If you have used any food coloration, you would probably have used annatto powder in your food. Annatto powder is made from the seeds of Annatto (Bixa orellana) plant. It is also known as Achioke powder. Aside being used in food coloration, the seed powder is also used as dye in industrial processes. Annatto plant grows well under a warm, and humid weather conditions, and produces several ovoid , fleshy fruits that become red when they’re mature, and covered with bristles on the pod surfaces.
Once the fruits are mature and dry, the fruit pod would split open to reveal the seeds which are usually 20-50 in numbers. The seeds are the real deal due to their commercial values as annatto pigment. The seeds are bright orange – red with flashy coats. This coats impact the peppery flavor with a hint of nutmeg aroma which annatto powder is known for.
what are annatto powder used for?
Annatto powder has different uses, which ranges from seasoning, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, dye, to insect repellant and so many more, including its oil.
Annatto powder for cosmetics
Due to its color, annatto powder is used in cosmetics. The powder is usually mixed with other products for skin care. for instance, the powder is made into a paste and rubbed on the skin to remove blemishes such as wrinkles and eczema. This may be due to its antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds present in the seed powder. When consumed, the same effect is seen to occur from the inside.
As food seasoning
Annatto powder is used by food processing industries for coloring foods and adding flavor to it. It is usually added to stews, soups, and sauces. It is also used in smoked fishes and meats, and added to beverages.
You can purchase annatto food seasoning products in supermarkets around you.
What are the benefits of annatto powder
Annatto seed and leaf powder are rich sources of vitamins and minerals which the body needs for proper functioning. Also there are several non-nutritional bioactive compounds present in the seed and leaves.
Annatto powder supports healthy pregnancy
The achiote fruits are fortified with an impressive amount of folate. This important vitamin has been shown to possess a wide range of functions in the living cells. One of the functions in pregnancy is to promote health growth of the fetus and the development of the neural tube. It also prevent any birth defects of the child’s brain.
Folate also plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to every part of the pregnant woman’s body, including the fetus growing inside her. The adequate production of oxygen prevents the onset of pregnancy associated anemia. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat more annatto fruits. Also, they can eat other folate fortified fruits such as Winged bean, and Tamarillo fruits.
Achiote powder promotes strong bone
There are a significant amount of calcium in annatto seed powder. This calcium plays important role in increasing the bone density, maintain health bone growth among children, and in pregnancy, as the lack of calcium can cause the formation of bowlegs. Calcium is also important for older people, as it maintains the bone health and strength among older people, thereby preventing the occurrence of osteoporosis.
Annatto powder maintains healthy eyes
Achiote powder possesses a high content of carotenoid, which functions as an antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent the harmful effects of free radicals on the cells, including the cells of the eyes. The carotenoids present in annatto also strengthens the ocular system, preventing the onset of cataract, and ensuring a healthy and strong vision even at old age.
vitamin E is also present in the annatto powder. The deficiency of vitamin C is associated with the weakening of the light receptors cells in the retina and other cells of the eye. when this deficiency is allowed to linger, then this condition can lead to vision loss over time and immune systems will become weakened.
Annatto for your skin
Annatto seed powder contains a biologically active compound, Tocotrienols, which like spermidine supplement, would restore youthfulness to your skin. Although unlike spermidine supplement, annatto paste is can be applied topically on the skin, one can also brew the seed powder like coffee and drink. This way, the tocotrienols would not work on the skin surface, but acts from the internal body, as a strong antioxidant, and mop up all the free radicals that would otherwise attack your skin cells and cause their deaths.
Because of the anti-aging benefits of annatto seed powder, annatto paste made from the seeds are usually applied , topically, to reduce the signs of wrinkles, blemishes, and other imperfections, while also tightening up the skin and making it look younger.
Achiote seed powder for ulcer
Annatto seed powder may be of great help in fighting ulcer. It is usually consumed to calm stomach discomfort. The seed powder prevents heartburn, and some stomach upset which may be attributed to ulcer or bacterial and viral infection. The seed is also a source of fiber. It also helps in preventing gastritis and constipation, helps in removing bacteria especially H. pylori.
Achiote helps in detoxifying you liver and kidney
The liver and kidney play very crucial roles in the body. While the liver is the seat of metabolism, and is responsible for processing whatever enter the mouth, the kidney is saddled with the responsibility of removing every unwanted wastes in the body fluids. By this roles, both the kidney and liver is face with toxic substances everyday.
When you take in a poisonous substances, it is being metabolized by the liver, this is why the liver first dies off in the attack of poisonous substances. When the toxic compound overpowers the liver, it destroys every cells of the liver through the release of excess free radicals in the form of oxidative stress. The same thing is observed in the kidney, especially with regard to heavy metals intoxication. When heavy metals accumulate in the kidney cells overtime, the individual will suffer kidney stones, kidney failure, and other related kidney diseases. The use of annatto powder in your daily feeding as a detoxifier will greatly help in maintaining healthy life and youthful looks.
Annatto seed powder treats Gonorrhea
In traditional medicines, the seed and leaf powder of annatto made into a paste and applied topically for the treatment of gonorrhea. Annatto powder can also be taken orally for this same purpose. This claim has also been supported by several studies which showed that the leaf and seed extracts of Bixa orellana plant have a wide spectrum of activities against several infectious organisms. However, the leaf extract was shown to exhibit a higher activity.
So if you are treating skin infections, you can make good use of the leaves and seeds of annatto to bath or scrub your body with.
Achiote for wounds
If you injured yourself or is injured by someone else, the leaf powder would be a great help. It improves and fastens wound healing, removes the scar and stops skin irritation of any kind. All you would need do is to apply annatto seed and leaf paste on the wounding area. The natural antimicrobial compounds also protects the skin from infectious pathogens.
Fleischer TC, Ameade EP, Mensah ML, Sawer IK. Antimicrobial activity of the leaves and seeds of Bixa orellana. Fitoterapia. 2003 Feb;74(1-2):136-8. doi: 10.1016/s0367-326x(02)00289-7. PMID: 12628409.
Vilar, D.deA., Vilar, M. S., de Lima e Moura, T. F., Raffin, F. N., de Oliveira, M. R., Franco, C. F., de Athayde-Filho, P. F., Diniz, M.deF., & Barbosa-Filho, J. M. (2014). Traditional uses, chemical constituents, and biological activities of Bixa orellana L.: a review. TheScientificWorldJournal, 2014, 857292.