by Dr. Ariel Policano
I know what you’re thinking, you finally figured out how to pronounce “acai” (AH-SAW-E) and already there is another super-berry to think about? But don’t worry, maqui (pronounced MA-KEY) is a lot easier to say, tastes amazing, and people are raving about the antioxidant value and a whole lot of other benefits. Should you be interested? Let’s find out.
Berries are truly an interesting fruit. Doesn’t thinking about the height of berry season with all the blueberries, blackberries and raspberries just make your mouth water? You are attracted to the beautiful reds, blues and purples for a reason. The colorful pigments are known as anthocyanins and they have an impressive array of health benefits. Those include reducing inflammation, helping to fight off bacterial infections, stabilizing blood sugar and many more.
I remember seeing maqui berry powder for the first time. Wow! I was so amazed by its beautiful deep purple. I thought there was something magical about this berry just based on that incredible color. As I looked more deeply into the research on maqui, I discovered that it is definitely a worthy super-berry to consider for your morning smoothie or other super-drink because of the anthocyanins and other impressive components.
Most berries are beneficial to human health. Many tend to be high in antioxidants and flavonoids. Maqui berry is exceptionally high in both flavonoids and antioxidants. Maqui scores 616 on the ORAC scale which is a measurement of antioxidant activity. This is more than three times as much as acai (which scores a 185), and almost 20 times the amount of blueberries (32). Antioxidants are great protectors of the cell from free radical damage.
Due to the high flavonoid content of maqui, it is very good at reducing inflammation in the body. Inflammation is now correlated with many chronic illnesses such as cancer, fibromyalgia and heart disease. Reducing inflammation may reduce various chronic aches and pains. Chronic knee pain or shoulder pain? Try 1 tsp. of maqui berry powder each day in your smoothie or mixed in juice.
Maqui berry creates some of its anti-inflammatory effects by acting as a COX-2 inhibitor. If you think that sounds familiar, you may know of drugs that are created to act as COX-2 inhibitors. Some of them have had terrible side effects. Here is the advantage of using food as medicine – no side effects! A COX-2 inhibitor literally blocks the biochemical production of inflammatory substances. These are known as prostaglandins and they cause inflammation and pain as a part of the immune response. Take maqui and you are likely to have less inflammation and pain as a result.
Allergies anyone? If you have seasonal allergies, I often recommend quercitin as a supplement. Quercitin stabilizes the mast cells, which are the ones that are reacting to pollens and causing the release of histamine. It turns out that maqui is very high in quercitin.
There are many types of flavonoids in maqui berry. These are known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are plant pigments, actually the source of these beautiful attractive colors in the berries. It is no surprise that with the beautiful purple of the maqui comes a huge array of anthocyanins.
These plant pigments are known for having anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects and are looking promising in anti-cancer research. They may also have benefits on blood vessels and platelets and help to improve heart health.
One of the most fascinating anthocyanins in maqui is called delphinidin. A 2006 research study published in the professional Journal of Carcinogenesis reveals some impressive anti-cancer or cancer preventing potential of maqui. This is just an initial study but still very compelling. Several of my colleagues are using maqui berry in their naturopathic oncological practice.
Here is a summary of the benefits of maqui:
- Decreases LDL oxidation (the dangerous part of having high LDL is the oxidation of these fats)
- Seasonal allergy relief
- Improvement in blood vessel health
- It is high in iron, calcium and vitamin C
- Stabilizes healthy blood sugar levels
- COX-2 inhibitor
- Preliminary research indicates it may have cancer-fighting or cancer protective properties according to research published in the Journal of Carcinogenesis.
Maqui Berry Powder
(raw, freeze-dried, pesticide-free)
Maqui Berries – Whole
(raw, freeze-dried, pesticide-free)
Dr. Ariel Policano is a leading naturopathic physician with a special focus on women’s health, promoted through her Women Go Raw Health Tours. With over 15 years of experience using raw foods and superfoods to treat conditions that range from fatigue and menopause to cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.