Scientifically named as Aristotelia chilensis, maqui originated from the rainforests of Chile, including certain provinces of southern Argentina. Mapuche Indians were known to munch on this fruit hundreds of years ago, attracted to its sweet flavor, whereas its color and size resembles blackcurrants. Through this practice, Mapuche warriors during the olden times owed their strong stamina and energy to maqui berries.
Today, its fruit recently made it to the “superfood” list claiming many health benefits. Also known as the Chilean wineberries, maqui berries are dried and grinded to collect its powder form. But what benefits does maqui offer? Here are some:
Normally, wild berries are found to possess exceptionally strong antioxidant properties; the wild blueberry (bilberry) or the black elderberry are some of the highest for antioxidants in the western world. Then along came Acai berries with an average ORAC value of 16,700 per 100 gram which generated quite a buzz but it does not fare well vs Maqui berries boasting a whopping average of 27,600 per 100 grams.
Rich in Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins, known to guard the body from undesirable toxic effects of free radicals and unstable atoms, are the most dominating component of maqui berries. Published in Phytochemical Analysis 2006 journal, around 138 milligrams of anthocyanins are found in fresh maqui berries and 212 milligrams in dried berries per 100 grams. On the other hand, free radicals, when not controlled, could be responsible for various health concerns and damage the body’s DNA.
Another antioxidant found in maqui berries is vitamin C, which prevents wrinkles and dryness through regular consumption. Based on American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published in October 2007, consistent intake of vitamin C inhibits skin deficiencies including untimely aging and other unwanted skin conditions since vitamin C is necessary to support the skin’s collagen matrix.
Aids Cardiovascular Problems
Food Chemistry’s March 2008 journal proved the relationship of antioxidants and cardiac improvement. Test animals were used to specially examine the cardioprotective effects of maqui extract, which increased the protection of the heart from further damage. The protection was a result of high antioxidants present in maqui as the association of antioxidants in improving heart conditions was already studied widely by various researchers done in both animals and humans.
Rutgers University together with North Carolina State University conducted a study on insulin and maqui berries in 2011 wherein diabetic mice were given maqui extracts in a period of seven weeks. These obese mice were on a high-fat diet as well. After the allotted time frame, the mice were found to improve their fasting blood sugar levels. Anthocyanin also showed effects similar to that of insulin in muscles and liver cells, which helps in preventing human diabetes.
Phytotherapy Research journal published in November-December 1993 showed the importance of maqui extract in vitro against the herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV-2. This virus is a typical sexually transmitted disease affecting around 16% of Americans between 14 to 49 years of age. Maqui extract was said to be effective against genital herpes, but not on HSV-1 which causes cold sores. However, at the present time, further research is recommended to back up the results of this study.
Now that you’ve learned the various health benefits of maqui berries, the next question that comes into the mind is, “Where could I buy maqui berries?”
Fresh or frozen wild maqui berries are a little difficult to find in US or UK local markets and groceries. But worry no more as these little ones are conquering more health food stores worldwide while some shops are even selling these online. Aside from the maqui berries, different forms are sold worldwide ranging from maqui juice to powder form. A small amount of maqui powder added to your usual juice or smoothie regimen could shift your lifestyle into a new gear with its strong antioxidant contents.
Be sure to look for ‘freeze dried‘ and ‘organic’ on the packaging.