The most impressive health benefits of annatto include its ability to promote healthy digestion, strengthen bones, prevent neural tube defects, promote healing, lower fevers, boost eye health, eliminate headaches, reduce nausea, and protect distress.
We use annatto seed in the formulation of many of our soaps.
Since traditional days to modern times, annatto has been used for different purposes in the following ways;
- Cosmetic products: Beauty and skincare industries use it in cosmetics and personal care products to impart color and for its antimicrobial properties.
- Insect repellent: It is also used as mosquito and flies repellent.
- Pharmaceutical products: It is used to impart color to capsules, vitamins, and pills.
- A cure for headaches: Crushed annatto leaves mixed with coconut oil can be applied on the forehead to treat headaches.
- Condiment and dye: The paste and powdered form of annatto are used in a variety of cuisines including those of Jamaica, Caribbean, and Latin America, to impart bold flavor, color, and aroma.
- Annatto Oil: Its seeds are also used to make oil which is an essential ingredient in many Asian dishes.
- Meat Marination: Annatto-colored seasonings are used to marinate meats. .
Annatto is relatively safe to use. However, it could have certain side-effects.
What is Annatto?
Annatto is a natural food coloring and condiment that is extracted from the seeds of the achiote fruit. The achiote tree (Bixa Orellana) is a tropical shrub or small tree that grows in Central and South America. The flowers of this tropical tree are white or bright pink, but the fruit is the most desirable part of the plant, made up of spiky brown and red pods that grow in clusters. When those pods dry and crack open, they expose seeds of red color, from which red pigment can be extracted. This is why the achiote tree is often called the lipstick tree. It is also called chitoe, onoto, bija, colorau, urucum, or atsuete in different regions.
Annatto’s strong pigmentation makes it a natural dye which can range from yellow to deep orange to red, and it has plenty of applications in cosmetics. It is also used as a condiment in certain parts of the world. It has a floral and nutty smell and is mildly peppery to taste. In the Caribbean and Central American cultures, annatto has been used for thousands of years to treat everything from mild to potentially life-threatening diseases, making it an ancient “superfood”.
Annatto has a rich source of such as cis-bixin, , and vitamin A. It also contains minerals like calcium, sodium, and iron. It has a relatively high content of dietary fiber. The high concentration of tocotrienols, which are similar in effects and structure as vitamin E, makes this plant substance powerful.