Deep purple maqui berries—which look similar to acai berries—are one of the richest sources of antioxidants on the planet (in particular, anthocyanin antioxidants called delphinidins); and because of this, they’ve been linked to a range of benefits from improved heart health to reduced risk of UV light-induced eye damage.
But, while maqui berries may seem relatively new to the wellness scene, they’ve actually been widely consumed for centuries by the Mapuche natives of the Patagonia region of southern Chile and Argentina to improve stamina and strength. They’re also used to prepare chicha, a traditional fermented, slightly alcoholic drink.
Here’s a look at some of the most exciting potential health benefits of maqui berries (and their various nutritional compounds). Keep in mind, most of the existing research has been done on maqui berry extract, which is more concentrated than the actual fruit.
Top 6 health benefits supported by maqui berry.
Oxidative damage can drive chronic inflammation in the body, along with a number of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. But research suggests maqui can help combat this oxidative by damage by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals.
In a 2015 study, maqui berry extract was found to reduce inflammation in blood vessels and increase nitric oxide production, thus expanding blood vessels, increasing blood flow, and supporting overall cardiovascular health. Respiratory diseases are also associated with pulmonary oxidative stress and inflammatory processes. But, in another study from 2015, maqui berry extract helped reduce lung inflammation in smokers.
In addition to the cardiovascular benefits mentioned above, maqui berry may also help keep cholesterol levels in check. In a study from 2016, participants who took a maqui berry extract every day for three months and experienced a decrease in “bad” LDL cholesterol and an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol.
Surprisingly, maqui seems to be really great for your eyes—and given the number of screens we’re staring at on a daily basis, that’s a really good thing!
Research suggests that increasing your antioxidant consumption from fruits and vegetables in general can help prevent age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts; and a 2013 lab study specifically on maqui berry extract found that it helped prevent light-induced damage in eye cells. Some research suggests maqui might help prevent light-induced damage to skin as well. Additionally, a 2014 study found that among people suffering from dry eyes, supplementing with maqui berry extract for a month significantly increased tear production.
When it comes to preventing spikes and dips in blood sugar, upping your intake of foods containing fiber, protein, and fat may seem like the most obvious solution. But, interestingly, antioxidants may help keep things in balance, too. In a 2016 study, participants with prediabetes who were given a single dose of maqui berry extract experienced significantly lower fasting blood glucose and insulin levels compared to when they did not receive the extract.
In another study from the same year, people with prediabetes took a maqui berry extract every day for three months and experienced a decrease in levels of hemoglobin A1C—a measurement that correlates to average blood sugar over two to three months, not just one day.
While there haven’t been any studies on maqui berry and gut health, specifically, there have been a few studies noting an association between increased consumption of anthocyanin antioxidants and a rise in populations of good gut bacteria. More research in this area is needed, but some experts speculate anthocyanins may have a prebiotic effect, acting as food for probiotic bacteria.
Some nutrition experts believe most berries, including maqui, have cancer-fighting properties—thanks, again, to their high levels of antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Many of these plant compounds have been shown to delay cancer development through various mechanisms like altering the gut microbiome or targeting key immune cells that control inflammation, which can help suppress tumor progression. While much more research is needed in this area, it’s certainly promising.
Why maqui berry is considered a superfood.
Scientific analysis reveals that maqui berries are one of the top known sources of antioxidants and other phytochemicals, including anthocyanins, flavonoids, quercetin, and ellagic acid. Additionally, maqui berries contain a range of nutrients that benefit overall health such as vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and iron. Together, these compounds make maqui berry an extremely nutrient-dense food worthy of its superfood status.
Bottom line on maqui berry.
Although research on maqui berries is still in its early stages, preliminary findings are promising and suggest that it may play an important role in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, supporting your body’s ability to fight cancer, and improving heart health, metabolic health, and gut health—thanks, in large part, to its high levels of antioxidant and other phytochemicals.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.