Camu camu: An incredible source of vitamin C and flavonoids

“Camu camu”, also called camocamo and cacari, is a small tree that grows alongside rivers in the central and western Amazon basin in South America. It bears purple, cherry-sized berries which, due to their extreme acidity, are typically sweetened into jams, jellies, and juices rather than eaten raw. The berries have been utilized for medicinal purposes by Amazonian Indians for centuries, and were often made into hair tonics.        Camu-Camu

Although they are not well-known fruits in the West, “camu camu” berries rival some of the best fruits and vegetables in the nutrition department. Below are some of the health benefits they provide.

High concentration of vitamin C – Studies show that “camu camu” berries contain between a 2-3 percent concentration of vitamin C (approximately 3000 milligrams per 100 grams of pulp), which is the highest known of any fruit excluding the Australian kakadu plum.

Anti-inflammatory properties – According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Cardiology, “camu camu” berry extracts were shown to reduce the levels of oxidative stress markers like urinary 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine, thereby improving the inflammation and oxidative stress levels of the participants.  Chronic inflammation can lead to a number of serious diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer, it is important that we incorporate more antioxidant-rich fruits like “camu camu”.

Diabetes prevention – According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, camu camu berries contain high amounts of pelagic acid, a flavonoid that is proven to contain anti-diabetic effects.  Coupled with the fruit’s low glycemic index score (meaning it has little effect on blood sugar levels), makes “camu camu” a safe and even desirable fruit for diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals.

Weight loss properties – Like most fruits, “camu camu” berries are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and contain almost no fat. Consequently, you won’t ever need to worry about weight gain when eating camu camu” products, and they can be incorporated into a healthy eating plan.

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