Step Aside Almonds: This Superfood Nut is Your Next Best Snack
There’s a situation happening in aisle three at your local grocery store—perhaps you’ve noticed? Daily, multiple customers are found stalled and staring at the snack, nut and seed shelves. When asked if they need help finding anything, these disappointed looking shoppers often struggle to describe what they’re looking for and usually mumble a “no, thanks” before moving along.
Can you relate to this head-scratching search for a bite that’s new and delicious? Well, step aside almonds, Barùkas nuts are your next best snack. Keep reading to learn how this ancient superfood nut could end your snack standoff and why eating them is good for you and the planet.
Meet the Superfood Hunter
When Darin Olien, Barùkas co-founder and well-known superfood hunter, was traveling in South America, he was introduced to baru nuts by Rodrigo Figueiredo, a native Brazilian and co-founder of Barùkas. These superfood nuts, also called barùkas, come from the Baruzeiro tree in a remote savannah called the Cerrado, which is about three times the size of Texas.
After tasting the nuts, Darin fell in love with the idea of bringing baru to the attention of the health food world for the nutritious benefits—but he also hoped the process could be part of reforesting a part of the planet devastated from fires and farming practices. You see, the eco-system the nuts thrive in is being wiped out. Corporations are burning and clearing the land for cattle and for farming single crops on a grand scale. The Cerrado is now at a deforestation level higher than that of the Amazon.
The Barùkas team went to work on research and development, which included constructing the right machines to crack open the fruit’s hard shell, as well as organizing a sustainable process of extractivism. Each barùka fruit houses one nut per fruit and must be hand-picked once the fruit falls from the trees. Hand-picking also assures that some fruits are left for animals to eat and naturally disperse seeds in the process for replanting. This job of collecting barùkas provides income for thousands of villagers, gathering fruit in the forests where they live.
Barùkas Totally Have Superfood Status
Darin calls barùkas the healthiest nut on the planet, and rightly so. “They have an unusual amount of fiber that is critical to healthy digestion and very much lacking in Western diets,” he says. Each 30-gram serving has 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 10 grams of fat, 46 milligrams of calcium and 280 milligrams of potassium, along with many other health-boosting micronutrients. As far as nuts go, barùka nuts have the highest antioxidant capacity with a rating of 5,982 on the ORAC scale, surpassing pecans at 5,382 and soaring past almonds, which come in at 1,335.
In contrast to what is widely available to us in our grocer’s snack aisle, Darin insists it’s what these nuts don’t have that might be more important than what they do. “Because they’re found in the forest, not grown on a plantation like most other nuts, they’re untouched by industrial pesticides and fertilizers.”
Barùkas: Good For You, Good For the Planet
Barùkas make a satisfying snack all alone, but there are many culinary uses, including homemade milks and nut butters, or pairing them with chocolate (our favorite). The nut itself is gently roasted, just as the people of the Cerrado eat them, which gives them a rich taste and the perfect crunch. “They have a flavor that’s often described as a hybrid of different nuts, with notes of cocoa and popcorn and a satisfying crunch,” says Darin’s team. They’re also ideal for making pestos, granolas, pilafs, salads and desserts.
Back when Rodrigo first told Darin the story of the baru nut, they only dreamed about the day they’d be part of bringing baru and the global awareness that goes with the nuts to those outside the Cerrado. Darin says, “Besides being one of the healthiest nuts for you, they have the smallest environmental footprint of any nut on the market. While many nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water to grow annually, the Baruzeiro tree’s unusually deep roots take water from underground aquifers, requiring no artificial irrigation.”
Because Darin and his team believe these supernuts must be shared, they’ve made sure they can keep up with the demand and give back to the planet at the same time. Barùkas not only seeks to end deforestation, but also to reverse it. They plan to rebuild the forest quickly, as trees love to grow in this climate that uses only rainwater for irrigation. For every five pounds of Barùkas nuts sold, they’re committed to planting a tree in the wild, setting their long-term goal to plant 20 million new trees.
To find more ways your daily wellness can care for yourself and the planet, read how using reef-safe sunscreen is making an impact in our oceans.