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FLORES, Guatemala (CNN) -- In the rain forests of Central America grows the nutrient-rich Maya nut. The marble-sized seed can be prepared to taste like mashed potatoes, chocolate or coffee. To those who stumble upon the nuts on the ground, they're free for the taking.
With one tree able to produce as much as 400 pounds of food a year, using the Maya nut prevents rain forest clear-cutting to harvest other foods and increases populations' food supplies. Dried, the Maya nut can be stored for up to five years -- a lifeline for regions with frequent drought.
The Maya nut has high levels of nutrients including protein, calcium, fiber, iron and vitamins A, E, C and B.