During my recent trip to a health shop I have noticed a big poster on the wall: “Camu Camu – an antioxidant bomb!”
I must say–at first I was a bit reluctant:” Yeah…probably another super plant which is hitting the market.” I wasn’t going to pay much attention to it. But the thought of a dietary/nutrition novelty (that I haven’t heard of 😉 ) was nudging me. I decided to do a bit of a research in medical literature.
After a few hours of reading various papers I was taken in by the idea that Camu Camu is the best supplement in the world. I could easily state that this plant has great health properties.
Let me tell you more about it.
Camu Camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a small bushy tree (3-5 meters high) that grows in the Amazon forest in Peru and Brazil . Fruits look similar to cherries but are a lot bitter in taste.
Traditionally Camu Camu has been used for many years for ailments including: cold sores, herpes, shingles, colds, eye health and gum disease.
What makes this plant so special?
1. It is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin C
The vitamin C content has been shown to range from 1882 milligrams to about 2280 milligrams per 100 g of fresh fruits.
What you can buy is usually a powdered form of Camu Camu – which is even higher in vitamin C than fruits. I like to call it a “more concentrated version” as water has been evaporated increasing levels of this vitamin.
Vitamin C is one of the antioxidants that fight free radicals.
Free radicals are damaging molecules that can be produced by cells during their normal function. This is probably the only amount that our body could cope with. Unfortunately these compounds are also created in response to external pollutants, food additives, chemicals, stress and even excessive exercise.
Vitamin C helps to normalize cell functions, boosts immune system, speeds ups wound healing, takes part in collagen production and maintains health of bones and teeth.
2. Contains high amounts of manganese, potassium and carotenoids and good quantity of calcium and magnesium.
All these essential nutrients play an important role in monitoring blood pressure, keeping your bones strong and resistant, improving cardiovascular health and protecting against chronic diseases.
I was surprised to find out that the carotenoid content is also high (355 mg per 100 g of fruit) – especially lutin and zeaxanthin. Together with vitamin A, they have an important role in preventing nyctalopia – night blindness and macular degeneration.
3. It has good levels of amino acids such as leucine, valine and serine.
Amino acids are the building blocks of all body cells, immunoglobulins and help with enzymatic reactions.
Serine is necessary for production of tryptophan, which then is converted to serotonin – a mood enhancing neurotransmitter.
Both leucine and valine belong to branched-chain amino acids, which are essential for liver health, brain and muscle growth.
Who especially would benefit from Camu Camu?
1. Athletes – due to amino-acid content (to build muscles) and vitamin C (to fight free radicals and build collagen)
2. People who suffer from cold sores, E. Coli and other bacterial or viral infections – thanks to vitamin C
3. Students and people with dementia – Camu Camu helps with memory and concentration (vitamin C and amino-acids)
4. People with inflammatory conditions (e.g. arthritis, autoimmune conditions) – due to high level of antioxidants
5. People with eye problems – being high in carotenoids and vitamin C
Look at my favorite Camu Camu powders:
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Photo: Wikipedia Commons; respective brands