By Sara Tipton
Camu camu berries aren’t widely known, but perhaps they should be! This small berry has got many purported health benefits and comes in a variety of different forms.
Native to the Amazon rainforest, camu camu, or Myrciaria dubia, is a sour berry, similar to the cherry in color. Fresh camu camu berries tend to be very tart in flavor, which is why they’re commonly found in supplement form as powders, pills, or as a juice.
Camu camu is considered a superfood as well, mainly due to its high content of certain nutrients and powerful plant compounds, including vitamin C. In fact, according to James Duke, Ph.D., camu camu has the highest vitamin C content in the world.
Vitamin C is a powerful weapon for your immune system during cold and flu season. The normal “FDA Recommended Daily Allowance” is 60 mg of vitamin C per person per day. Additionally, it is hard to “overdose” from Vitamin C, as it is a water-soluble vitamin. What this means is that any excess of it not utilized by the body’s metabolism is excreted in the urine.
Vitamin C helps strengthen your immune system and is needed for the formation of collagen, a protein that supports your skin, bones, and muscles. What’s more, vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals. Though free radicals are a normal byproduct of cellular function, too many can be formed as a result of stress, poor diet, and exposure to pollution. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants in your body, it leads to a condition called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Along with a super dose of vitamin C, camu camu also has impressive antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Excess free radicals in your body can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer over time. These antioxidants could be helpful to those who smoke (and if you smoke, you should be trying to quit). However, that’s proven to be difficult and understandably. Smoking creates excessive amounts of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress. But there’s good news! In a 1-week study in 20 male smokers, those who drank 0.3 cups (70 ml) of camu camu juice containing 1,050 mg of vitamin C daily had significantly lowered oxidative stress and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP). The placebo group showed no changes at all!
Camu camu can also fight inflammation. Chronic inflammation has become a big problem for so many Americans, as diets have consistently worsened over the past century. Chronic inflammation negatively impacts the health of your cells and has been linked to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease. An ingredient in camu camu fruit pulp may help though. The pulp contains ellagic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit the inflammation-triggering enzyme aldose reductase.
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While scientific research is limited, there are a few other possible benefits of camu camu:
1.Reduced weight. Animal studies indicate that the berry may reduce body weight by increasing the number of burnt calories and positively altering gut bacteria.
2. Improved blood sugar levels. Research in 23 healthy people showed that camu camu may minimize the spike in blood sugar after eating a high-carb meal.
3.Antimicrobial properties. In a test-tube study, the peel and seeds of camu camu reduced bacterial growth of the potentially harmful bacteria Escherichia coli and Streptococcus mutans.
4.Healthier blood pressure. Test-tube and human studies have observed that the berry may help reduce blood pressure by promoting the dilation of blood vessels.
HOW TO USE CAMU CAMU
Camu camu is very sour and most find it unpleasant on its own because of that. However, instead, you can find camu camu in the form of pulp, puree, and juices which are often sweetened to improve the taste.
Still, the berry is most popular in powder form. This makes sense, as the water is removed, making the concentration of camu camu higher and prolonging shelf-life.
Camu camu powder can be easily added to smoothies, oats, muesli, yogurts, and salad dressings. Combining it with other flavors will help to mask the sour taste and make the camu camu powder it more palatable.
This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult a medical professional if you have any questions about your health.
This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on June 29th, 2020
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