AS YOU know, there are tons of amazing so called ‘super foods’ available to us, and they all have various health claims. Camu camu is becoming increasingly popular as a health supplement for its supposed antioxidant properties. But is there something to this rain forest fruit or is it just about the hype?
This isn’t a fruit you’ll find on a tree or bush locally unfortunately, as camu camu mostly grows in flooded areas of the Amazon rainforest in Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela, where its fruits and leaves are used for medicinal purposes. Its fruits are about the same size as a lemon, but light orange in colour, and full of vitamin C. Natural health claims are that camu camu has anti-viral properties that can help with cold sores, herpes, shingles, and the common cold. Others say it’s a natural energy booster that’s amazing for your eyes and gums.
There have not been extensive year-long studies on this super food, but what we do know is Camu camu is stacked full of vitamin C, in fact it contains 60 times more per serving than one orange! A teaspoon of camu camu powder has 1,180 per cent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin C, which is important for gum health, among other functions in our body.
It also contains Valine, which is an essential amino acid, meaning that we must get it in food because our bodies can’t produce it. Valine is used by the body to prevent muscle breakdown and is important for nervous system and cognitive function. It also contains potassium, which our bodies need for the proper functioning of the heart and kidneys. Camu camu is one way to get it: 71.1 milligrams are found in every 100 grams.
It also contains Leucine, which is another essential amino acid, one that our bodies need for muscle and bone tissue growth and recovery and the production of growth hormones.
The amino acid Serine is key for digestion. Serine helps to break down the bonds in proteins and polypeptides so they can be used by our bodies, encouraging better digestive systems, which let’s face it, many people need. And guess where you can find this, yes you’ve guessed it – Camu camu.
Camu camu also contains several different flavonoids, which are compounds that are found in plants and are part of what gives fruits and vegetables their beautiful colours. They mostly function in the body as antioxidants, neutralising harmful free radicals. Gallic acid is also found in camu camu, which is good news because it appears to have anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It also acts as an anti oxidant too. Ellagic Acid is another acid with antioxidant properties, which is found in this wonder fruit! It’s been studied for anti-cancer effects, though research is still very early.
How to take it?
You can include it in your diet in tablet or powder form. The powder can be used to flavour other foods, and camu-flavoured ice creams and drinks are popular in Peru.
When you should avoid it?
There is some concern that Camu camu can interfere with some chemotherapy medications. You should always let your doctor know about the supplements you are taking, but especially so if you are receiving chemo, for example.