Camu camu berries aren’t something you’ll see at the supermarket. This ultra-tart berry grows in the flooded areas of the Amazon rainforest, and it has likely been a staple food among civilizations living in these regions for thousands of years.
The big appeal? Camu Camu’s array of polyphenol antioxidants, plus extraordinarily high levels of vitamin C—a key nutrient for a properly functioning immune system. Camu camu has also been associated with health benefits like reduced inflammation and increased fat-burning potential. However, not quite as much is known about the history of camu camu berry consumption as, say, chia seeds or amaranth, both of which were dietary and religious staples of the Aztecs and Incans.
Even today, consumption of fresh camu camu berry is relatively limited to the region in which it grows. In parts of Peru, people eat camu camu with salt while it's still green, and others use the ripe fruit to make juice and jam. In other parts of the world, you’ll primarily find camu camu dried and ground into an antioxidant-rich powder to be added to smoothies and juices.
Here’s a look at some of the most exciting potential health benefits of camu camu berry (and their various nutritional compounds).
3 health benefits supported by camu camu.
While no studies have looked at camu camu berry’s effect on immune function specifically, the berries do contain large amounts of vitamin C, which plays a crucial role in immunity. For example, vitamin C has antioxidant properties that protect immune cells from oxidative damage so they can better do their job. Low levels of vitamin C have been shown to decrease resistance to infections. Boosting vitamin C intake may not be a magic bullet, but research suggests it may reduce risk of catching a cold by up to 50% in people who vigorously exercise on the regular.
Camu camu also has antimicrobial properties, which could help ward off various ailments. In a 2017 study, the peel and seeds of camu camu were shown to reduce growth of dangerous bacteria including E. coli and Streptococcus mutans.
Thanks (again) to camu camu berry’s antioxidant content, it may also help reduce inflammation and curb oxidative stress—processes that can drive joint pain, post-workout muscle soreness, premature aging, and a variety of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
In a 2008 study, people who drank camu camu juice (which contained about 1,000 mg of vitamin C) every day for a week had decreased levels of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, and decreased reactive oxygen species—which are measurements of inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. The same effect was not seen with vitamin C supplements alone, suggesting that camu camu’s combination of antioxidant compounds has a greater effect than a single nutrient.
It’s not clear if camu camu berry can help you lose weight, but two studies suggest it may aid in overall metabolism and blood sugar regulation, which could indirectly affect weight.
In a 2017 study, people were given a high carb meal including white bread along with either water (as a control) or camu camu berry juice. Those who drank camu camu juice experienced a significantly lower spike in post-meal blood sugar. Balanced blood sugar is key for maintaining stable energy levels and reducing cravings. And a 2018 study found that camu camu increased calorie burning and helped prevent the accumulation of visceral fat (the dangerous abdominal fat that surrounds organs).
Why camu camu berry is considered a superfood.
Camu camu berry delivers a powerhouse of antioxidant potential. For starters, just one teaspoon of camu camu berry powder contains 682 mg of vitamin C, which is a whopping 760% of your recommended daily intake (and about 15x what’s in an orange). It also contains beta-carotene, a variety of polyphenol antioxidants such as proanthocyanidins, ellagitannins, and ellagic acid.
Bottom line on camu camu.
Camu camu berry is a rich source of immune-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants; and while more research is needed, the emerging studies on its ability to reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and support a healthy metabolism are promising.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.