Horchata, the Valencian 'superfood', on examination

The latest gastronomic boom in the US, Germany or Japan has Valencian flavor; horchata is the end-to-end trend of the world. The properties of the chufa, the tuber from which the horchata is made, make it a superfood that has captivated even NASA. Its nourishing properties and its ability to withstand high temperatures have been launched from the fields of the Valencian region of l'Horta Nord, where it is grown in 19 municipalities, to space and is already part of the food of astronauts.

The chufa is one of the oldest seeds in the world and has mainly been grown in Valencia, where the first references date from the fourteenth century. Its health effects were also well known; spread word of mouth. An 1824 document, published by the Regulatory Council of the Chufa Designation of Origin of Valencia, already spoke of the horchata "as a remedy for mouth and gum ulcers, colic, discharges and head stuns". Science has ratified these properties and many others in recent years, and described which components of the chufa produce them.

As friendly to the heart as olive oil

Researchers from the University of Valencia have concluded that the chufa has very healthy digestive effects. The starch it contains makes it a formidable remedy against diarrhea and helps prevent gases and flatulence, and the enzymes it provides facilitate digestion. On the other hand, if we designed a cardio-healthy menu, horchata would be the ideal refreshment. Because of its oleic acid content, very similar to that of olive oil and nuts, it is useful for controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels and preventing arteriosclerosis.

Horchata, el ‘superalimento’ valenciano, a examen

In few cases you can speak with so much ownership of a superfood,but it must be noted that the qualities described by scientists refer to the Chufa of Valencia, which is distinguished from the rest by its cultivation and drying. The tuber is in the field between eight and nine months and then dried by hand. Germo Alcayde, director of the Regulatory Council of the Denomination of Origin Chufa of Valencia, points out that "the chufa rather than dried, heals, as is the case with ham, extending it in the cambras (chambers) for at least three months". This process, which has remained the same for centuries, "makes the tuber naturally dehydrated, thus ensuring that it retains its properties".

How to distinguish quality horchata in the supermarket

El sello de la Denominación de Origen Chufa de Valencia en los envases garantiza que la chufa se ha cultivado y secado de forma natural.The seal of the Denomination of Origin Chufa de Valencia on the packaging guarantees that the chufa has been grown and dried naturally.

Scientific endorsement has made horchata one of the biggest plant drinks in the world, it can be found in London's coolest restaurant or a vegan supermarket in Berlin. In Spain, until a few years ago, drinking it was as summer custom as the song of summer, yet now many people already take it all year round. But how can a consumer know that the purchasing person has these exceptional nutritional properties that researchers talk about? It is as simple as looking for the seal of the appellation of origin in the packaging, which guarantees that the horchata has been made with Valencian chufa.

One of the reasons for its success is that it is suitable for all kinds of people. The chufa does not contain glucose, and if no sugar is added to it in the production, it can be part of a diabetic's diet. In some ages and situations it is even recommended: in pregnancy because the arginine it contains, an amino acid, in addition to modulating blood pressure, is essential for the fetus and newborn; and in childhood and adolescence because its calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus content is especially important during the growth stage. These minerals and other nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, also make horchata a more complete plant-based drink than others for vegetarians.

The fashionable ingredients in gastronomy and cosmetics

In recent years the uses of chufa and horchata have multiplied, above all, in gastronomy by the many possibilities it offers. Horchata is used in the production of flans or biscuits, and the chufa, in the form of flour, for cooking: it is gluten-free and triumphs among followers of the Paleolithic diet. The tuber has also been incorporated into spirits, nougats, beers, oils, and has even begun to be used in cosmetics. Chufa and horchata are fashionable and it's not by chance: they play in the Champions League of foods with more healthy effects.