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A miracle under the Andes


Scientific name: Tropaeolum tuberosum

Tropaeolum tuberosum, popularly called cubio, mashua, mashwa, majua or bitter potato, is a plant native to the central Andes, and the highest concentration is found in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru between 3,500 and 4,100 ms. n. m. In Colombia varieties that grow between 2,600 and 3,500 m are cultivated. n. m.

Due to its strong flavor, product of glucosinolates, the tubers are not eaten raw but stewed, baked or fried. Also is known as añu or ysaño.

Medical uses
The inhabitants of the Andes consume mashua, citing its medicinal effects related to pain in the kidneys and liver, skin rashes and prostate disorders.

In a study with rats, a 45% decrease in blood levels of testosterone / dihydrotestosterone was found. This decrease seems to be related to the presence of isothiocyanates in the tubers.

The antibiotic, insecticidal, nematicidal and diuretic properties of isothiocyanates corroborate several of the uses of T. tuberosum in Andean folk medicine. It offers antibiotic properties against Candida albicans, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus albus, parallel activity of benzyl isothiocyanate at 100 micrograms.

Other studies carried out showed that purple mashua genotypes have a high content of phenolic compounds, comparable to those found in known antioxidant sources.10 Furthermore, purple mashua tubers had an antioxidant capacity of eight to ten times greater than the yellow ones.

Food uses
The mashua tuber is a staple food in the Andean regions of South America, raw it has a pungent flavor, which disappears when cooked. It is used in the preparation of soups, desserts, stews and other dishes. Its flowers, leaves and buds are also edible in the form of a salad.


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