Health Benefits of Camu Camu

Here's what a nutritionist has to say about this trendy berry.

Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a berry native to the Amazon rainforest. While its origins are remote, this so-called superfood has long been used to improve health and has become increasingly popular in the US. Several brands produce and sell camu camu in stores and online.

Similar to tart cranberries, the camu camu berry is too acidic for most people to enjoy its natural state. It's generally processed as an ingredient in blended juices or freeze-dried into a powder that can be taken as a supplement, added to smoothies, or blended into other foods.

Camu camu's may have numerous potential health benefits. Here are a few health benefits of camu camu, along with tasty ways to incorporate it into your diet.

Vitamin C and Antioxidant Content

Nutritionally, camu camu is one of the most concentrated natural food sources of vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant. The fruit's pulp provides about 2,400 to 3,000 grams (or 2,400,000 milligrams) per 3.5-ounce or so serving, per a study conducted in the journal Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición in 2000. For comparison, per the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of orange juice contains 83.7 milligrams per cup.

Regarding serving sizes, per the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Harvard Health, while the recommended daily amounts of vitamin C vary depending on health status, generally, adult females should aim for 75 milligrams daily, and adult men should aim for 90 milligrams daily. The upper limit, or the maximum amount of vitamin C you should take unless under the supervision of a healthcare provider, is 2000 milligrams daily. Amounts beyond this may cause stomach upset.

While the processing of camu camu destroys some of its natural vitamin C, even in a processed state, camu camu is an excellent source of vitamin C. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015 explained how you store camu camu affects vitamin C content too.

The study described how the concentration of vitamin C decreased over time and depended on the temperature at which it was stored. However, during the study period, despite a loss of 26% of the vitamin C content over 335 days at -18 degrees Celcius (about 0 degrees Fahrenheit), the concentration of vitamin C still remained at 1.16 grams (1,160 milligrams) per 100 grams of pulp (about 3.5 ounces).

Beyond the antioxidant vitamin C, the study described the high content of other antioxidants in camu camu. Camu camu demonstrated higher antioxidant content and antioxidant activity against free radicals (harmful substances in the body that can damage cells) than other studied fruits.

Other Vitamin, Mineral, and Amino Acid Content

A study published in Food and Nutrition Sciences in 2015 described numerous other health benefits of camu camu, including its mineral content. The study analyzed the nutrient profile of freeze-dried camu camu. Potassium was found to be the mineral in the highest concentration, and the pulp was also found to be a good source of calcium.

Per the nutrient profile in the study, camu camu also contained magnesium and smaller amounts of manganese, iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin B12.

While some amino acids were found, and camu camu provides some essential amino acids, it is not a complete protein nor a substantial source of protein.

Camu Camu May Provide Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Camu camu may be anti-inflammatory. The systemic review published in 2015 in The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine described two studies reviewed as a part of the author's review. While conducted on animals, these studies were considered high-quality and demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory properties.

A study published in the journal Medicines in 2018 described two studies conducted in humans where camu camu was found to decrease inflammation, possibly through its polyphenol (antioxidant) content. However, more research is needed to better understand how camu camu may reduce or prevent inflammation in the body.

Impact on Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Though research is in preliminary stages, one study published in 2019 in the journal Gut found that when camu camu was given to mice on high-fat, high-sugar diets, the mice experienced beneficial changes in their gut microbiome and a decrease in obesity. After the introduction of camu camu, diet-induced weight gain stopped from day 14 and onward.

Additionally, the camu camu was found to improve the metabolic syndrome in the mice. MedlinePlus explained metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that affect an individual's risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. These risk factors include abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in the blood), low HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol), high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar levels.

Of course, more research is needed in human studies to determine if these health benefits carry over.

How To Use Camu Camu In Meals

While many of the purported health benefits of camu camu require additional research—especially in humans—the fruit does contain many vitamins and minerals and has a high antioxidant content. If you want to incorporate this fruit into your diet, some of the most popular ways are to purchase Camu Damu powder and add a pinch to smoothies or blend it into yogurt, oatmeal, or baked goods. Or you can try about 1/4 teaspoon into your favorite herbal tea.

Be Aware Of A Few Risks

Speaking of camu camu supplements, a word of caution: Most carry a warning for individuals who are pregnant or nursing, stating that they should consult their healthcare provider before taking it.

And regardless of your health status, discussing any supplement or medicinal therapy you plan to take with a healthcare professional is always a good idea. This is especially important if you are already taking other medications or supplements, or undergoing medical treatments.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles