If you keep up on the latest news in berries high in antioxidants, you're probably familiar with the health benefits of blueberries and strawberries. You may even have flirted with goji, pomegranate, and acai berries. But have you heard of the latest berry to make news--the maqui berry?

Scientifically known as Aristotelia chilensis, the maqui berry is found in Argentina and the Patagonia region of Chile, and proponents say it outranks even the aforementioned "super berries" in terms of antioxidants. A Chilean study published in 2002 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry indicated that the maqui berry has a higher phenol (a type of antioxidant) content and a greater ability to trap disease-causing free radicals than other commercial berries with which it was compared. Its juice in particular was found to counteract oxidation and oxidative stress, which can contribute to disease. Legend has it that the Mapuche Indians of Patagonia, who lived in the area for hundreds of years, were unconquerable by their adversaries because they were bigger, stronger, faster and healthier than their enemies. The reason? Their consumption of the maqui berry.

So how you do take advantage of the health benefits of this small, purplish-black fruit? Since maqui is not widely available in this country, curious consumers can buy maqui juice and/or supplements from online stores or possibly their local health-food store. But because the FDA has not endorsed maqui berry juice or supplements, use caution when trying this product. And remember that whether or not maqui gives you a boost, no one food can do it all, even a "super" food. It's still important to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from all the different food groups to maintain optimal health.


U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.ars.usda.gov; Miranda-Rottman S, Aspillaga AA, Perez DD, Vasquez L, Martinez ALF, Leighton F (2002). Juice and Phenolic Fractions of the Berry Aristotelia chilensis Inhibit LDL Oxidation in Vitro and Protect Human Endothelial Cells Against Oxidative Stress. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 50(26), 7542-7547.