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.