Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nutritious Purple Superfruit from Chile Ranks Among the World’s Top Sources of Antioxidants

It is nearing the end of maqui berry harvest season in the Patagonia region of Chile, and native farmers are busy gathering the premium purple berries that they hand picked to be used in the new organic, freeze-dried Maqui Berry Powder from Navitas Naturals (www.navitasnaturals.com). The rainforests of South America have become a legendary source for antioxidant-rich fruits, and maqui is the latest powerhouse to join the likes of acai and camu camu in the fast-growing international superfruit category. Studies on the phytochemical composition of the berry have found an abundance of health-promoting phenolic acids and anthocyanins, as well as other flavonoids.

Maqui has a unique, slightly tart taste that some describe as having hints of blackberry, blueberry, watermelon and acai flavors. Navitas Naturals’ dark purple maqui powder is ideal for smoothies and other beverage recipes, and is also recommended to be blended with yogurt, oatmeal and cereals. Maqui berry powder also adds a boost of nutrition, flavor and color to jam and dessert recipes. A recipe for Maqui Fudge Truffles is listed below, and more delicious maqui recipes are posted at www.navitasnaturals.com/recipes.

In the ancient culture of the Mapuche, Chile’s native inhabitants, the maqui plant is sacred and symbolizes goodwill. For centuries, maqui leaves and fruits have been used in traditional native herbal medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. The growing body of modern scientific research on the maqui berry is now proving what the indigenous people have long known and cherished about this superfruit. A recent study published in Food Chemistry noted that phenolic extracts from maqui demonstrated antioxidant and cardioprotective activities in vivo.* The latest research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in July 2010 states, “In summary, phenolic extracts from the berries of A. chilensis (maqui) inhibited lipid accumulation, adipogenesis, and inflammatory mediators in vitro.”

While research studies like these specific to maqui are somewhat new, the body of research on the many active compounds found in maqui is rather extensive, such as research on antioxidants. ORAC assessments of the maqui berry by the most reputable ORAC labs have indicated that it contains more antioxidants than any other berry. Antioxidants help protect the body from toxins, chemicals and free radicals that can cause harm and disease. They are also known to combat the effects and ailments associated with aging. In addition to being an abundant source of powerful anthocyanins and polyphenols, maqui is a great source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium. Maqui also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can benefit people affected by arthritis and other inflammation ailments. There are indications that maqui may also be beneficial for weight loss programs.

Offered in an 3-ounce sealable pouch for $19.99, Navitas Naturals Maqui Berry Powder is freeze-dried, raw, kosher, gluten-free, vegan, and 100% organic. Navitas Naturals products are available at stores across the U.S. such as Whole Foods, and online at www.amazon.com and www.navitasnaturals.com.

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