Native to the Andean region of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, sanky or sancayo, is the name of the cactus and its fruit, which is packed with health benefits.
Sanky is a round fruit with a bright green outer layer full of prickles or spines. Its fleshy, gooey inside is white and green with small, black edible seeds. In this sense, sanky is similar to the prickly pear (tuna) and pitaya (dragon fruit), with an acidic taste like that of camu camu.
The plant is endemic to the southern Andean region of Peru as well as Bolivia and Chile, growing at an elevation of 3,500 and 4,200 m. You can find it in Huánuco, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Arequipa. It can also be found as far west as the highland region of Santa Cruz de Flores in the province of Cañete (Lima region).
It’s said the chasquis (messengers) of the Inca empire consumed sanky during their long distance travels, benefiting from the fruit’s energy boosting properties. For that reason, there have been attempts to mass produce the fruit for the energy drink market. Though it has yet to be cultivated massively, local producers use the fruit as the main ingredient in fruit juices, marmalades, cookies and breads, among other products. Get your hands on this super fruit to enjoy the following benefits.
1. Potassium rich
Once consumed, the mineral potassium acts as an electrolyte, regulating fluid balance in the body. Sanky has five times more potassium than a banana and its consumption can help reduce blood pressure and prevent ailments such as osteoporosis and kidney stones.
2. Source of Vitamin C
Sanky has a high concentration of vitamin C, an important dietary antioxidant. As a nutrient, vitamin C helps boost the immune system, it promotes the production of collagen (for skin health and bone strength), and can support cardiovascular health.
3. Saponins to prevent hair loss
Saponin is a chemical compound found in many plants and legumes that when shaken with water, produces a soapy foam. The saponins in sanky can be used to do a deep cleanse of the scalp, helping to prevent dandruff, greasy hair and even hair loss. Local manufacturers have made shampoos with sanky as the main ingredient.
4. Eat sanky for the fiber
Rich with fiber, eating sanky helps with digestion, keeping a healthy colon and to prevent constipation. Including sanky in a high fiber diet can help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Our bodies have more calcium than any other mineral, making up much of our bones and teeth. Calcium supports nerve signaling (communication between the brain and the rest of the body), muscle movement and cardiovascular function. Sanky is rich in calcium, just another reason why you should include it in your diet.
Cover photo: Peru.info on Pinterest
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