Camu camu, also known as Myrciaria dubia, is a small berry, cherry-like in color.
It originates from the Amazon rainforest but has become popular globally for its numerous health benefits.
The fresh berries of camu camu are quite tart, leading to their common use in supplements such as powders, pills, or juices.
This berry is recognized as a superfood, primarily for its high levels of certain nutrients and potent plant compounds, including a significant amount of vitamin C.
Below are 7 science-backed health advantages of camu camu.
1. Camu camu is a great source of vitamin C
Vitamin C is crucial for various bodily functions. It’s essential for boosting your immune system and necessary for producing collagen, a protein that’s vital for healthy skin, bones, and muscles.
Additionally, vitamin C serves as a strong antioxidant, safeguarding your cells against unstable molecules known as free radicals. These radicals are a normal result of cell processes, but can increase due to stress, poor diet, and exposure to pollutants.
When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it results in oxidative stress, linked to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Consuming antioxidant-rich foods like vitamin C can help avert oxidative stress and protect against free radical damage.
Camu camu offers up to 3 grams of vitamin C per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fruit.
However, it’s often not eaten fresh due to its sour taste and is usually available in powder form. The powder, with all water removed, has a higher concentration of vitamin C per gram than fresh berries.
Product labels indicate that camu camu powder can provide up to 750% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake per teaspoon (5 grams).
Note that the vitamin C content in camu camu products may differ based on factors like the fruit’s growing conditions.
Summary: Camu camu is abundant in vitamin C, an essential antioxidant for skin health and immune function.
2. Camu camu is filled with powerful antioxidants
Camu camu boasts remarkable antioxidant properties, being rich in vitamin C and other potent compounds like flavonoid antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
Antioxidants are agents that defend your cells from damage by free radicals. A surplus of free radicals can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
The high antioxidant levels in camu camu are especially beneficial for smokers, as smoking generates excessive free radicals, causing oxidative stress.
In a study over a week involving 20 male smokers, those who drank 0.3 cups (70 ml) of camu camu juice with 1,050 mg of vitamin C daily experienced significantly reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein.
Interestingly, these markers did not change in the placebo group who took a vitamin C tablet. This suggests that the mix of antioxidants in camu camu berries has more potent antioxidant effects than vitamin C alone.
Summary: Camu camu offers a mix of antioxidants that fight against harmful molecules called free radicals, which may be particularly beneficial for smokers’ health.
3. Camu camu might help reduce inflammation in your body
Long-term inflammation can harm your cells and is associated with diseases like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Camu camu fruit pulp contains ellagic acid, an antioxidant known to block aldose reductase, an enzyme that triggers inflammation.
A study involving male smokers found that consuming 0.3 cups (70 ml) of camu camu juice with 1,050 mg of vitamin C daily for a week notably decreased inflammatory markers like interleukin (IL-6) and high sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP).
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These effects weren’t observed in a control group that consumed a vitamin C tablet. This indicates that camu camu might have a unique blend of components that help combat inflammation.
Additionally, camu camu seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory substances. A study on mice showed that extracts from these seeds reduced inflammation.
While these findings are encouraging, more research is needed to fully understand camu camu’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Summary: Camu camu shows potential in lowering inflammation, but more studies are required to confirm these effects.
4–7. Other possible advantages of camu camu
Research on camu camu’s health benefits is still emerging.
However, some studies suggest it may offer the following advantages:
- Weight reduction. Animal research suggests that camu camu might help decrease body weight by burning more calories and positively influencing gut bacteria.
- Better blood sugar control. A study on 23 healthy individuals indicated that camu camu could help reduce blood sugar spikes after consuming a high-carb meal.
- Antimicrobial effects. Laboratory studies show that camu camu’s peel and seeds may inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria like Escherichia coli and Streptococcus mutans.
- Improved blood pressure. Both test-tube and human studies suggest that the berry might aid in lowering blood pressure by helping blood vessels relax.
It’s important to note that most current research on camu camu comes from laboratory and animal studies, so more comprehensive human studies are necessary.
Summary: Camu camu might offer benefits like antibacterial properties and could aid in lowering blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar levels, but more research is needed.
How to incorporate camu camu into your diet
Due to its very sour taste, camu camu is not typically consumed raw.
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It’s available in forms like pulp, puree, and juice, often sweetened for better flavor.
The most common form is powdered camu camu, as removing water increases its concentration and extends its shelf life.
You can easily mix camu camu powder into smoothies, oatmeal, muesli, yogurts, and salad dressings. Combining it with other flavors helps mask its sourness.
To preserve its nutrient content, especially vitamin C, add camu camu to foods after cooking.
Camu camu is also available in extracts and concentrated supplement forms.
Summary: Due to its sourness, camu camu is often used in powder form or as a supplement, and can be added to various foods for nutritional benefits.
Potential drawbacks of camu camu
The main side effects of camu camu stem from its high vitamin C content.
A single teaspoon (5 grams) of camu camu can offer 682 mg of vitamin C, which is a whopping 760% of the daily recommended intake for this nutrient.
The safe upper limit for vitamin C intake is 2,000 mg per day. Consuming it in quantities below this limit is usually safe for most individuals.
However, ingesting too much vitamin C can lead to digestive issues, like diarrhea and nausea. These side effects typically go away once you reduce your vitamin C consumption.
Since vitamin C increases iron absorption, people with iron overload conditions, such as hemochromatosis, might need to avoid camu camu.
Nevertheless, for the majority of people, camu camu is safe, and overdosing on vitamin C is rare because it’s a water-soluble nutrient and not stored in the body.
Sticking to the recommended serving size should prevent excessive vitamin C intake. It’s wise to read product labels, as different brands may vary in vitamin C content.
If you’re on medication, it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider before starting camu camu powder or supplements.
Summary: Camu camu is a rich source of vitamin C. But excessive intake might cause digestive issues or problems for people with iron overload conditions.
Both the fruit and seeds of camu camu are nutrient-rich and packed with potent antioxidants, including vitamin C and flavonoids.
Research suggests that camu camu could be effective in reducing inflammation and improving blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
While the fresh fruit is sour, incorporating camu camu into your diet is easy through powders or concentrated supplements.
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