Maqui Berry Health Benefits
Maqui berry health benefits include anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving abilities. This native plant of Chilean rainforests and southern Argentina produces intensely purple berries that are both sweet and slightly tart and are also known as Chilean wineberry (Aristotelia chilensis).
Maqui berries are harvested mainly by the Mapuche Indians, who have been enjoying maqui berries and the juice for centuries. The berries and their juice have a taste reminiscent of blackberries, watermelon, and acai berries. Besides their delicious flavor, the berries and the leaves are valued for their healing powers.
Maqui berries are a very rich source of anthocyanins, the purple pigments that give the berries their color as well as their high antioxidant content. Although maqui berries contain a number of anthocyanins (see “Maqui Berry Health Benefits: Studies” below), the ones present in unusually high amounts are called delphinidins. The delphinidins, which are also found in Concord grapes, have anti-inflammatory properties and therefore may make maqui berries helpful in managing prostatitis, although thus far no studies have examined this use for maqui.
Many claims are being made about maqui berries; for example, they are said to encourage weight loss, enhance the immune system, fight aging, prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the blood, relieve inflammation and pain, suppress blood glucose, and have antibacterial properties. Any or all of these claims may be true; however, only a few studies of the medicinal properties of maqui berries have been conducted thus far.
Maqui Berry Health Benefits: Studies
In Chile, researchers explored the antioxidant abilities of maqui berries in human endothelial cell cultures. When compared with other berries,maqui had a higher phenol content and performed better on total antioxidant reactivity tests. The scientists also reported that the anthocyanin-rich fraction of the juice is responsible for most of the fruit’s antioxidant properties. (Miranda-Rottmann 2002)
A research team in Spain identified the anthocyanin composition of the berries, naming eight different pigments. They determined maqui berries have a “relative high anthocyanin content” of an average of 137.6 mg/100 gram of fresh fruit and 211.9 mg/100 gram of dry fruit. (Escribano-Bailon 2006)
The leaves of the maqui plant also possess antioxidant compounds. In a 2011 Chilean study, researchers noted that extracts from both the leaves and berries of maqui are important sources of polyphenolic compounds, including quercetin and kaempferol. They concluded that maqui extracts deserved further examination “as nutritional or medicinal supplements with potential human health benefits.” (Rubilar 2011)
Maqui leaves were the focus of a June 2011 study, in which researchers prepared various extracts to determine their impact on inflammation and pain. A variety of compounds (e.g., quercetin, kaempferol, ferulic acids, aristone, others) were isolated from the different extracts, and all the extracts had varying effects on inflammation and/or pain. The authors concluded their findings validated the use of maqui in traditional medicine for inflammation and/or pain. (Munoz 2011)
How to Use Maqui Berry
Maqui berry health benefits may be obtained from freeze dried capsules, powder, or juice. Follow the dosing directions provided with the product. No known side effects have been reported.
References for Maqui Berry Health Benefits
Escribano-Bailon MT et al. Anthocyanins in berries of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis (Mol. Stuntz). Phytochem Anal 2006 Jan-Feb; 17(1): 8-14
Killam, Chris. Maqui berries: the newest superfruit. Fox News
Miranda-Rottmann S et al. Juice and phenolic fractions of the berry Aristotelia chilensis inhibit LDL oxidation in vitro and protect human endothelial cells against oxidative stress. J Agric Food Chem 2002 Dec 18; 50(26): 7542-47
Munoz O et al. Chemical study and anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the leaves of Aristotelia chilensis (Mol) Stuntz, Elaeocarpaceae. J Pharm Pharmacol 2011 Jun; 63(6): 849-59
Rubilar M et al. Extracts of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) and Murta (Ugni molinae Turcz.): sources of antioxidant compounds and a-glucosidase/a-amylase inhibitors. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Mar 9; 59(5): 1630-37