Also known as camucamu, camocamo and cacari, camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is an extraordinarily healthy fruit, particularly rich in vitamin C, an extremely powerful natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Camu camu refers to both the tree belonging to the Myrtaceae family and its fruit. The tree is of small build, reaching a maximum of only 3-5 meters in height and grows along the Amazon basin. It occurs naturally in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
Great efforts are being put into stopping the overharvesting of the wild fruit in favor of commercial planting. Camu camu trees are highly resistant to flooding, which is why they thrive in the flood plains along the Amazon river. The species yields good amounts of fruit and is estimated to have a productive decade-long lifespan.
What does the camu camu fruit look like? The camu camu is a small, round fruit about the size of a mirabelle plum. It has a thin skin with red, purple, yellow and green all mashed together. The riper the fruit, the darker its color (usually a purplish-red). It has a soft, almost translucid white pulp, similar in appearance to that of lychee and two oval, light brown seeds. What does camu camu taste like? As a result of its extremely high vitamin C content, the camu camu fruit is extremely sour. It is so sour that not many people can eat it by itself. Sprinkling sugar, honey or diluting the juice in water are popular choices.
What does camu camu smell like? Camu camu has a slightly sweet, light citrus fragrance. What is camu camu good for? Despite all the proclaimed health effects of camu camu, there is actually little research on its properties, nutritional value or health benefits. Nevertheless, it would appear that this Amazonian fruit currently holds the record for having the highest concentration of vitamin C in the plant world.
With an estimated of around 1880-2280 mg of vitamin C (the riper and sweeter the fruit, the lower the content), camu camu is labeled as an extremely healthy fruit. Not to mention its high anthocyanin content (from the purple-red skin) as well as generous amounts of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, thiamine, leucine, valine and serine. In other words, camu camu fruit boast extraordinary antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, improve skin aspect, boost immunity and fight herpes, bacterial and viral infections.
Here are the 7 most prominent health benefits and nutrition facts of camu camu:
1) Amazing vitamin C content. According to existing research, camu camu contains 1882 up to 2280 mg of vitamin C per 100 g of fruit, making it the richest source of vitamin C in the fruit world. With 2.2 g of vitamin C, camu camu offers an extraordinary protection against heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.
2) Strengthens the immune system. Because of its incredible vitamin C content, camu camu helps strengthen the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness of white blood cells against bacteria and viruses, reducing the duration and severity of various bacterial and viral infections, notably respiratory diseases.
3) High in antioxidants. Aside from an amazing ascorbic acid content, camu camu contains numerous other antioxidants such as beta-carotene and anthocyanins. Antioxidants protect cells against damage that may cause uncontrolled growth leading to cancer, slow down aging signs, support cardiovascular and prevent cognitive decline.
4) Antidepressant properties. Camu camu was found to possess quite potent natural antidepressant properties, contributing to the optimal functioning of the nervous system. Consuming the fresh fruit regularly, or even extracts and powders made from it, is believed to improve the condition. However, there are many factors to be taken into account when talking about depression and camu camu should be a complementary treatment, not a substitute for regular medication until further research on the matter becomes available.
5) Excellent anti-inflammatory. High inflammation levels in the body have been linked to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and so on. Having generous amounts of vitamin C in your diet was found to help keep inflammation under control and reduce chronic disease risks (see article on the best anti-inflammatory foods).
6) Acts as a hepatoprotective. It has been established that high amouns of vitamin C in particular aid the liver in more ways than one. Aside from the fact that it does not conflict with conventional liver medication, the high amount of vitamin C in camu camu can help promote liver regeneration and detoxification as well as support its activity.
7) Useful for herpes outbreaks. Eating camu camu fruits or taking extracts can be of great help in managing Herpes simplex outbreaks. The fruit is often available in powder or juice form, but make sure you purchase it from a reliable source. The high amounts of vitamin C in camu camu promote healing and boost the immune system to better deal with the virus.