The Benefits of Maqui Berry

purple smoothie
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Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) is a vibrant purple berry that grows wild in some regions of South America. Long consumed locally as a fresh fruit, maqui berry is now found in juice form or as a freeze-dried powder made from the whole fruit. It's also available in dietary supplement form as capsules.

Rich in potent antioxidants known as anthocyanins, maqui berry is said to offer numerous health benefits.

Other anthocyanin-rich fruits include blueberry, chokeberry (aronia berry), cranberries, acai berry, billberry, purple grapes, pomegranates, and tart cherry.

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

There are several ways you can use maqui berry, including mixing the juice into beverages or adding the 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 some forms of cancer (such as colon cancer) and 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 eye, improve skin health, and stimulate the immune system.

The Benefits

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

1) Diabetes

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

2) High Cholesterol

In a 2002 report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists tested human cells and found that maqui berry juice significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and also reduced oxidative stress in cells.

3) Dry Eye

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) 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 considered most safe when it is eaten as a fruit rather than taken as a supplement. More research is needed to determine the safety of maqui when taken as a supplement or in long-term or high doses.

Theoretically, maqui berry may lower blood glucose levels, and it may reduce blood sugar levels too much 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? There are plenty of ways to boost your intake of anthocyanins without taking maqui supplements, like adding more pomegranates, purple grapes, blueberries, and black raspberries to your diet.

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.

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

Sources:

Alvarado JL, Leschot A, Olivera-Nappa Á, et al. Delphinidin-Rich Maqui Berry Extract (Delphinol®) Lowers Fasting and Postprandial Glycemia and Insulinemia in Prediabetic Individuals during Oral Glucose Tolerance Tests. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:9070537.

Hitoe S, Tanaka J, Shimoda H. MaquiBright™ standardized maqui berry extract significantly increases tear fluid production and ameliorates dry eye-related symptoms in a clinical pilot trial. Panminerva Med. 2014 Sep;56(3 Suppl 1):1-6.

Watson RR, Schönlau F. Nutraceutical and antioxidant effects of a delphinidin-rich maqui berry extract Delphinol®: a review. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2015 Apr;63(2 Suppl 1):1-12.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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