Annatto Seeds (Achiote): The Colorful Spice for Cancer Prevention, Skin Care and More


Annatto is a food coloring and an orange-red condiment taken from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana). It is often used to impart an orange or yellow color to foods, but sometimes also for its aroma and flavor. The color of annatto comes from various carotenoid pigments, such as bixin and norbixin, present in the reddish waxy coating of the seeds.

Health Benefits of Annatto:

1. Cancer Prevention

Antioxidants play an extensive role in preventing the growth of cancer. Norbixin, which is one of the pigments present in annatto seeds is known to be a powerful antioxidant.

In current research, it was reported that norbixin contains an anti-mutagenic effect on healthy cells that were exposed to cancerous cells and free radicals, meaning that the seeds may be able to help in preventing a variety of different cancer cells from spreading.

2. Healthy Digestion

The high level of fiber present in annatto seeds, and also the edible leaves of the achiote plant, is good for digestion. It promotes the smooth passage of food into the bowels and the efficient uptake of nutrients.

Also, fiber helps to lower cholesterol and manage diabetes as this can help optimize the glucose and insulin levels in the blood. This has also been turned to as a diabetic management herb for generations.

3. Promote Eye Health

Annatto is rich in carotenoids, which may benefit eye health.

It is high in norbixin and the carotenoids bixin, which are found in the outer layer of the seed and help give it its vibrant yellow-to-orange color.

In an animal study, supplementing with norbixin for 3 months have reduced the accumulation of the compound N-retinylidene-N-retinylethanolamine (A2E), which has been associated to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among older adults.

But, human studies are needed before annatto can be recommended for this purpose.

4. Skin Care

Tocotrienols, which are present in annatto, act as antioxidants, and this is one of the reasons that it is so sought after for skin treatment.

If you have been looking for an anti-aging solution for your skin, annatto paste that is made from the seeds can be topically applied to reduce the signs of blemishes, wrinkles, and other imperfections, while also tightening up your skin and making it look younger.

5. Strengthens Bones

A significant level of calcium found in annatto makes it essential for you if you want to supplement your bone mineral density and ensure durability and strength as you age. Also, it helps prevent osteoporosis.

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photo source: spiceography