When an ingredient is dubbed a superfood, included in probiotic supplements, supported by Goop, found in some skincare products, and has a cute name, you know it's worth investigating. Such is the case with camu camu, a berry that's beloved for its powerful antioxidant properties, and is making its way into everything from smoothie bowls to moisturizers.
Camu camu is an Amazonian shrub that's native to regions such as Brazil and Peru, and grows berries that look a lot like grapes. Like other superfruits, such as golden berries, the camu camu fruit tastes sour when it's eaten raw, but it's more tolerable when it's dried and ground into a powder. Many people buy the extracted camu camu powder to mix into smoothies and yogurt, or take camu camu in supplement-form instead.
As far as camu camu's nutritional benefits go, its "superpower" seems to come from the high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C in the fruit. A half-cup of camu camu berries can contain up to 6,000 mg of vitamin C, which is a significant amount. (For perspective, a one-cup serving of raw oranges contains 120 mg of vitamin C.) We know that vitamin C is an important nutrient that does way more than just combat colds — it also helps your body protect its cells and make collagen. On top of that, camu camu is also high in flavonoids, which are dietary compounds that have an antioxidant effect and are associated with lots of positive health benefits. Studies on mice suggest that consuming camu camu could be one way to decrease inflammation.
For all these reasons, adding camu camu to your smoothie when you're looking for a vitamin C boost isn't necessarily a bad idea — though it might be a little costly. For example, a three-ounce bag of camu camu powder from Navitas Organics costs a whopping $22.99. Unless you really love the specifically sour taste of camu camu, you might be better off adding some tastier whole foods to your smoothies.
While it's easy to be entranced by whatever superfood people are gushing about in the moment, you might be surprised to find that other foods you eat on the regular are just as nutrient-rich. For example, there are lots of everyday foods that you might be surprised have a lot of antioxidants, such as Russet potatoes, artichokes, pecans, and cinnamon. Other antioxidant-heavy fruits include cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries. You can also find hearty amounts of vitamin C in citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwis, and broccoli. Or, if you prefer to reach for camu camu, do you.