You’ve heard for years about the many health perks of eating berries like blueberries and raspberries. But there’s a lesser-known little gem that should be on your radar for its health-enhancing superpowers: the maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis). Native to Chile and a relative of the blueberry, the fruit has been used for centuries as a treatment for fever, wound healing and joint pain. And now science proves that the berry does all of that and so much more.
Maqui berry benefits stem from polyphenols
Maqui berry has more polyphenols than almost any other berry or fruit, say researchers in Nutrition Journal. These plant compounds protect the body against cellular and DNA damage to help us slow aging; enhance immunity; ward off diabetes, heart disease and hypertension; and even safeguard against cancer, says biochemist Barry Sears, PhD, president of the Inflammation Research Foundation in Peabody, Massachusetts. “There are about 8,000 polyphenols and they’re very complex structures,” explains Dr. Sears, who has published some 25 studies on the berry extract.
Maqui berries are rich in a type of polyphenol called a delphinidin. Blueberries also have them, but at a level 14 times lower than maqui berries, says Dr. Sears. (Click through for a surprising benefit of blueberries.) “Delphinidins are the most water-soluble of all the polyphenols, so they get into the blood very quickly,” he says. And once cells absorbs this compound, it activates an enzyme called AMPK, a master switch that controls energy, metabolism and a host of body processes that impact health. “AMPK is basically the great and powerful Oz behind the curtain,” says Dr. Sears. If you activate AMPK, you burn fat faster, you stop the synthesis of excess cholesterol and you give rise to the healing of damaged tissue.”
How to get the most benefit from maqui berries
Instead of eating maqui berries (which are virtually nonexistent in grocery-store produce aisles and farmers markets in North America), you’ll want to supplement with a maqui extract containing the trademarked version known as Delphinol, Dr. Sears says. This extract has an extremely high concentration of bioavailable delphinidins to ensure that cells can absorb them and activate AMPK, which in turn triggers a process that releases powerful antioxidative enzymes that are far more effective in destroying inflammatory free radicals than simple dietary supplements such as vitamin C.
If you supplement with maqui berry extract daily, you’ll reduce (or prevent) the oxidative stress that triggers the aging process — specifically the cellular damage that can bring on disease. The result? You’ll look and feel younger. “If you can get the delphinidins into each of the 37 trillion cells in the human body and activate AMPK, you have the keys to the kingdom and to living a longer, healthier life. It’s a million times more powerful than taking vitamin C or other antioxidants.”
The top 9 Maqui berry benefits
Maqui berry benefit 1: speeds slimming
A study published in the journal Antioxidants found that mice given maqui berry extract increased their metabolism and their ability to burn fat. Says Dr. Sears: “Activating AMPK shuts down the body’s synthesis of fat and causes burning of stored body fat.”
Benefit 2: soothes dry, itchy eyes
Dry eye is very common and uncomfortable, notes women’s health expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of several bestselling books, including Radical Longevity. “But studies show supplementing with maqui berry can refresh dry eyes in as little as 30 days — without eye drops.” (Click through to see more about how blue light glasses may help with dry eye.) Indeed, research in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that taking a daily supplement with maqui berry extract — combined with omega-3 fatty acids — increased tear production by 89% and improved the discomfort of dry eye by 57% in four weeks. (Click through for more tips to ease dry eye).
The researchers credit maqui berries with guarding against age-related damage to the tear-producing lacrimal glands, while the omega-3s nourish the meibomian glands, which produce the oily layer in tears that keeps eyes moist. A supplement that contains both nutrients: Avenova Eye Health Support with MaquiBright (Buy at Avenova, $41.95). Bonus: Maqui berries can help soothe eye strain that triggers headache pain behind the eyes.
Maqui berry benefit 3: lowers blood sugar
Chilean researchers found that supplementing with Delphinol significantly lowered fasting levels of insulin and glucose in subjects who were prediabetic. (Click through for ways to reverse prediabetes naturally.) Dr. Sears says that when the extract activates AMPK, it accelerates removal of blood sugar from the blood into the cell, so blood sugar levels go down. To get the effects, he recommends taking a daily 150-mg dose, the amount used in the published clinical study.
Benefit 4: reduces cholesterol
The same Chilean study also found that supplementing with the maqui extract lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
Maqui berry benefit 5: boosts immunity
A study in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy found that phytochemicals, including delphinidins, act as immunomodulators, keeping the immune system functioning at its peak.
Benefit 6: improves brain function
The anthocyanins that give berries (including maquis) their deep hue may offer an inexpensive way to treat age-related neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, report researchers in the journal Molecules. They credit anthocyanins’ ability to reduce oxidative stress in brain cells.
Maqui berry benefit 7: reduces your risk of cancer
A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition found that delphinidins exhibited strong activity against cancer, including breast, ovarian, colon, prostate, lung, liver, bone, blood and skin cancers. The researchers say the anti-cancer effects are the result of delphinidins’ ability to interfere with protein targets and signaling pathways that allow cancer growth.
Benefit 8: reverses skin aging
Japanese researchers found that supplementating with Delphinol improved skin tone, reduced redness and increased collagen to improve skin’s strength and appearance.
Maqui berry benefit 9: improves GI health
Traditional medicine practitioners have used maqui berry for centuries to relieve digestive woes, and a study in the journal Nutrients found that mice consuming the berry extract had significant relief from irritable bowel disease, thanks to the berry’s anti-inflammatory properties.
How much maqui berry do I need to get the benefits?
For overall reduction in the whole-body oxidative stress that brings on aging, Dr. Sears advises taking 500 mg of maqui extract daily. At those levels, “It’s a million times more powerful than taking vitamin C or other antioxidants.”
Interested in more benefits of berries or ways to work them into your diet? Read on!
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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