One superfood supplement you should have in your pantry is Camu Camu powder. Its super-high vitamin C content and antioxidants may help prevent inflammation and disease.
Sorry, açai berry … your decade-long reign as the trendiest superfood is over. True, your frozen, purple sludge is still popular in the form of bowls and smoothies.
There’s a new Amazonian jungle berry that might be even better for your health. It’s called camu camu.
But you wouldn’t want to go traipsing through the jungle picking camu-camu berries. This is for a couple reasons….
Number one is all the creepy crawlies in the Amazon that can kill you in seconds.
Moreover, the berries are rather acidic and sour tasting. Think of tart cherries but, um, tartier….
Thankfully, though, there’s convenient and better-tasting camu camu powder.
Don’t know how to pronounce it? The name rhymes with ‘Na-nu Na-nu.’
Out of this world health benefits
You might be too young to remember the TV show ‘Mork & Mindy,’ which ran from the late ’70s to the early ’80s. The show starred the late, great comedian Robin Williams.
Williams’ character, Mork, is an alien visitor from planet Ork. Mork greets everyone with the friendly, “na-nu na-nu.”
Anyways, golden era of television trivia aside, camu camu powder possesses health benefits that are, like Mork, out of this world.
The biggest selling point of this low-growing shrub native to swampy areas, is its vitamin C content.
In fact, it contains 60 times more C than an average orange fruit.
Exotic fruits from tropical areas such as açai berry tend to be very high in C. Of course, vitamin C is an antioxidant.
However, similar to almost every natural substance, the clinical trials on people taking camu camu is very limited.
The studies that have been conducted on it, though, prove it has great potential in disease prevention and health promotion.
One particular type of antioxidants in camu camu—anthocyanins—can lower blood pressure, protect the heart and improve the function of blood vessels.
Can you buy the berries?
If you do a shopping search online for the berries, it’s going to take lots of digging (not literally) to find the berries.
And if you’re trying to shop for the berries in order to save money on camu camu powder, you won’t want to anyway.
You see, the fruit is really not for consumption in its natural state. In fact, the only people who eat the berries whole are the native peoples who live in close proximity to the small, bushy riverside trees (Myrciaria dubia; no relation to George ‘Dubya’ Bush).
Furthermore, because of its very high acidity the powder is the most common way to get the health benefits.
Therefore, camu camu powder is a supplement. But if you buy a high-quality one online (like this one), it’s an all-natural whole food one.
Why is it so good for you?
The compounds in the berries show that it drastically reduces inflammation. Consequently, it can neutralize or even reverse oxidative stress.
Your immune system is in a constant battle between good and evil. The evil is “reactive oxygen species” or ROS.
And when your white blood cells and other immune system fighters are overwhelmed by ROS, oxidative stress occurs.
But this tropical fruit seems to be a potent ROS fighter. The unique vitamin C content and antioxidant profile of the berries make it so.
Moreover, the fruits are chock-full of minerals. There’s sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and copper.
In addition, there’s even some essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid and oleic acid.
The bioactive compounds read like an all-star roster of antioxidants. These include many polyphenols (flavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins, stilbenes, and lignans).
It’s actually the seeds and peel of the fruit that provide much of the antioxidant capacity.
However, just like any other supplement, the benefits depend on several factors. This includes the extraction method and maturity of the plant. So make sure you buy a high-quality supplement.
Suffer from seasonal allergies?
Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant. One kind of flavonoid is quercetin. Like moringa powder, this supplement is an abundant source of quercetin.
In research studies, quercetin inactivates mast cells that release histamine.
If you’ve ever suffered bad seasonal allergies like watery, itchy eyes and sneezing, blame it on your mast cells freaking out.
Mast cells release histamines when you are exposed to pollen and other allergies.
But querectin is a natural antihistamine. Histamines are good in some sense; they are part of our natural immune response.
However, it’s annoying when your histamine response is in overdrive.
Thus, camu camu powder may help treat symptoms of hay fever. But don’t wait for symptoms to start before you take it.
Instead, take it for several weeks before allergy season starts.
