Maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis) is an exotic, dark-purple fruit that grows wild in South America.
It’s mainly harvested by the native Mapuche Indians of Chile, who have used the leaves, stems and berries medicinally for thousands of years ().
Today, maqui berry is marketed as a “superfruit” due to its high antioxidant content and potential health benefits, including reduced inflammation, blood sugar control and heart health.
Here are 10 benefits and uses of maqui berry.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage, inflammation and disease over time ().
One way to prevent these effects is by eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as maqui berry. Antioxidants work by stabilizing free radicals, thus helping prevent cell damage and its adverse effects.
Studies suggest that diets high in antioxidants may reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis ().
Maqui berries are reportedly packed with up to three times more antioxidants than blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. In particular, they’re rich in a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins (, , ).
Anthocyanins give the fruit its deep purple color and may be responsible for many of its purported health benefits (, ).
In a four-week clinical study, people who took 162 mg of a maqui berry extract three times daily had significantly reduced blood measures of free radical damage, compared to the control group ().
Summary Maqui berry is packed with antioxidants, which may reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
Research suggests that maqui berries have the potential to combat conditions associated with inflammation, including heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and certain lung conditions.
In multiple test-tube studies, compounds in maqui berry have demonstrated powerful anti-inflammatory effects (, ).
Similarly, test-tube studies involving the concentrated maqui berry supplement Delphinol suggest that maqui may reduce inflammation in blood vessels — making it a potential ally in preventing heart disease ().
Additionally, in a two-week clinical study, smokers who took 2 grams of maqui berry extract twice daily had significant decreases in measures of lung inflammation ().
Summary Maqui berry demonstrates promising anti-inflammatory effects in test-tube and clinical studies. This suggests that it may help combat conditions associated with inflammation.
Maqui berry is rich in anthocyanins, potent antioxidants that have been linked to a healthier heart.
The Nurses Health Study in 93,600 young and middle-aged women found that diets highest in anthocyanins were associated with a 32% reduced risk of heart attacks, compared to those lowest in these antioxidants ().
In another large study, diets high in anthocyanins were associated with a 12% reduced risk of high blood pressure ().
Though more definitive research is needed, maqui berry extract may also help reduce heart disease risk by lowering blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
In a three-month clinical study in 31 people with prediabetes, 180 mg of the concentrated maqui berry supplement Delphinol reduced blood LDL levels by an average of 12.5% ().
Summary The potent antioxidants in maqui berry may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in your blood and reduce heart disease risk.
Maqui berry may help naturally moderate blood sugar levels.
Test-tube studies have demonstrated that compounds found in maqui berry may positively affect the way your body breaks down and uses carbs for energy ().
In a three-month clinical study in people with prediabetes, 180 mg of maqui berry extract once daily reduced average blood sugar levels by 5% ().
Though this 5% decrease seems small, it was enough to bring participants’ blood sugar down to normal levels ().
While more research is needed, these benefits may be due to maqui’s high anthocyanin content.
In a large population study, diets high in these compounds were associated with a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes ().
Summary Diets high in the plant compounds found in maqui berry are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Plus, one clinical study suggests that maqui berry extract may help lower blood sugar in people with prediabetes.
Every day, your eyes are exposed to many sources of light, including the sun, fluorescent lights, computer monitors, phones and televisions.
Excessive light exposure can cause damage to your eyes ().
However, antioxidants — such as those found in maqui berry — can offer protection against light-induced damage (, 18).
A test-tube study found that maqui berry extract prevented light-induced damage in eye cells, suggesting that the fruit may be beneficial for eye health ().
However, maqui berry extracts are much more concentrated in beneficial antioxidants than the fruit itself. More research is needed to determine if eating the fruit has similar effects.
Summary Maqui berry extract may help reduce light-induced damage to your eyes. However, more research is needed to determine if the fruit itself has similar effects.
Your intestines house trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi — collectively known as your gut microbiome.
Though this may sound alarming, a diverse gut microbiome can positively influence your immune system, brain, heart and — of course — your gut ().
However, issues can arise when bad bacteria outweigh beneficial ones.
Interestingly, studies suggest that plant compounds in maqui and other berries may help reshape your gut microbiota, increasing the number of good bacteria (, ).
These beneficial bacteria metabolize the plant compounds, using them to grow and multiply ().
Summary Maqui berry may benefit gut health by promoting the growth of good bacteria in your intestines.
Many preliminary studies on maqui berry suggest that the fruit may offer additional benefits:
- Anticancer effects: In test-tube and animal studies, the type of antioxidants found in maqui berry demonstrated potential to reduce cancer cell replication, suppress tumor growth and induce cancer cell death (, ).
- Anti-aging effects: Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause premature aging of your skin. In test-tube studies, maqui berry extract suppressed damage to cells caused by ultraviolet rays ().
- Dry eye relief: A small 30-day study in 13 people with dry eyes found that 30–60 mg of a concentrated maqui berry extract each day increased tear production by roughly 50% (25, ).
Since preliminary studies have shown promising results, it’s likely that more research will be done on this superfruit in the future.
Summary Preliminary research indicates that maqui berry may have anticancer and anti-aging effects. It may also help alleviate symptoms of dry eye.
Fresh maqui berries are easy to come by if you live in or visit South America, where they grow abundantly in the wild.
Otherwise, you can find juices and powders made from maqui berry online or at your local health food store.
Maqui berry powders are a great option since most are made from freeze-dried maqui. Science suggests that this is the most effective drying method, as it retains most of the potent antioxidants ().
What’s more, maqui berry powder is an easy and delicious addition to fruit smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt. You can also find countless tasty recipes online — from maqui berry lemonade to maqui berry cheesecake and other baked goods.
Summary Fresh maqui berries may be hard to come by unless you live in or visit South America. However, maqui berry powder is readily available online and at certain stores and makes for an easy addition to fruit smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, desserts and more.
Maqui berry has been deemed a superfruit due to its high content of potent antioxidants.
It demonstrates many potential benefits, including improved inflammation, “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and blood sugar control.
Some research suggests that it may also have anti-aging effects and promote gut and eye health.
Though fresh maqui berries are difficult to get, maqui berry powder is easily accessible and a healthy addition to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, desserts and more.