of cancer. As a plant high in antioxidants, annatto likely has benefits that will reduce the growth and spread of cancer tumors. Norbixin, found in annatto seeds, is particularly effective at reducing the spread of cancer cells in in vitro studies.
With so many amazing health benefits, it’s time to pick up annatto seeds for your kitchen today. Try adding ground annatto to recipes and sprinkling salads and home-baked goods with whole seeds for a powerful boost to your health from the inside out.
—The Alternative Daily