In addition, quercetin can help with inflammation of the prostate gland in men. It also protects against the potential negative effects of excess LDL cholesterol.
It may even help lower high blood pressure, according to the big, bushy-bearded natural health expert, Dr. Weil.
Can it help you lose weight?
That depends. Many tropical berries have the potential to have a weight-loss effect.
However, if you eat lots of high-starch foods, it probably won’t matter.
That being said, though, if you cook low carb meals, it might be able to boost metabolism. That’s because another of the compounds in the berry is kaempferol.
In research studies, this compound shows promise as an anti-obesity agent (at least in rats). It also possesses anti-cancer activity.
What is it used for?
Inflammation can contribute to the aging process. Chronic inflammation increases the chance for disease.
In addition, inflammation can cause chronic pain. The fruit seems to be a “well-researched and innovative natural product[.] It [has] the potential to contribute possibly substantially, to [inflammation] management….”
To manage pain, many people use NSAIDs. That acronym stands for “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.”
Popping an occasional Aleve or Advil might be effective for pain. But chronic use of NSAIDs may produce adverse effects.
The biggest problem with NSAIDs is their negative side effects. Especially in the digestive system and liver.
Thus, if camu camu powder can powerfully curb inflammation as effectively as NSAIDs without the side effects that would be fantastic.
However, there have been no large studies with people using the powder to confirm this is the case.
In light of this, if you read any testimonials of someone getting great pain-management results from taking it, take the review with a grain of salt.
To put it another way , the possible pain-relief and anti-inflammation benefits are mostly word of mouth.
However, the animal studies on the fruit show promise.
The study above with the obese rats offers other possible health benefits.
After 12 weeks, the rats fed camu camu not only lost weight. More importantly, the white fatty deposits in their fat cells shrank.
In addition, the rats’ blood sugar went down. So did total cholesterol. And fat in the blood.
Levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol went down. And so did insulin.
Another positive outcome of the study: HDL (“good”) cholesterol level improved.
A couple studies (including this one) show that the juice from the berries fed to rats protects the liver. And this study suggests it may enhance sperm production and sperm count (but in rats, not humans).
Better than oranges?
This study examines 20 chronic male cigarette smokers (humans, not rats, if that needs to be clarified).
The test subjects were randomly assigned to take daily 1050 mg of vitamin C tablets or 70 mL of 100% camu camu juice containing 1050 mg of vitamin C.
The test lasted for 7 days. To make sure the results are consistent, cigarette consumption, tar and nicotine intake, and blood pressure, are similar in the two groups.
In the study group, at 7 days, oxidative stress markers and the total amount of ROS levels significantly decreased. (Remember ROS? If not, it stands for reactive oxygen species.)
Also, the levels of inflammatory markers dropped substantially.
Shockingly, no corresponding changes were observed in the vitamin C group.
The authors conclude that this fruit has more powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. In fact, much more so than daily intake of 1500 mg of vitamin C.
Again, here’s the surprising thing about the study….
The amount of vitamin C in the fruit is the same as the vitamin C tablets.
But the smokers taking the tablets don’t get the same health benefits.
Maybe it’s because one is a whole-food supplement while the other is a synthetic one?
Moreover, maybe it’s because of all the different compounds in the berry.
Another possibility, say the researchers, is it increases vitamin C absorption. The reason why might be the potassium content.
Even fish may benefit from taking it. A study shows that in fish it significantly increases immune-boosting white blood cells.
What does camu camu taste like?
Again, don’t go on a wild Amazonian expedition hunting for the berries. You’ll get eaten by a 16-foot anaconda.
The berries taste like tart cherries. Only more acidic.
Are you going to buy a powder? Then you might want to sprinkle in some cinnamon.
Or use some other natural sugar alternative.
Supposedly, the powder dissolves better in warm water. Some people use a little orange juice to improve the taste.
Camu camu powder dosage
The dosage of this organic supplement available on Amazon is 1 teaspoon. This amount provides 10 times more vitamin C than an orange.
You can add it to your morning green drink. Or a smoothie.
It can also blend well in yogurt. Add it to just about anything.
Have you tried it? What’s your opinion? Notice any health benefits? Leave a comment….