In desert areas of the Americas, mesquite seed pods have long been used as a food source by the indigenous peoples, who traditionally ground them into a powder to be used as a flour or processed into a sweetener, a sweet beverage, or a fermented alcoholic drink. Today, mesquite powder is proving to be a versatile food with a high nutritional and flavor value.
Because mesquite powder is ground from the entire pod, including the seed, it is high in protein (11–17%). It is also rich in: Lysine, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Dietary fiber.
Mesquite is highly effective in balancing blood sugar. For thousands of years, Native Americans in the Southwest and Mexico relied on mesquite as a food staple, and there was no diabetes in those communities. Today, as the people have moved away from their native foods and become less active, diabetes and obesity have skyrocketed. Fifty percent of the Pima and Tohono O'odham people over the age of 35 reportedly suffer from diabetes, and it is believed that the removal of mesquite from their diets is one of the main causes.
Because its sugar is in the form of fructose, which does not require insulin for metabolism, mesquite helps maintain a constant blood sugar level for a sustained period of time. With a glycemic index of 25 and a high percentage (25%) of dietary fiber, it digests more slowly than many grains, preventing sharp rises and falls in blood sugar. Mesquite thus supports the diet of diabetics, and helps maintain a healthy insulin system in others.
Mesquite powder has social and ecological as well as nutritional value. The marketing of mesquite products harvested in arid rural areas fights desertification and provides a sustainable economic alternative to cutting down trees for rangeland, charcoal production, or other purposes.
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