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The Impact of Maqui Berry on Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases

Maqui berry
Research suggests a beneficial nutritional impact of anthocyanin-rich maqui berry extract on the prevention of chronic diseases that are associated with dietary unbalanced metabolic conditions and oxidative stress.

Maqui berry (Aristotelia chilensis) is a unique berry that only grows in the wild forests of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina. This small deep purple to black berry has been consumed from ancient times by indigenous people because of its’ appreciated natural remedial qualities for various fields of indications. Phytochemical screenings of maqui berries revealed by nature an extraordinarily rich content in many nutrients—especially the group of anthocyanins linked to the aforementioned health-promoting features. Among maqui berry anthocyanins, the delphinidin content is remarkable high and thus due to its characteristic three hydroxyl groups possesses great antioxidant activity. In this context, researchers demonstrated the juice of maqui berries to bear a threefold higher content in total polyphenols and with it also in the total radical-trapping antioxidant parameter (TRAP) in comparison to fruits like cranberries, blueberries, grapes or blackberries.

Furthermore, the regular consumption of polyphenol-rich food has repeatedly been suggested to inversely correlate with glycemic index and can exert beneficial effects on the treatment and prevention of chronic health problems like inflammatory, cardiovascular, adipogenic and other chronic diseases. Frequent excessive post-prandial glucose heights provoked by an overabundance of dietary energy impair the maintenance of glucose homeostasis and hence constitute a critical risk factor for developing diabetes. During a pilot study in 2014, Chilean researchers revealed that a single dose of a standardised maqui berry extract significantly diminished post-prandial blood glucose and insulin levels at 60 minutes after boiled rice consumption in volunteers with moderate glucose intolerance.

In addition, just recently two clinical follow-up studies confirmed that maqui berry extract i) significantly lowered blood glucose levels 30 minutes after glucose challenge, ii) daily supplementation over a period of three months continuously lowered HbA1c levels and iii) significantly decreased LDL—referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’—and in turn significantly increased the ‘good’ or protective HDL cholesterol concentrations in pre-diabetic subjects. Accordingly, maqui berry extract may represent a supportive dietary complement for maintaining healthy glucose and cholesterol levels in blood. Likewise, the antioxidative potential of the Patagonian berry was investigated and therefore researchers focused on lipid peroxidation status and analyzed plasmatic oxidized LDL (ox-LDL) and urinary 8-iso-PGF2a as reliable markers for oxidative stress.

Within the course of a four week double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention with maqui berry extract, the dietary intake resulted in a significant reduction of both parameters in healthy, overweight and smoker subjects. Another study reported dietary supplementation with maqui berry extract increases concentrations of IL-6 and decrease those of H2O2 in exhaled breath condensates of moderate cigarette smokers. The findings indicate maqui berry related respiratory changes could lower oxidative stress in the lungs and simultaneously ameliorate the risk for pulmonary infections.

Taken together, a substantial body of research suggests a beneficial nutritional impact of anthocyanin-rich maqui berry extract on the prevention of chronic diseases that are associated with dietary unbalanced metabolic conditions and oxidative stress. 

Stefanie Lang will be speaking on the Life Stages Theatre at Vitafoods Europe 2018 on the impact of maqui berry on risk factors for chronic diseases. View the full timetable and register to attend here.

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