What is Annatto? Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects


What Is Annatto?

Annatto is a natural, vivid hue that can vary from dark orange to yellow as a dye. The tree’s fruits resemble a heart and are coated with thick hairs that are spiky and tangled. The pod opens readily with the help of a hand, exposing the fruit’s scarlet seeds.

The achiote plant—present naturally in Central America, South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean—is the source of the extract or seed to make annatto. They are extensively used in Latin America as a dye or medicine and as an ingredient in many food items.

tree seeds

The seeds are processed into different goods, such as a powder, an emulsion, or an oil. However, the flesh and seeds are mainly extracted to create the powerful edible dye.

Annatto Uses

Annatto is the reason for the yellow hue of margarine, butter, and cheese. All of these would have a light creamy color without an organic dye. Cheddar cheese got its distinctive orange color due to annatto. However, many people think that the bright yellow color originates from non-natural substances.

Annatto uses to color numerous other commercial products like processed meats, smoked fish, drinks, and many other packaged foods. In addition, many cosmetics use it because of its vibrant hue, earning the title “the trees of lipstick.”


benefits of annatto powder

Annatto powder is an excellent magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, and iron source. The powder also acts as an antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal.

a) Tightening Skin

A skin treatment based on the annatto powder tightens the skin exceptionally well. It is because the antioxidants in its powder act as a skin repair. The annatto seed oil has similar benefits for the skin.

b) Calming Irritated Skin

lipstick tree

The antibacterial and antiseptic properties in the annatto seed efficiently soothe irritated skin. In addition, it decreases redness and eases irritation. That’s why its powder suggests for treating insect bites and preventing the possibility of further irritation. The itching due to mosquito bites or other insects can cause skin irritation.

c) Treat Wounds

The antioxidant properties in annatto powder make it beneficial in treating minor skin injuries. In addition, applying the powder to the wound allows the body to create healthier tissues and cells.

d) Protect Skin

annatto protect skin

Annatto is an excellent source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is especially useful in the Caribbean. Further, its high concentrations reflect the sun’s rays and shield the skin from damage.

Furthermore, annatto powder triggers melanin production, significantly protecting the skin from harm and helping maintain radiant and healthy-looking skin.

e) Annatto is Good for Tanned Skin

Are you looking to have natural, sun-kissed skin? Then sunbathing may be beneficial to you. But it can cause skin health issues. If you want to prevent it, applying annatto powder to the skin can give it an attractive golden hue while nourishing and keeping the skin’s glow.

Apply the treatment before applying the sunscreen. Then, dress in your finest bikini, and soon you’ll become the most talked about Caribbean Beach girl.

f) Reduce Blemish


Face masks help to reduce blemishes on the skin. Apply a natural face mask made of annatto powder to eliminate scars and marks. It will give you natural, flawless skin.

g) Anti-aging Property

One of the annatto powder’s benefits for your skin is the natural anti-aging remedy that your skin needs. Apply its powder regularly as a skin treatment in a paste form. It can help lessen the signs of aging, like wrinkles, acne, and other imperfections, to create smooth and youthful-looking skin.

h) Healthy Cosmetics Coloring

annatto for cosmetics coloring

In the cosmetics and skincare industries, annatto seeds are a staple ingredient. It’s possible because its seeds can provide natural red or orange hue to products for the skin. Also, its powder is a natural, safe coloring for cosmetic products. In addition to providing color, it also offers benefits to the skin, including the capacity to slow the aging process due to its high antioxidant levels.

Side Effects

Annatto is safe for human ingestion when used for nutritional purposes. Yet, in practice, there are instances of allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.

Cautiously use those who are lactating or pregnant, as well as people with diabetes susceptible to hypoglycemia, and be cautious with spice for two weeks before surgery.

Annatto Nutritional Value

100 grams contains:

  • energy – 108 Kcal;
  • Cellulose – 11 g;
  • fat – 0 g;
  • protein – 4 g;
  • carbohydrates – 20 g;
  • folic acid – 87,8 mg;
  • vitamin C – 21 mg;
  • Calcium – 75 mg;
  • Sodium – 5 mg

How to Cook With Annatto

cooking seeds

Many dishes native to Central and South America, such as chorizo pollo, are known for their unique yellow color. Annatto also uses to color stews, soups, and spice rubs.

It’s a component of Goya’s Sazon seasoning. It will say con culantro and achiote. Making rice appear more vibrant, which is characteristic of Caribbean black beans as well as yellow rice. It includes many recipes for tandoori cooking.

Numerous Latin American dishes rely heavily on annatto for flavor. It is simple to prepare; grab only a tiny amount and mix it in with water.


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