The Benefits of Maqui Berry

purple smoothie
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Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) is a type of vibrant purple berry native to Chile. Long consumed locally as a fresh fruit or in juice form, maqui berry is now found as a freeze-dried powder made from the whole fruit. It's also available in a number of dietary supplements (including capsules and liquid extracts).

Proponents claim that maqui berry offers numerous health benefits, partly due to substances in the berries (such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and ellagic acid) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

The antioxidant content of maqui berry, measured by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value, is 19850 for 100 mg of the fresh fruit. In comparison, fresh blueberries are slightly higher at 21080 for 100 mg.

Uses for Maqui Berry

There are several ways you can use maqui berry, including mixing the juice into beverages or adding the berry powder to smoothies, desserts, or cereal.

Maqui is touted as a remedy for several health conditions, including arthritis and high cholesterol. In addition, maqui is purported to protect against a number of inflammation-related diseases (including diabetes and heart disease).

Some proponents also suggest that maqui can help support weight loss efforts, slow the aging process, help with dry eyes, improve skin health, and stimulate the immune system.

The Benefits of Maqui Berry

Research suggests that consumption of maqui berry's anthocyanin antioxidants, called delphinidins, may boost your defense against certain conditions. Here's a look at key study findings from the available research:

Diabetes

In a small study published in BioMed Research International, researchers gave participants who had been diagnosed with prediabetes a single dose of a standardized delphinidin-rich maqui berry extract and found that fasting blood glucose and insulin levels were lowered.

In another preliminary study, published in 2016, adults took a maqui berry extract daily for three months. At the study's end, average levels of glycosylated hemoglobin decreased. Fasting insulin and glucose levels were non-significantly lowered. LDL ("bad") cholesterol was decreased and HDL ("good") cholesterol increased significantly.

Dry Eyes

A pilot study published in Panminerva Medica in 2014 examined the use of a maqui berry extract (taken orally in a daily dosage of either 30 mg or 60 mg) in adults with moderately dry eyes for a period of 60 days. Scores on the Dry Eye-related Quality of Life Score decreased significantly after supplementation at both dosages, and tear fluid volume increased significantly after 30 days of treatment.

After 60 days, tear fluid volume dropped slightly in the group taking 30 mg, whereas the improvement persisted in those taking 60 mg per day. Further research is needed, as this study was very small (13 participants) and did not have a control group.

Possible Side Effects

Maqui berry is generally considered safe when it is eaten in small amounts as a fruit. More research is needed to determine the safety of maqui when it is taken as a supplement or in large amounts.

Theoretically, maqui berry may lower blood glucose levels, and it may reduce blood sugar levels when it is taken with diabetes medication.

You can also get tips on using supplements here, but it's important to note that self-treating a health condition with maqui and avoiding standard care may have serious consequences.

Where to Find It

Available for purchase online, maqui berry capsules, powders, and juices are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

The Takeaway

Although the research on maqui berry's anthocyanins is intriguing, large-scale clinical trials are needed to confirm its effects. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to boost your intake of anthocyanins without taking maqui supplements. Vegetables, beans, and legumes rich in anthocyanins include eggplant (with the peel), red cabbage, black soybeans, red kidney beans, black beans, and blue or red potatoes.

You can also try adding more pomegranates, dark purple grapes, blueberries, and black currants to your diet to boost your intake of delphinidins.

The vitamins and antioxidants in fruit and vegetables often begin to deteriorate as soon as the fruit or vegetable is picked, so look for local, in-season sources of anthocyanin-rich fruit or vegetables that are at their nutritional peak.

If you're still considering using maqui berry in supplement form, it's a good idea to speak with your primary care provider first to see if it's right for you.

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