Vitamin A Source
Aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa L.f) is the edible fruit that contains the highest concentration of beta-carotene (Vitamin A). Compared to the carrot and spinach (both known for having high Vitamin A content) the aguaje fruit contains five times more.
The Aguaje fruit´s high beta-carotene (Vitamin A) (a) content makes it an unparalleled dietary source for children and pregnant women since it helps form and maintain healthy teeth, soft tissues and bones, mucous membranes, and skin. This vitamin promotes good eyesight, specially in low light environments, and it is also necessary during reproduction and breast feeding.
The Aguaje palm tree (Mauritia flexuosa L.f), also called buriti in Brazil and moriche in Colombia and Venezuela, was the first Amazonian palm tree described by science in 1781. Today, it is considered to be the promissory plant that could improve the quality of life for the men and women living in the Amazon.
The tree of life
If you were going to choose a palm tree to represent the Amazon Rainforest, it would definitely have to be the Aguaje. In Amazonian cities like Iquitos – Peru, where the people eat approximately 148.80 metric tons of this fruit per day (b), the women who sell this fruit, called “aguajeras”, have turned into an important part of the local economy. Aguaje is a multiple use species since its leaves, inflorescence, fruit bunches, seeds, and even its roots are used by local populations. Parrots colonize the dead trees in order to build their nests, and it is food for the delicious American palm weevil. And if all that were not enough, its fruit pulp is one of the most nutritious tropical foods (its Vitamin A content is five times higher that of the carrot). Besides all the benefits it possesses, its environmental services are even more overwhelming.
Aguaje – Lessening the world´s climatic change
Aguaje is a large storehouse of carbon, which is why its role in lessening the world´s climatic change is of great importance. It stores more than 600 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare, witch is three to five times more important than any other tropical ecosystem. Additionally, it is very important in the foundation of the tropical food chain. This valuable specie can be considered the most ecologically, economically, and socially important palm tree of the Amazon Rainforest, which is why, two centuries ago, the explorer Alexander Von Humbolt, rightly called it the tree of life.