Camu Camu Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

camu camu

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Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a small, sour berry from South America. The berry is too tart to eat on its own, but in powder form, it's abundant in vitamin C and antioxidant compounds. If you've never heard of camu camu, you might be wary about trying it. Although caution should be always be taken with dietary supplements, camu camu offers several promising health benefits worth considering.

Camu Camu Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 teaspoon (3g) of raw camu camu powder.

  • Calories: 10
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

The USDA does not provide any nutrition information for the whole fruit, but in powder form, a serving of camu camu is likely 1–2 teaspoons. In 1 teaspoon of camu camu powder, you'll get 3 grams of carbohydrates, of which, 1 gram comes from natural fiber.

Fats

Camu camu powder is naturally fat-free. This is true for both a small 3-gram serving and a larger serving of 100 grams.

Protein

Camu camu powder does not provide any protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

The most impressive nutrient in camu camu is its vitamin C content. A teaspoon provides 144 milligrams, which is 240% of the daily value. Camu camu also provides some potassium and the B-vitamin, niacin.

Health Benefits

Although no long-term human studies are available, the compounds found in camu camu are suspected to offer benefits in the prevention of certain diseases.

May Support Cancer Prevention

Camu camu contains powerful antioxidants. In addition to vitamin C, camu camu has polyphenols such as ellagic acid, ellagitannins, and proanthocyanidins. These bioactive compounds help fight off free radicals that lead to cancer-causing damage to DNA.

Supports Heart Health

Beyond their antioxidant effects, the polyphenols in camu camu are also anti-inflammatory. In a vast majority of heart disease cases, inflammation is a major risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.

Camu camu also provides fiber, offering 1 gram for every teaspoon in powder form. Fiber's ability to help lower cholesterol makes it an essential nutrient for heart health. Just like other fruits and vegetables, camu camu fits perfectly into a heart-healthy eating plan.

May Aid Weight Loss

Although more human studies are needed, preliminary studies on rats show promise for camu camu in the treatment of obesity. Rats fed camu camu eliminated significantly more fat via the liver and feces than those in the control group. As a result, body fat and more specifically, visceral fat, were reduced. This study suggests that camu camu be further investigated as a dietary aid for weight loss.

Reduces Sun Damage

UV light exposure leads to the breakdown of collagen, causing wrinkles, sunburns, and skin cancer. Along with high levels of vitamin C (a precursor to collagen formation), camu camu contains the phenolic compound, quercetin. Quercetin acts as an antioxidant.

Studies show that quercetin directly targets skin tissues, combating the effects of sun damage. While there's no substitute for proper sun protection (like wearing sunscreen and limiting your exposure during peak times), camu camu may boost your body's natural resilience against the sun.

May Help Improve Cognitive Function

The antioxidant effects of quercetin have also shown promise in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Preliminary studies demonstrate positive effects from oral dosages of quercetin on cognitive function and memory. Several fruits and vegetables provide quercetin and other antioxidants, so camu camu is just one way to reap this benefit.

Allergies

There are no known allergies to camu camu. As with any food, however, allergies are always possible. Typical signs of a food allergy include hives, dizziness, chest tightness, or swelling of the throat or tongue. If you notice a reaction that occurs immediately following or up to 1 hour after ingesting camu camu, speak to allergist to determine if you are allergic.

Adverse Effects

Adverse effects to camu camu are not well documented. However, one case study describes a 45-year-old man who experienced acute hepatitis as a result of camu camu. Because the man was otherwise healthy and did not consume medications or alcohol, camu camu was suspected to be the culprit. He was using 1 spoonful per day.

Because dietary supplements are not regulated, it can be difficult to evaluate how safe or effective they are. Always use caution and inform your doctor of any supplement you use.

Varieties

Camu camu comes from the highly diverse ecosystem of the Amazon. However, wild and domesticated varieties show no major genetic differences, suggesting that there is one general variety of the plant. Camu camu fruit may show varying characteristics based on the environment where it is grown.

When It's Best

Camu camu is sold in powder or pill form, so it is available year-round at health food stores and online. The fresh berry is too bitter to eat as is and therefore was not considered an edible food by indigenous people in the past. Most camu camu products are also organic.

Storage and Food Safety

Store camu camu powder in a dry, airtight container and use by the expiration date listed on the specific product you purchase.

How to Prepare

Camu camu is sour and tart. As a powder, it's commonly mixed into juices or smoothies. As a pill or capsule, camu camu supplements can be taken with water, with or without food.

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Article Sources
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