Everyone has heard that blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and elderberries are extremely good for health. But only a few people are aware of the maqui berry, one of the healthiest and super berries from South America. Maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis) or Chilean wine berry is a type of berry native to the rainforests of Chile and some regions of Southern Argentina. This Patagonian superfruit tastes delicious. One should visit during the harvest season and enjoy the tangy sweet flavor of fresh maqui berries.
Native population Patagonia have been using these berries, its leaves and steam for ages and believed to have strong healing powers. Today research has verified strong antioxidant properties of these berries.
These berries can be found in many dietary supplements. They can be eaten raw, dried or even processed into jams and juices. Dark purple pulp of maqui berry finds its use in making Maqui wine. In South America, traditionally it is used to make fermented drink Chicha and is believed to bring stamina and strength to warriors.
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Nutritional value of Maqui berry
According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the maqui berry contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants. Some studies suggest that these antioxidants have the ability to slow down the growth of tumors and breast cancer cells. Maqui berry also provides us with an excellent amount of omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids along with vitamins like Vitamin C, vitamin A, and minerals like iron, calcium and potassium.
Some initial lab results have shown that Maqui berry extract had highest antioxidant activities amongst other known natural antioxidants like acai berry, pomegranate, lemon and other berries. This antioxidant property is attributed to presence of anthocyanins and in particular to delphinidin which is potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Roughly maqui berries have 1.37% of antioxidants by weight and increases in concentrate form. It is because of this property, supplement industry have been showing interest in the fruit.
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Health benefits of Maqui berry
In traditional medicines of South America, Maqui berry has been used as astringent and tonic and treat diarrhea, dysentery, fever and inflammation. Maqui berry contains compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This fruit is found to offer a wide range of health benefits, some of which are explained below:
Maqui berry is exceptionally high in antioxidants
As mentioned earlier, maqui berry contains high concentrations of antioxidant compounds, such as the anthocyanins which help in protecting your body from the harmful effects of free radicals. These free radicals are often responsible for causing damage to the DNA, which can further lead to early aging, age-related diseases and other serious health problems like cancer. In one commercial report, Maqui berry is said to be having highest ORAC value amongst fruits. Higher the ORAC value, higher is the antioxidant activity. ORAC value of Maqui fruit was 20 times that of lemon and nearly three times of blackcurrant and blueberry. However no such comparative scientific study is ever published.
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Anti-aging properties of maqui berry
Maqui berry contains high levels of antioxidants that help to slow down early or premature aging by fighting off the free radicals in your body. It is these free radicals that are responsible for causing damage to the DNA and cells, leading to the signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. Maqui berry has also been found to be useful in nourishing and rejuvenating the cells of the skin, thus making your skin glowing and youthful.
Drinking Maqui berry juice is good way to promote heart health
Oxidation of cholesterol is one of the many factors that lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and hardening of the arteries. The powerful antioxidant compounds found in maqui berry helps in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol in the blood and so the regular intake of these berries is great way to keep your heart healthy and protect it from diseases.
Maqui berry may help with type 2 diabetes
According to studies conducted on mice, the extract obtained from maqui berry may prevent increase in blood sugar levels and thus help avoid complications associated with type 2 diabetes. Studies published in the journal food chemistry reveals that the high amounts of anthocyanins in these berries produce improvements in fasting blood sugar levels and also lead to better glucose tolerance in mice. A treatment carried out with the anthocyanins in these berries was found to cause an increase in non-insulin mediated and insulin mediated glucose uptake in insulin-sensitive muscle cells.
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Anti-viral effects of maqui berry
According to a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research (November/December 1993 edition), the maqui berry extract showed considerable in vitro activity against the herpes simplex virus type 2, HSV-2. Infection caused by this virus is a common sexually transmitted disease known as genital herpes.
Anti-inflammatory effect of maqui berry
Lab studies indicate extract of maqui berry has anti-inflammatory property and potential benefits. It is potentially useful over skin inflammation and other inflammatory diseases including arthritis. Scientific research is active in area of utilizing maqui berry and its anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Maqui berries help you lose weight
Adding maqui berry to your weight loss diet can help you lose your weight significantly. This amazing fruit has been found to promote weight loss in many ways. It increases the metabolism and helps in burning the excess fats efficiently. It improves the energy levels and allows you to exercise more vigorously, leading to burning of extra calories. Maqui berry also helps in lowering the amount of glucose in the blood, thus preventing the formation of new fatty cells.
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Maqui berry fights against cancer
Maqui berries are rich in anthocyanins called delphinidins, which have the ability to disrupt the cancer cells cycle and thus slow down the proliferation of these cells. This process helps in inducing suicide of cancer cells, also known as apoptosis. Laboratory tests conducted on colorectal cancer cells showed that these antioxidants were able to eliminate both primary and metastatic cells. Studies also indicate that delphinidin also has the strongest anti-proliferation effect on cancer cells when compared to any other type of anthocyanins. It was able to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells related to breast, colon, lung, stomach, and central nervous system.
Maqui berry has anti-inflammatory properties
The anthocyanins called “delphinidins” present in maqui berry powder are powerful anti-inflammatory agents and so they help in lowering the risk of arthritis and several degenerative diseases brought about by inflammation.
Antibacterial effects of maqui berry
Studies reveal that that maqui berry may have anti-bacterial qualities, which makes it effective in preventing many food borne diseases and other bacterial infections.
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Maqui berry can boost your immune system
Maqui berry is rich in vitamin C along with antioxidants that give your immune system a boost and help you protected from various kinds of diseases.
Maqui berry is good for eyesight
All kinds of berries are considered to be beneficial for the eyes and the maqui berry is also of no exception. The abundance of vitamin C, anthocyanins and quercetin help in improving vision and also in reducing the risk of cataracts.Dry eye symptom is result of insufficient tear or eye fluid due to oxidative stress on tear glands. In a research, maqui berry extract was found to be preventing light damage to eye cells and reducing dry eye symptom. Maqui berry prevents oxidative stress on eye cells and prevents age related eye disorders like retinitis pigmentosa and age related macular degeneration
Maqui berry offers cleansing and detoxification
Regular consumption of maqui berry can help in getting rid of the various toxins in our body. The powerful antioxidants found in this berry can eliminate these toxins and chemicals and prevent them from causing damage to your body.
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Maqui berry improves digestive health
Maqui berry promotes better digestion by improving the health of the digestive system. This berry is rich in plant sterols, fiber and monounsaturated fats, all of which enhance the functioning of the digestive system.
Maqui berry for better mental health
Maqui berry has been found to be quite effective in maintaining proper mental health. Regular intake of this fruit is helpful in improving the functioning of the brain and the nervous system. It helps in boosting the mental energy levels and allows you to focus and think clearer. The active components in maqui berry are also effective in reducing stress and depression.
Benefits to maqui berry to skin
With its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity, the berry is good for healing of wounds. Native Patagonian communities were said to be using the plant leaves to dress wounds. As a potential antioxidant agent, it helps in preventing aging of skin due to oxidative stress of ultra violet light and pollution. This makes it potential candidate for use in skin care cosmetics.
Where to Get Maqui Berries?
While during season, fresh maqui berry is found in South America, maqui berry pulp, maqui berry concentrate or juice, maqui berry powder is found in health food stores and some online stores. You may find few maqui berry products on our Amazon store. Owing to their various beneficial properties, maqui berry is becoming very popular in the world of natural supplements. It has been consumed by the indigenous people of the Chile for several years, who consider it as a symbol of health. It is definitely a great choice for the people who are conscious about their health, and want to stay fit and disease-free.
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Healthy Maqui recipes
Making Maqui berry juice or maqui berry smoothie is good way to enjoy fresh maqui berry. Its flavor and color makes it good ingredient for ice creams and fruit yogurt. You can try this recipe by Meaghan Tarrant which uses raw Buckwheat & Maqui Berry powder to make healthy morning porridge for breakfast. Try out multi fruit smoothie from maqui berry, straw berries, chia seeds and milk.
Maqui berry side effects
Native people in South America have been enjoying this delicious berry for ages. However rarely this berry has caused allergy to people. These days supplements and concentrates of macqui berry should be taken with caution and prescribed quantities.
Owing to their various beneficial properties, maqui berry is becoming very popular in the world of natural supplements. It has been consumed by the indigenous people of the Chile for several years, who consider it as a symbol of health. It is definitely a great choice for the people who are conscious about their health, and want to stay fit and disease-free.Image Credits: Loving Earth