I first heard about aguaje – also known as buriti or Mauritia flexuosa — while traveling in Peru. We were in the small city Tarapoto which is situated in the middle of the jungle. At virtually every street corner you could see women with knives in their hands, quickly and expertly peeling the scaly skin off of a fruit to reveal bright orange flesh beneath.
After asking around, I learn that the weird fruit was aguaje – and all the locals were quick to tell me that it was good for women’s hormones.
Peruvians (as well as Brazilians and other South Americans in rainforest areas) eat a lot of aguaje. It grows on a type of palm tree which can get to 35 meters tall. The locals climb up the palm and hand forage the aguaje fruit!
In addition to munching on the raw fruit, they also make it into juice, jam, and desserts. Many of the ladies I saw in Tarapoto also sold bags of aguaje paste. You mix it with water and strain out the seeds to make your own juice.
Using my background in nutrition, I dug deeper to find out whether there was any truth into the health benefits of aguaje that all the locals were raving about. I was surprised to find that science has a lot to say about the benefits of aguaje – especially for women’s health.
1. Aguaje Balances Hormones (and might make you curvier)
Aguaje is best known for its high amounts of phytoestrogen. You might have already heard about the many female health benefits of phytoestrogens, such as:
- Fighting PMS
- Alleviating menopause symptoms
- Preventing osteoporosis
- Preventing certain types of cancers
- Helping with weight loss
- Boosting libido
(And NO, phytoestrogens don’t cause cancer nor do they “feminize” men – these plant hormones are a LOT different than the estrogen our bodies produce).
The aguaje fruit contains a type of phytoestrogen called phytosterols – which are considered to be the most potent.
The aguaje phytosterols are so potent that sources even swear that…
Aguaje will increase the size of your butt and breasts!
There isn’t any clinical information to back this claim up (not too many institutions are eager to fund research about increasing body curves), but users swear by it and cite the curvy bodies of Amazonian woman as ample proof.
2. Aguaje Fights Inflammation
Whether it is heartburn, skin conditions like eczema, migraines, or even behavioral problems, researchers now know that inflammation affects every aspect of our lives. Thus, the key to fighting disease is to reduce inflammation.
Aguaje is a potent anti-inflammatory. As talked about in this systematic review of publications, aguaje’s anti-inflammatory action is likely due to its high amounts of antioxidants as well as healthy fatty acids such as protocatechuic acid and oleic acid.
3. Aguaje Is Great for Hair and Skin
Aguaje oil is made from the skin of the fruit. It has very high amounts of vitamin E, a nutrient which is well-known for improving skin and keeping it looking youthful. To put this in perspective, aguaje has 25 to 31 times more vitamin E than avocados!
Aguaje also is anti-microbial. By applying it directly to your skin, you can moisturize and fight acne at the same time.
For stronger hair, you can apply aguaje oil directly to your scalp to help repair damaged follicles and reduce inflammation.
Tip: Put a bit of aguaje oil in your normal conditioner to improve hair strength. For more youthful skin, you can make an aguaje face mask.
4. Aguaje Increases Collagen Production
In the battle against wrinkles, women are willing to pay $800 for a beauty cream! That’s a real shame…especially because they could just be eating aguaje instead.
The reason that wrinkles occur is because collagen in the skin starts to break down as we age (collagen is what gives our skin its elasticity). As a result, the skin starts to become more fragile and thinner.
This study found that aguaje oil administered to rats caused an increase in collagen fibers. This later study found similar results, showing that aguaje could be a good natural solution for increasing collagen.
Collagen is also important for muscles, joints, and bones. So, even if you aren’t concerned about wrinkles, you could still benefit from increasing collagen production in the body.
5. Aguaje Is a Good Source of Vitamin A (beta carotene)
Vitamin A is a group of vitamins which includes beta carotene. These vitamins are crucial for immune function, vision, and reproduction.
When it comes to natural sources, aguaje is one of the richest sources of vitamin A. It contains 5x more carotenoids than carrots!
6. Aguaje Fights Signs of Aging
Why does this matter to aging?
Because aging is caused by damage to cells.
By taking aguaje to increase your antioxidant levels, you’ll be able to save more cells and prevent signs of aging.
7. Aguaje Fights Male Infertility
As talked about here, aguaje fights testicular oxidative stress which damages sperm and also inhibits the body’s ability to produce sperm.
This isn’t a women’s health issue. However, if you are a women hoping to conceive but your partner has low sperm count or motility, then taking aguaje could help increase his fertility.
8. Aguaje Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is now the leading cause of death amongst women. One of the health benefits of aguaje is that it prevents blood clots from forming.
In this study, it was found that aguaje oil blocked platelet secretion and prevented them from adhering, as well as increased the speed of leukocytes retained on platelet surface. Further, the aguaje oil also reduced atherosclerosis-related inflammation.
9. Aguaje Fights Breast and Ovarian Cancer
In vitro studies talked about here have shown that aguaje had a cytotoxic effect on five human tumor cell lines – including breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The anti-cancer benefits likely lie in the high anti-oxidant and phytoestrogens. Further research needs to be done before we can say for sure why aguaje is so potent at fighting cancer, but that doesn’t mean women can’t benefit from the superfood now.
Where to Buy Aguaje?
Unless you live in South America, you probably aren’t going to find any fresh aguaje fruit. To be honest, the fruit doesn’t taste that great anyway — so you might have even preferred taking it as a supplement instead of fresh.
The best aguaje supplement that I know of is by Botanical Beauty. They make a good-quality aguaje oil. Yo get get it here.