Goji berries, acai, chia seeds…It seems like a new superfood golden child pops up at grocery stores and is touted by the press every year. The latest in a line of pint-size powerhouses generating buzz lately? Camu camu, a fruit from South America. You’re sure to see it at a store near you, so here’s a quick 411 on camu camu to help you make a more informed decision on whether it should end up in your morning smoothie.
Found in the Amazon rainforest, the cherry-like berries of the camu camu plant have incredibly high levels of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and important for overall body tissue health. Because our bodies don’t naturally make vitamin C, our diets are the primary source. Camu camu’s antioxidant properties reportedly help neutralize free radicals, which can damage cells. These factors have led to claims that regular ingestion of camu camu can fight disease, reduce the premature aging of skin, and—though scientific literature remains somewhat limited—have a range of other health benefits as well.
Sales of camu camu have more than doubled since 2009, with the U.S., Japan, and Europe being the largest importers of the berry, which tends to be sold in the form of a powder or capsule due to its tart taste. At present, you can purchase camu camu as a supplement in many health food stores.
The bottom line? It’s always a good idea to speak to a doctor before taking any supplement (particularly since some research has found that very high levels of Vitamin C can actually have negative health impacts, so it’s important to determine the right amount for your diet), but this potent little berry looks promising.
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