What is camu camu?
Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is the fruit of a tree of the same name, native to the Amazonian forest, and belonging to the Myrtaceae family – like the guava. Sometimes half submerged, it grows on the banks of rivers in the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, where it is sometimes cultivated by canoe. Camu Camu is part of the family of super fruits !
Its tree grows mainly in the wild, but larger-scale cultivation is developing as its reputation evolves. It is a small, very tart fruit with a pink, red and yellow colour that has been particularly popular with Amazonian populations since pre-Colombian times.
Its highly pigmented skin gives it a candy-pink colour when consumed as juice or sorbet, and its seeds are removed to avoid any bitterness. It is customary to add sugar to any preparation of camu camu in order to soften its taste.
Beyond these gustatory and visual aspects, if camu camu is more and more successful in our country, it is because it is one of the fruits with the highest vitamin C content.
Indeed, this fruit contains 16 times more vitamin C than oranges and lemons, and 20 times more than kiwi fruit!
It is a particularly nutritious fruit. In addition to vitamin C, its richness in antioxidants – flavonoids, and other minerals – means that it is often found as a food supplement in powder form.
The benefits of camu camu and its nutritional density are gradually becoming the subject of scientific research. Today the studies are still limited, but they are tending to develop, given the nutritional qualities and virtues already recognized for health.
The benefits of camu camu
High vitamin C content
Camu camu is an excellent source of vitamin C, it contains between 3% and 9%. One teaspoon of powder contains 750% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) in vitamin C.
Vitamin C is essential to us for several reasons: it strengthens the immune system and has antioxidant activity by protecting our cells from free radicals. It also allows our body to produce collagen, the protein that structures and strengthens our skin, muscles, bones, etc…
It also helps to fix the iron in our bodies.
This study from the State University of Maringá in Brazil demonstrated the high content and preservation capacity of vitamin C contained in camu camu.
In addition to vitamin C, which is a well-known antioxidant, camu camu is particularly loaded with other antioxidant substances, including flavonoids, tannins and carotenoids.
The latter help protect our cells and fight against oxidative stress and free radicals.
This study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, among others, has demonstrated the strong antioxidant activity of camu camu.
The camu camu has anti-inflammatory properties, in particular thanks to the ellagic acid it contains.
This polyphenol, present in many fruits and high content in camu camu, acts directly against inflammations.
This study of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology conducted on mice has demonstrated its anti-inflammatory properties.
Camu camu is a natural anti-microbial, which helps to fight against bad bacteria and pathogens in our body, especially in the digestive tract.
This study from the Tokyo University of Agriculture conducted in vitro showed that camu camu skin and seeds reduce the growth of the potentially pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli and Streptococcus mutans.
Would help lose weight
Camu camu is also reputed to contribute to weight loss. Its consumption is therefore recommended as part of slimming diets.
This fruit would help to burn fat more easily and promote a good intestinal flora.
It would also reduce blood sugar levels.
This study conducted by two Quebec universities on obese mice demonstrated the ability of camu camu to increase the number of calories burned and act beneficially on the intestinal flora.
How to consume camu camu?
Favour organic camu camu camu
As with all the foods we recommend on Darwin Nutrition, we recommend that you favour camu camu from organic farming. It is good timing, this one is often from wild or small-scale crops, and grown without fertilizers or pesticides. We prefer a fruit whose origin is well indicated by the distributor, and which has the labels certifying organic agriculture, whatever the form in which it is consumed: powder, juice, or fresh fruit (the latter are only available in the Amazon!).
Camu camu powder
Camu camu powder, easy to export, is obtained by dehydrating and grinding the fruit.
It is in powder form that camu camu is commercially available in Europe. Always make sure that the powder is 100% camu camu and contains no additives or preservatives. It is easily mixed with a smoothie, a yoghurt, a milkshake…
It can also be mixed effectively with water, but beware of its rather bitter taste when not accompanied by another fruit or sweet food.
Camu camu powder is sometimes mixed with other super fruit powders, such as acerola (the vitamin C content is then increased tenfold) or maca, a super food also originating from Peru.
Camu camu juice
Camu camu juice is highly prized by Amazonian populations, especially in Peru.
If you are lucky enough to travel to the Peruvian or Brazilian Amazon, you will inevitably taste fresh camu camu juice! Available in all restaurants, street canteens, and in local people’s homes, it is part of what we call “refrescos”. A good shot of vitamin C! Be careful with the addition of sugar, more or less consequent according to places.
There are also industrial juices based on camu camu, which are mixtures with other fruits (apples for example). Local curiosity, but very limited nutritional intake!
Fresh camu camu
In reality, fresh camu camu is not consumed other than in juice with added sugar. As it is very bitter, it is not usual to consume it directly as fresh fruit. But if you have the opportunity to taste it, don’t hesitate!
Unless you are travelling in the Amazon – which is what we want you to do – you will probably be consuming powdered camu camu.
On starts with a 30-day course of treatment to see the effects, and continues beyond that if needed.
Une two teaspoons a day are sufficient – preferably in the morning to limit sleep disturbances.
Contraindications and side effects
By respecting the recommended doses, there are no contraindications or known side effects to its consumption.
Otherwise, the main risk lies in an overdose of vitamin C, which can cause diarrhoea.
Camu camu is nevertheless not recommended in case of kidney problems.