Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) is a type of berry native to South America. Long consumed in whole and juice form, maqui is now found in a number of dietary supplements (including powders, capsules and juice blends).
Uses for Maqui
Maqui is touted as a natural remedy for several health conditions, including arthritis and high cholesterol. In addition, maqui is purported to protect against some forms of cancer (such as colon cancer) and a number of inflammation-related diseases (including diabetes and heart disease).
Benefits of Maqui
Studies show that maqui contains anthocyanins, a type of potent antioxidant. Research suggests that consumption of anthocyanins may boost your defense against high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, preliminary studies indicate that anthocyanins may possess anti-cancer properties, fight obesity and enhance heart health.
Although anthocyanins may offer a range of health benefits, there is currently a lack of research on the specific health effects of maqui. One of the few available studies includes a 2002 report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In tests on human cells, scientists looked at whether maqui extract helped decrease levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Results revealed that maqui extract did help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, as well as fight oxidative stress and aid in prevention of atherosclerosis.
In a more recent study (Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology), tests on mice revealed that certain chemicals found in maqui may have helped lessen pain (as well as offered antioxidant benefits and reduced inflammation).
Is Maqui Safe?
Very little is known about the safety of long-term intake of maqui supplements. If you're considering taking maqui supplements, make sure to consult your physician.
Where to Find Maqui Supplements
Available for purchase online, maqui capsules, powders and juices are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.
Should You Use Maqui Supplements for Health Purposes?
Due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend maqui supplements for any health purpose. To increase your intake of anthocyanins without taking maqui supplements, make sure to include anthocyanin-rich foods like berries, red onions, kidney beans, pomegranates and grapes in your diet.
If you're considering using maqui supplements to treat a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen. It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with maqui and avoiding standard care may have serious consequences.
Basu A, Rhone M, Lyons TJ. "Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health." Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar;68(3):168-77.
Cassidy A, O'Reilly ÉJ, Kay C, Sampson L, Franz M, Forman JP, Curhan G, Rimm EB. "Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults." Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):338-47.
Céspedes CL, Alarcon J, Valdez-Morales M, Paredes-López O. "Antioxidant activity of an unusual 3-hydroxyindole derivative isolated from fruits of Aristotelia chilensis (Molina) Stuntz." Z Naturforsch C. 2009 Sep-Oct;64(9-10):759-62.
Escribano-Bailón MT, Alcalde-Eon C, Muñoz O, Rivas-Gonzalo JC, Santos-Buelga C. "Anthocyanins in berries of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz)." Phytochem Anal. 2006 Jan-Feb;17(1):8-14.
Faria A, Pestana D, Teixeira D, de Freitas V, Mateus N, Calhau C. "Blueberry anthocyanins and pyruvic acid adducts: anticancer properties in breast cancer cell lines." Phytother Res. 2010 Dec;24(12):1862-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3213.
Mazza GJ. "Anthocyanins and heart health." Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2007;43(4):369-74.
Miranda-Rottmann S, Aspillaga AA, Pérez DD, Vasquez L, Martinez AL, Leighton F. "Juice and phenolic fractions of the berry Aristotelia chilensis inhibit LDL oxidation in vitro and protect human endothelial cells against oxidative stress." J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 18;50(26):7542-7.
Muñoz O, Christen P, Cretton S, Backhouse N, Torres V, Correa O, Costa E, Miranda H, Delporte C. "Chemical study and anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the leaves of Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz, Elaeocarpaceae." J Pharm Pharmacol. 2011 Jun;63(6):849-59. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01280.x.
Prior RL, Wu X, Gu L, Hager TJ, Hager A, Howard LR. "Whole berries versus berry anthocyanins: interactions with dietary fat levels in the C57BL/6J mouse model of obesity." J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):647-53.
Rubilar M, Jara C, Poo Y, Acevedo F, Gutierrez C, Sineiro J, Shene C. "Extracts of Maqui ( Aristotelia chilensis ) and Murta ( Ugni molinae Turcz.): sources of antioxidant compounds and α-Glucosidase/α-Amylase inhibitors." J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):1630-7.