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Where Tradition Meets The Lab: Camu Camu

The Cabinet — 11.06.19
by Hilary Quartner

Hilma ingredient: camu camu berry vitamin c

 

Camu Camu (Myrciaria dubia) is fun to say, and its C-led alliteration makes it easy to remember that it’s the go-to source for Vitamin C. A cherry-like fruit that grows on shrubs in swampy or flooded areas of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela, Camu Camu packs an impressive punch of ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C (over 50 times that of an orange!)

Its “super fruit” status has led exports to rise, particularly Japan, which discovered the antioxidant power of the fruit in the early 2000s, and has been the leading international importer of the fruit. In Peru, people eat Camu Camu with salt before it ripens, and when matured, its pulp is used in juices and desserts. 

Here we break down the history, science, and benefits of this powerful ingredient, which we just can’t stop saying. 

The History 

Camu Camu has been used by Amazonians for centuries to treat infections, for pain relief, and to promote longevity. The most common traditional application was through a poultice of the berry and the Camu Camu tree bark, which was put on wounds. However, the Vitamin C benefit was recognized by urban South American populations in the early 1990s, which led to the development of organized cultivation, particularly in Peru and Brazil. Today, it is used in food and as a dietary supplement. 

The Benefits 

Camu Camu is rich in Vitamin C (a serving delivers 3575% of daily value). Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, and boosts the immune system. Camu Camu also has other compounds like flavonoid antioxidants (including anthocyanins and ellegic acid). Together, these nutrients have been clinically shown to combat damage caused by free radicals.

The Science 

But how does Vitamin C actually help? Although the body cannot produce Vitamin C on its own, it contributes to important bodily functions such as the growth and repair of tissue and blocking damage from free radicals (toxins produced when your body breaks down food or exposed to things like tobacco or radiation). Basically, Camu Camu’s collection of antioxidants helps the body maintain its defense against bacteria and viruses. 

 

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder.

Footnotes

  1. https://food.knoji.com/camucamu-berries-history-gastronomical-uses-and-nutrition/
  2. https://www.livinginperu.com/business-263-agriculture-peruvian-camu-camu-fruit-conquers-japan/
  3. http://canopybridge.com/what-happened-to-camu-camu-the-rise-fall-and-recovery-of-an-amazon-super-food/
  4. https://food.knoji.com/camucamu-berries-history-gastronomical-uses-and-nutrition/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296744/
  6. https://draxe.com/nutrition/fruit/camu-camu/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23747864
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296744/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22542553/
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