Annatto Seeds come from a plant that grows in Latin America (also called achiote) in the Caribbean and other parts of the world. Annatto has clusters of pods that contain lots of red seeds that have many health benefits and have been used in cooking for hundreds of years. Annatto was used as body paint by natives and today its used in lipsticks and other cosmetics for a nice red color… and the leaves also have health benefits. Annatto seeds go all the way back to the time of the Aztecs where the tree was called the lipstick tree. And in India Annatto is sometimes used to make the red mark on the forehead.
Annatto Seeds or Achiote has a very slight peppery flavor, and it’s sweet and some people call it “Poor Man’s Saffron”. Annatto imparts a nice yellow red color to food, and it is rich in antioxidants that rid the body of free radicals thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease, strokes, and even cancer.
When Annatto pods are ripe they split open and expose the red seeds inside that can be added right to a pan with a little oil, and this creates a nice base for all kinds of culinary dishes. Then the seeds are removed and the cooking begins. Or you can soak the seeds in water and use the water and you can grind the seeds into a powder.
Commercially sold Annatto Seeds are ground so you can shake a little Annatto Seed into your food… really easy. Annatto seeds are used in Mexico, Caribbean, and even in the Philippines in cooking. It has also been used in the making of some types of cheese in Europe for that nice orange color. Annatto Seeds have been used in cakes, snacks, cheese, margarine, cereals, butter, and even cookies… as a natural food color. And Annatto oil has been used in shampoos, creams, and lotions because it’s very good for the skin.
Annatto Seeds contain two types of carotenoids – norbixin and bixin, one is fat soluble and the other water soluble so you get the best of both worlds. And they are powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal agents and antioxidants. Annatto also contains a tocotrienols which are powerful anticancer agents that help to prevent blood supply being made to support cancer tumors.
Annatto Leaves are a powerful anti-inflammatory agent… and when infused in water can be used for treating skin wounds, rashes, cuts, burns, infections, and more.
And the leaves are full of tocotrienols that lower cholesterol and especially LDL or bad cholesterol thus helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes… and Annatto can also lower blood pressure.
The leaves make a great anti-inflammatory tea that works well for soothing inflammation of the GI tract. And it also reduces stomach acid and works well for healing diarrhea. Plus Annatto leaves help to balance blood sugar levels and prevent spikes in blood sugar… thus making it great for those who suffer from diabetes. You can make Annatto leaf tea boil a dozen leaves in a liter of water for 12 minutes and then let cool, then drinking one cup 3 times a day.
Annatto leaves are also great for prostate enlargement and for helping with prostate cancer too. And Annatto leaves also soothe the reproductive tract and can be used as a vaginal antiseptic.
Annatto contains lots of Vitamin C for boosting your immune system and for preventing DNA damage, protein for building strong muscles and enzyme reactions, B Vitamins for energy and mood enhancement, Vitamin E for boosting up the immune system and for eye health, calcium and phosphorus for strong bones, and iron for anemia.
Annatto also contains many plant based agents such as saponins for lowering cholesterol and helping to prevent cancer, cyanidin for arthritis and diabetes prevention, tannins for asthma, cancer, and anti-aging, ellagic acid which is a powerful antioxidant and anticancer agent, and salicylic acid which is a great anti-inflammatory and anticancer agent.
Annatto seeds and the leaves are good diuretics helping to rid the body of excess water weight and edema. And Annatto seeds are good for heartburn and stomach problems in general, and they help with liver and kidney disease, and helps to clear away mucus from the lungs… thus helping with bronchitis, asthma, and coughs.
You can order Annatto powder in capsules, as bulk powder, or the whole seeds on-line or ask for them at your local health food store… or you might find Annatto at your local market as a spice.
Enjoy Great Health!
Dr. Paul Haider – Master Herbalist and Spiritual Teacher for over 20 years, helping people to recover and feel healthy. You can also find Dr. Haider on FB under Dr. Paul Haider, Healing Herbs, Shambala Spiritual Transformation Institute, Meditation for the Soul, and Relax Into Success, Punjab teas, and at www.paulhaider.com – feel free to contact him any time. Also check out Dr. Haider’s radio show at http://www.thesourcecenterradio.com/The-Relaxed-Soul.html July show to be about “The Power of Compassion”