Camu camu, or Myrciaria dubia, is a sour berry, similar to cherry in color.
It’s native to the Amazon rainforest but has gained popularity worldwide due to its many purported health benefits.
Fresh camu camu berries are tart in flavor, which is why they’re commonly found in supplement form as powders, pills, or as a juice.
Camu camu is considered a superfood — mainly due to a high content of certain nutrients and powerful plant compounds, including vitamin C.
Here are 7 evidence-based health benefits of camu camu.
1. High in vitamin C
Camu camu is rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin C plays many important roles in your body. For example, it helps strengthen your immune system and is needed for the formation of collagen, a protein that supports your skin, bones, and muscles.
What’s more, vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals. Though free radicals are a normal byproduct of cellular function, too many can be formed as a result of stress, poor diet, and exposure to pollution.
When free radicals outnumber antioxidants in your body, it leads to a condition called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Eating foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin C can help prevent oxidative stress and combat free radical damage.
Camu camu is estimated to contain up to 3 grams of vitamin C per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fruit.
However, due to its strong sour taste, it’s rarely eaten fresh and typically sold in powder form. Since the powder has had all water removed, it contains more vitamin C per gram compared to the fresh berries.
According to product nutrition labels, camu camu powder can deliver up to 750% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C per teaspoon (5 grams).
Keep in mind that the level of vitamin C in camu camu products can vary depending on, for example, where the fruit was grown.
Camu camu is rich in vitamin C, a vitamin that acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body and is vital for the health of your skin and immune system.
2. Contains powerful antioxidants
Camu camu has impressive antioxidant capacities, as it’s loaded with vitamin C along with many other potent compounds like flavonoid antioxidants, including anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Excess free radicals in your body can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer over time.
The high antioxidant content of camu camu may particularly benefit those who smoke cigarettes, as smoking creates excessive amounts of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress.
In a 1-week study in 20 male smokers, those who drank 0.3 cups (70 ml) of camu camu juice containing 1,050 mg of vitamin C daily had significantly lowered oxidative stress and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP).
What’s more, there were no changes in these markers in the placebo group who received a vitamin C tablet. This indicates that the combination of other antioxidants from the camu camu berries had more powerful antioxidant effects than vitamin C alone.
Camu camu contains a combination of antioxidants that combat reactive molecules called free radicals, which may particularly benefit the health of those who smoke.
3. May fight inflammation
Camu camu may be effective in reducing inflammation in your body.
Chronic inflammation negatively impacts the health of your cells and has been linked to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.
Camu camu fruit pulp contains ellagic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit the inflammation-triggering enzyme aldose reductase.
A study in men who smoked found that drinking 0.3 cups (70 ml) of camu camu juice containing 1,050 mg of vitamin C for a week significantly decreased the inflammatory markers interleukin (IL-6) and high sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP).
The same effects were not seen in a control group that took a tablet with the same amount of vitamin C. This suggests that there may be a combination of beneficial components in camu camu that help your body fight inflammation.
The seeds of the camu camu fruit contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds as well, and a mouse study found that extract from the seeds suppressed inflammation.
Though these results are promising, more research is needed to better understand the potential anti-inflammatory benefits of camu camu.
Camu camu has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers, but further research is needed to clarify these findings.
Scientific research on the potential health benefits of camu camu is limited.
Still, some studies suggest that camu camu may deliver the following benefits:
- Reduced weight. Animal studies indicate that the berry may reduce body weight by increasing the number of burnt calories and positively altering gut bacteria.
- Improved blood sugar levels. Research in 23 healthy people showed that camu camu may minimize the spike in blood sugar after eating a high-carb meal.
- Antimicrobial properties. In a test-tube study, the peel and seeds of camu camu reduced bacterial growth of the potentially harmful bacteria Escherichia coli and Streptococcus mutans.
- Healthier blood pressure. Test-tube and human studies have observed that the berry may help reduce blood pressure by promoting the dilation of blood vessels.
It’s important to note that studies in these areas are limited, and much of the available research on camu camu is from test-tube and animal studies.
Therefore, more high-quality studies are needed to confirm the potential health benefits of camu camu.
Camu camu may have antibacterial properties and could help reduce blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar levels. However, more research is needed to support these findings.
How to use camu camu
Camu camu is very sour, making it unpleasant for most people to eat on its own.
Instead, you can find camu camu in the form of pulp, puree, and juice — often sweetened to improve taste.
Still, the berry is most popular in powder form. This makes sense, as the water is removed, making the concentration of camu camu higher and prolonging shelf-life.
Camu camu powder can be easily added to smoothies, oats, muesli, yogurts, and salad dressings. Combining it with other flavors masks the sour taste and makes it more palatable.
A good tip is to always add camu camu to food after cooking to prevent the loss of nutrients from the heat, especially vitamin C.
Aside from these forms, camu camu is available as extracts and concentrated supplements.
You may find these products locally or online.
Camu camu is very sour, so the most common way of adding it to your diet is through a powder or a supplement.
Potential side effects of camu camu
The potential side effects of camu camu are related to its high vitamin C content.
Just 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of camu camu could provide 682 mg of vitamin C, which is 760% of the RDI for this nutrient.
The Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL) for vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day. Amounts lower than this are considered safe for most people
Consuming excessive amounts of vitamin C may cause digestive upset, such as diarrhea and nausea. These symptoms typically resolve once the vitamin C intake is reduced.
Vitamin C promotes iron absorption, so people with conditions of iron overload — like hemochromatosis — may need to refrain from taking camu camu.
However, camu camu is safe for most people, and vitamin C overload is rare since it’s a water-soluble nutrient and hence not stored in your body.
As long as you keep to the recommended serving size, you’re unlikely to take too much vitamin C. That said, it’s good practice to check the label, as different brands may contain varying amounts of vitamin C.
Furthermore, if you’re taking medications, it’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before taking a camu camu powder or supplement.
Camu camu is an excellent source of vitamin C. Still, if taken in excess, it may lead to digestive upset or iron overload in susceptible people.
The bottom line
Both the camu camu fruit and seeds are rich in nutrients and powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C and flavonoids.
Some research indicates that camu camu may be effective in fighting inflammation and reducing blood sugar and blood pressure.
Although fresh camu camu fruit has a sour taste, it can be easily added to your diet in the form of a powder or a concentrated supplement.
Title: 7 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Camu Camu