What are Maqui Berries?
There is a berry growing wild in the Patagonian region of Chile. A berry that grows so profusely that it is yet to be cultivated. A berry that is so high in antioxidants that it is already being referred to as the new superfruit.
I am talking about the maqui berry, a berry that is still not very well known to most of us. We already know how good for you many types of berry are. We are familiar with the antioxidant abilities of blueberries, elderberries, acai berries and many others but recent research has revealed that the maqui berry trumps them all.
This deep purple berry is known scientifically as Aristotelia chilensis and has been harvested and enjoyed by the local people for many long years. Maqui berries grow wild and are widespread in the region growing on maqui bushes in fields, hillsides and forests.
Because they grow so profusely in the region, the bulk of the commercially available maqui berries are harvested by the local Mapuche indians. They are already busy harvesting the berry for sale but business looks set to boom.
These local people may have a difficult job keeping up with demand now that the secret is out and the berries are becoming more readily available to the wider public.
The Amazing Antioxidant Activities of Maqui berries
We have long been aware that many types of wild berry are good for us and research has proven them to be very high in antioxidant activity. The forests of Europe and South America are teeming with berries but it is only recently that researchers have discovered that the forests of South America may possess even more antioxidant rich berries than we were previously aware of.
Researchers have found that maqui berries contain very high levels of anthocyanins – pigments responsible for the purple color of plants like violas and delphiniums and certain other fruits. Anthocyanins have powerful antioxidant activity and a type of anthocyanin called delphinidins are found in unusually high levels in maqui berries.
These compounds are known to have excellent natural anti-inflammatory properties meaning they can help treat nearly every form of chronic disease from heart disease and cancer to arthritis and diabetes. These antioxidants also help prevent cholesterol from being oxidized in the body which reduces the risk of heart disease like atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
Research published in Medical News Today reported that not only were maqui berries very high in antioxidants, they were in fact several times higher in antioxidants than acai berries (previously believed to be the most powerful natural antioxidant). On the ORAC scale used to measure the antioxidant value of food, maqui berries contained more anthocyanins than any other food researchers have ever tested.
The Health Benefits of Maqui Berries
1. For Heart Health
Research has consistently demonstrated that antioxidants like those found in maqui berries are beneficial to your heart. The anthocyanins present in very high levels in maqui berries can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Cholesterol oxidation has been linked to a host of heart conditions and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
There have been very few studies done into the health benefits of maqui berries specifically but numerous studies have been done on anthocyanin extracted from various berries. The researchers have consistently found that berry anthocyanins have a cardio-protective effect on rats and believe that humans would benefit in a similar way. (1)
2. For Diabetes
Maqui berries may also exert an anti-diabetic effect. Researchers at Rutgers University found that an anthocyanin formula made from the maqui berries had a beneficial impact on glucose tolerance and blood sugar levels in obese mice with hyperglycemia.(2) Anthocyanins from maqui berries have also demonstrated the ability to increase glucose uptake in insulin sensitive muscle cells.
3. For the Skin
Most everybody by now is aware of the important role that antioxidant play not just in terms of disease prevention but also their anti-aging abilities and their role in achieving healthier skin.
Getting as many plant antioxidants into your system as you can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age blemishes and help you maintain your skin’s health for longer. They also help your skin to recover quicker after damage or illness.
A preliminary study published in 2015 also suggests that maqui extract can be applied topically to protect you from the damage done by UV rays. (3)
4. Lung Injuries in smokers
A recent study published in 2015 suggests that maqui berries can help smokers to overcome respiratory damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers found that maqui extract improved the resistance of the participants to respiratory infections caused by their habit while also reducing oxidative stress in the lungs. (4)
5. For Dry Eyes
One of the recent spate of studies done on the effects of maqui berries looked at how they could be used to help alleviate dry eyes. The Japanese study which was published in 2014 examined the effects of maqui berry extract over a 60-day period.
They found that quality of life improved and the volume of tear fluid increased significantly for the patients who took maqui berry at a dose of 60 mg a day. It should be noted that the study was very small scale and did not make use of a control group but the findings are promising. (5)
6. For Weight Loss
Plenty has been written online about the weight loss benefits you can achieve from adding maqui berries to your diet. The fact that maqui berries are so nutritious and can help detox your system makes them ideal as part of a diet regime.
Maqui berries help flush the toxins from your system meaning that your body will function more effectively overall. They can have a positive impact on your metabolism and digestion and help you to absorb food more effectively with less being stored as fat.
They are certainly not a miracle fat busting cure. Simply eating maqui berries or taking a supplement is unlikely to have any real impact unless you incorporate them into a wider health regime that includes dieting and exercise.
The Bottom Line
The fact that maqui berries are so incredibly rich in natural antioxidants gives them numerous health potential that we are only just beginning to appreciate and that we have only touched on in this article.
They may help to ward off serious killer diseases like heart attacks and cancer. They can help you to detoxify, boost your immune system and improve metabolic function. They might even slow down the aging process and help you lose some of the excess flab.
How to use Maqui Berries
Unfortunately, maqui berries perish quickly after being picked so getting hold of the fresh fruit is difficult for the majority of the world. Maqui berries are however being used to produce a number of different types of supplement.
Maqui berry extract is available in liquid, powder and tablet form. While tablets may be the most convenient option, the powdered extract is ideal for use in smoothies and juice recipes.
Let us know if you have ever eaten maqui berries or if you have ever tried any of the supplements made from the fruit. Do you feel that they had the desired effect and would you recommend using maqui berries?