Leading a healthy lifestyle remains top of mind for Canadians, with many of us looking for nutrient-rich superfoods to incorporate into our diets.

That’s where the baru seed comes in; a rich, plant-based protein source that’s loaded with nutritional value. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it — this special legume comes from the Dipteryx alata tree, found only in the South American Cerrado savanna.

“Baru is a versatile seed that’s similar to a peanut in taste and texture, and full of nutritional value,” says Shand Santos, Founder and Owner of Baru Baron, a company currently offering the seed in Canada. “It’s high in protein, fibre, antioxidants, and healthy fats.”

A food for all

To increase their nutritional value, the seeds are lightly roasted. “This deactivates an antinutrient called trypsin inhibitor, making it possible for your body to digest their proteins,” explains Santos. Once roasted, they can be eaten as a snack, milled into an almond flour substitute, and even turned into a butter — a new product that the company will be releasing early next year.

Baru seeds are also certified nut-free. “Many Canadians suffer from nut allergies, so baru is a great alternative,” says Talia Marcheggiani, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto. Marcheggiani has been recommending baru to many of her plant-based patients who are looking for alternative protein sources.

As the seeds become more popular, their extraction also provides a profitable opportunity for many communities. “They’re a more sustainable alternative to deforestation,” says Shand. “Cerrado communities are foraging baru fruits as a source of revenue, which is creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.”