Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a sour berry that is native to the Amazon rainforest. Although it may be a new superfood to the Western world, it has a long history of use by people in the Amazon. In fact, people consume it to enhance overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. This is all thanks to the impressive anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
What Is Camu Camu?
Exhibiting a tart flavor similar to cherries, camu camu berries come from the camu camu shrub. Each shrub typically yields 26 pounds of berries per year. The berries are yellowish/red and, although consumed fresh, they are commonly ground into a powder and mixed with other foods.
From a nutritional standpoint, camu camu is one of the densest food sources of vitamin C, but it also exhibits other minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. In regards to the vitamin C content, 100 grams of camu camu fruit offers 2,145 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 3,575% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). It also has an estimated 355 micrograms of carotenoids, with the dominant polyphenols being beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Camu Camu also contains magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc, manganese, and iron.
The high levels of vitamin C may encourage the brain to produce more serotonin, which contributes to better mood. Many anecdotal reports found that camu camu may counteract depressive symptoms, but no clinical studies exist presently. Research does suggest, however, that people with vitamin C deficiency often experience more feelings of depression or lethargy. This is because vitamin C is a cofactor that the body needs to convert tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan in serotonin production.
May Fight Inflammation
One study monitored men who smoked and drank 0.3 cups of camu camu juice for one week. At the end of the study, the vitamin C was able to reduce interleukin-6 (IL-6) and high sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), two inflammatory markers. Camu camu may be able to reduce inflammation because it contains ellagic acid, an antioxidant that helps to inhibit aldose reductase, an inflammation-triggering enzyme. One study also found that the extract of camu camu seeds may also suppress inflammation.
Supports The Immune System
Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for a healthy immune system. Camu camu has 60 times more vitamin C than an orange, and 56 times more than a lemon. In addition to the vitamin C in camu camu, the ellagic acid and zinc also contribute to optimal immune function. The dense concentration of nutrients from camu camu may also improve gut health and fight free radicals in the body. Both of these actions help prevent against bacterial infections, viruses, and other issues. One animal study from 2018 found that camu camu may help prevent obesity by positively altering gut microbiota, which is tied to optimal immune function.
Improves Oral/Gum Health
Camu camu fruit contains antiviral and antioxidant components that may fight gum diseases like gingivitis. Several studies confirmed that antioxidant-rich foods help reduce the presence of free radicals, which can inflame the gums and accelerate the progression of periodontal problems. Several anecdotal reports of people with gum disease claimed that taking two teaspoons of camu camu powder per day helped improve gum health.
Supports Health Vision
Carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants, have the ability to protect eye health, but they also play other roles in the body. One of their primary roles is reducing oxidative stress in the ocular system. One study found that camu camu’s carotenoids may prevent macular degeneration and cataract development. This ability may help you see clearly into old age. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over one the age of 55 in the Western world. Experts predict that the number of people with this condition will triple by the year 2025, so adding camu camu to your diet may be a preventative step.
Both camu camu fruits and seeds are rich sources of powerful antioxidants and nutrients. Some research is limited, in regards to the claims mentioned in this article, but it is a nutritionally dense superfood. You may want to consume it in small quantities, as too much vitamin C may be harmful to your health. You shouldn’t consume more than 200% of the RDI of vitamin C per day, so keep this in mind if you add camu camu to your diet.