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The maqui berry: 2009's 'it' fruit.

Each year, it seems that a new ingredient gets pushed from relative obscurity out into the nutraceutical limelight. For 2009, Ecuadorian Rainforest LLC, didn't have to do much "pushing" to make the maqui berry the new superfruit that's taking the industry by storm. The fruit, in a category becoming so vastly popular, is standing out because of its many nutritional properties and health benefits.

The Origins of Superfruits

Superfruits are becoming an increasingly popular category in the nutrition industry as the public becomes more and more aware of the nutritional value and health benefits of these various fruits. For example, pomegranate, one of the original superfruits, spawned the creation of many dietary supplements, functional beverages and foods ... and even cosmetics. This set in motion a wave of consumer demand that has been constantly increasing with time. In addition, the demand for superfruit products has led retailers, both on the high end and the low end, to stock such items. Pomegranate is for the people (whether you shop at Saks or Wal-Mart)! Moreover, this nutritional trend did not stop with pomegranates. Acai, blueberry, cranberry, goji, mangosteen and noni are good examples of berries that have been taken from 'just fruit' status to join the pomegranate as a 'superfruit' during the past few years. Why are these fruits so 'super'? What makes them better than, say, a plain old apple? Well, to be given the status of a superfruit, it must share certain characteristics, as listed below:

1. Nutrient density

2. Fulfils a significant percentage of the Daily Value for a key nutrient(s) by consumption of a single serving

3. Antioxidant strength

4. Capability to affect other molecules, biomarkers and cell or organ function in a well-designed laboratory experiment

5. Capability for horticultural breeding to modify the fruit's characteristics for improved nutrient and/or phytochemical composition

6. Intensity of current basic medical research and, if applicable, status of existing human clinical trials

7. Potential for preventing or lowering risk of disease.

Ecuadorian Rainforest LLC submits its superfruits to an independent laboratory for an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test. This test is a measurement of the antioxidant capacity in different foods. It is believed that the higher the ORAC value, the more capable that food is of destroying free radicals, thus retarding the ageing process and other diseases. This is where superfruits stand out. An average fruit or food in general does not come close to having the ORAC levels of the known superfruits. Now, up until 2008, acai, mangosteen and the others mentioned were at the top of the list in terms of ORAC values. But the game has certainly changed for 2009!


Enter Maqui Berry

The world is obsessed with antioxidants ... and that's a good thing. After all, antioxidants are capable of protecting the body from free radicals. This in turn helps the body in many ways, from boosting the immune system to slowing the signs of ageing. It is no wonder that the maqui berry, with its high level of antioxidants, is becoming so popular. To respond to this demand, Ecuadorian Rainforest has procured a reliable source of maqui berry from Chile. The maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis), otherwise known as the Chilean Wineberry, has taken the nutraceutical industry by storm. This tiny purple berry is purported to have the highest ORAC value of any of the superfruits (acai, blueberry, cranberry, grape, guarana, mangosteen, noni, pomegranate, sea-buckthorn and wolfberry). In one single sweep, the maqui berry has sent everyone in the industry scurrying this way and that--just to get a glance of the newbie. The maqui berry is native to the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile. It flowers in May and its seeds ripen from August to September. Maqui flowers are deciduous in nature and are pollinated by bees and insects. It prefers light, medium and heavy clay soils. The leaves of the maqui have been used to treat throat troubles, ulcers and as an antipyretic. On muscular fibres, it has been shown to have a relaxing effect. Intestinal tumours, tonsil inflammation, burns and diarrhoea are also positively affected by maqui. (1)


Maqui Berry: The Science Behind the Ingredient

According to a clinical study conducted by the laboratory of nutrition and bromatology in Salamenca, Spain, by Escribano-Bailon, et al., "the relative high anthocyanin content and the important presence of polar polyglycosylated derivatives makes the fruits of A. chilensis an interesting source of anthocyanin extracts for food and pharmaceutical uses." (2) Yet another clinical study conducted at the University of Santiago, Chile, stated: "We found that the endemic Chilean berry, Aristotelia chilensis (ach), has higher phenol content and scores better for total radicaltrapping potential and total antioxidant reactivity in vitro antioxidant capacity tests when compared with different commercial berries. The juice of ach is also effective in inhibiting copper-induced LDL oxidation. In human endothelial cell cultures, the addition of ach juice significantly protects against hydrogen peroxide-induced intracellular oxidative stress and is dose-dependent. The aqueous, anthocyanin-rich fraction of ach juice accounts for most of ach's antioxidant properties. These results show that ach is a rich source of phenolics with high antioxidant capacity and suggest that it may have antiatherogenic properties." (3)


At the moment, the maqui berry holds a mystery and allure that is sure to infuse old ideas with new energy. What is in store for the maqui berry and those who are bold enough to seek it out, possess it and make it their own remains to be seen. One thing's for sure, though, Ecuadorian Rainforest is your supplier for maqui berry.


(1.) N.P. Seeram, "Berry Fruits: Compositional Elements, Biochemical Activities and the Impact of Their Intake on Human Health, Performance and Disease," J. Agric. Food Chem. 56(3), 627-629 (2008). PMID: 18211023 [PubMed -indexed for MEDLINE]

(2.) M.T. Escribano-Bailon, et al., "Anthocyanins in Berries of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis [Mol.] Stuntz)," Phytochem. Anal. 17(1), 8-14 (2006).

(3.) H. Araya, et al., "Antioxidant Capacity of Fruits and Vegetables Cultivated in Chile," Arch. Latinoam Nutr. 56(4), 361-365 (2006).

For more information

Steve Siegel, VP

Ecuadorian Rainforest

25 Main Street

Building #6, Belleville

New Jersey 07109, USA.

Tel. +1 973 759 2002
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Title Annotation:functional ingredients
Author:Siegel, Steve
Publication:Nutraceutical Business & Technology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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