The Magic Benefits Of Maqui Berry, A Truly Generous Fruit
I grew up in Chile, a land of natural contrasts; great lakes, torrential rivers, immense forests and, on the other hand, the driest desert in the world (Atacama).
As a child, we used to go on summer vacations to the south of the country, to a lake called "Ranco", where my parents had (still have) a cabin. It was a magical place full of native forests and wild vegetation.
One of our entertainments there was eating Maqui; a little fruit, of the size of a pea, that grew like weed all around. It was very sweet and it left your mouth and hands dyed purple, which was very funny (still is). At that time Maqui was not known anywhere, not even in Chile. Only the local indigenous people knew their attributes and consumed it frequently.
Today, after much research, we know that it is one of the foods richest in antioxidants and other amazing benefits. I'm glad I had the opportunity to eat so much Maqui in my childhood. Without a doubt it has had a great impact in my good health as an adult. Also, it is one of my favorite memories of those times.
So...lets dig a little bit deeper in to this Magic Berry´s background;
What is Maqui?
The maqui (aristotelia chilensis) is a small wild plant, whose fruits have been used for hundreds of years by the Mapuches (Chilean native indigenous people) thanks to its medicinal and nutritional benefits.
Originally from the Chilean Patagonia, it is considered one of the fruits with greater antioxidant power in the world, could prevent cancer and slow down cell aging. It has a high content of vitamin C, therefore strengthens the immune system, it is also a regulator of blood glucose, so people with diabetes can benefit from the consumption of this superfood.
This fruit grows wildly only between the months of January and February, so the harvesting and processing must be carried out very efficiently to keep its properties intact and be able to use the most of the harvest.
What are its benefits?
Its high ORAC value would reside in its high polyphenolic concentration. Although its fruits contain some alkaloids of the indole and quinolinic type (Céspedes et al., 1993), studies by Escribano-Builon et al. (2006), realize that its composition is particularly rich in anthocyanins (where 34% would correspond to delphinidin-3-sambubioside-5-glucoside). A more detailed description of the phytochemical profile of the maqui was recently reported by Céspedes et al. (2010a). Regarding the bioactive potential of this fruit, in vitro studies carried out early by Miranda-Rottmann et al. (2002), show the capacity of maqui polyphenols (extracts) to protect against the oxidation of LDL (low density lipoprotein) and against oxidative damage to vascular endothelial cells, thus suggesting an anti-atherogenic potential of the polyphenols of this fruit. In the same direction, Céspedes et al. reported an anti-inflammatory effect (2010b) in rats in which edema with carrageenin was induced, and a cardioprotective effect in rats subjected to oxidative stress due to ischemia-reperfusion (2008).
Complementing such activities, recently, Schreckinger et al. (2010) presented in vitro evidence suggesting an anti-inflammatory and inhibitory activity of the adipogenesis of maqui polyphenols. On the other hand, maqui polyphenols could also promote an action of interest on digestive enzymes. Indeed, recent in vitro studies conducted by Rubilar et al. (2011) realize that crude extracts of maqui would be able to inhibit the activity of the enzymes alpha-glucosidase and alpha-amylase, responsible for the degradation of carbohydrates in glucose. Such activity could suppose a potential of some maqui polyphenols to "modulate" the postprandial glycemia. However, although most of the activities described above represent a clear application potential for maqui polyphenols, the real implications of each of these activities on human health have yet to be established.
In simpler words, the main benefits of this fruit are:
- Maqui is a powerful antioxidant, because it contains high concentrations of polyphenols, anthocyanins and vitamin C, which helps prevent cancer and slow the premature aging of cells.
- Due to these same antioxidant properties that help protect neurons, the maqui can prevent and treat neurodegenerative problems such as Alzheimer's.
- It is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and natural analgesic.
- It has thermogenic properties, that is, it increases body temperature, allowing to burn fat.
- Because it helps regulate the metabolism of blood sugar, it is highly recommended for diabetics.
- This fruit is a purifier of the intestine, since it contains a lot of fiber.
- Cleans the kidneys and urinary tract.
- Burns can be treated with maqui leaves.
- An infusion of leaves is used for tumors, wounds, inflamed throat, fever, diarrhea, or as an analgesic.
How can it be consumed?
Undoubtedly, the best way to consume Maqui is in its natural state, but since this is unlikely possible, it is ideal to consume it in powder obtained under a lyophilization process, which allows to keep its active ingredients almost intact.
Its flavor is sweet, so it combines very well with all kinds of smoothies.
Here i leave you the one i think is the best; Navitas Maqui Powder. It comes in a 6 pack so you can take it on a daily basis and use it for a period of time so you can feel the benefits.
If you don´t know where to start, you can check out this delicious Smoothie:
- 150 cc almond milk
- 1/2 banana
- 1 tsp. Coconut
- 1 tsp. Cocoa without sugar
- 2 tbsp Of oats
- 1/2 tsp From Maqui
- 100 cc. Of water
- Sweetener (optional)
Everything to the blender for a few minutes and ready, if you want to sweeten it you can add the one you like, personally I did not use any since the oatmeal I used came sweetened with honey.
The Maqui Powder
Also, if you are interested in knowing a little bit more of the native origins of Maqui, you can check this short documentary on youtube (need to use subtitles).