Camu camu is a shrub that grows along the water in the Amazon rain forests of South America, particularly Peru. Historically, the fruit and leaves have been used to treat all sorts of ailments from cold sores to shingles to the common cold. It’s also been used to enhance eye health as well as to help with low energy and gum and teeth problems.
And of course, people eat the tart fruit as food.
In the U.S., camu camu is sold in the form of a powder, since the fragile fruit doesn’t ship well, and used as a nutritional supplement.
The Amazon rainforests offer a wide variety of delicious foods that have become staples in diets around the world. Some of the most popular items include chocolate, coffee, bananas, and cashews. A variety of less well-known fruits available in this area are starting to gain attention, thanks to their extraordinary health benefits. One of the most interesting is antioxidant superstar camu camu, which has numerous benefits.
A PEEK INSIDE: THE NUTRITION YOU’LL FIND IN CAMU CAMU
Camu camu can be found in wet, swampy environments, and the trees are typically between 10 and 16 feet tall. The berries of the camu camu tree resemble cherries, and trees can produce up to 26 pounds of fruit per year.
Some key nutrients of camu camu include the following:
Vitamin C Potassium Magnesium Manganese Copper Amino acids (serine, leucine, and valine) Carotenoids (lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin) Camu camu’s vitamin C content is exceptionally high, making this the most notable thing about the fruit. Depending on ripeness, berries may contain up to 60 times the amount of vitamin C in an orange.
KEY HEALTH BENEFITS OF CAMU CAMU
With all of these nutrients combined in one small berry, camu camu complements healthy diets to prevent and treat a number of common health problems.
Excellent source of antioxidants — Thanks to the massive amount of vitamin C in camu camu, the berry is high in antioxidants. These work with your body to protect against damage from molecules called free radicals, which contribute to many diseases. Examples of diseases related to free radicals include cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Enhances physical performance — The combination of nutrients in camu camu is helpful in boosting energy. In addition, the amino acids leucine and valine support healthy muscles, enhancing overall physical performance. Guards against cancer — A variety of common environmental toxins have been identified as cancer-causing agents. Fortunately, healthy eating can mitigate some of the damage. Study after study has come to the same conclusion: Antioxidants are helpful in preventing and treating many forms of cancer. Supports healthy blood pressure — The combination of vitamin C and critical minerals in camu camu has been shown to effectively relax blood vessels, supporting healthy blood pressure. Effective treatment of gout — The pain caused by gout can make everyday activities difficult. Physicians often recommend anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, indomethacin, and naproxen. Camu camu offers a natural alternative, as it contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can be effective in treating gout. Improves cardiovascular health — The potassium in camu camu is important to heart health, and the combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protects against atherosclerosis, also known as “hardening of the arteries.” Aids in weight loss — Studies show that vitamin C lowers cortisol levels, which are directly related to how the body stores fat. Lower cortisol levels mean reduced fat storage, leading to weight loss. Supports the reduction of the risk of diabetes — Manganese has been shown to directly impact diabetes, reducing the risk for those who have not yet developed the disease and reducing complications for those who already have diabetes. Increases liver health — Vitamin C is a natural detoxifier, which is important for long-term liver health. The high vitamin C content of camu camu makes this an excellent solution for improving liver function.
INCORPORATING CAMU CAMU INTO MEAL PLANNING
Camu camu berries are exceptionally sour — a side effect of their high vitamin C content. Because of this, it is unusual to eat the fruit whole. Instead, camu camu is available in powder or pill form. Those who choose Camu camu powder over the pills typically mix it into sweeter items. For example, it can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on oatmeal or combined with frozen desserts.