Bogota, Colombia – Camu camu? What is that?
That is the response of most Americans when they first learn of this Amazon grown superfruit. Like acai and goji berries before them, though, camu camu is gradually becoming more familiar in the United States.
Known as a superfruit that grows in swampy or flooded areas of the Amazon rain forests, camu camu is a reddish purple fruit with a flavor that is similar to zesty lemon and ruby red raspberries. It contains the most vitamin C of any plant in the world and also serves as a bountiful source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, beta carotene, amino acids and powerful phytochemicals.
Camu camu is used to treat viral infections, eye conditions (including cataracts and glaucoma, asthma, hardening of the arteries, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, gum disease, headaches and osteoarthritis.
Camu camu is rarely found in fruit form – unless you are venturing through the Amazon rain forests – but it is available as a supplement. It caught the attention of Matt Aaron, a fitness and nutrition enthusiast who does not consume processed foods or refined sugar.
Aaron launched Valor Foods (www.valorfoods.com) to develop products and source ingredients from the Andean region of Latin America, particularly in Colombia and Peru. Valor Foods’ signature items are Mama Camu and Aqua Camu, which is fulfilling Aaron’s mission to bring the natural goodness of camu camu to American consumers.
Before launching Valor Foods, Aaron earned a marketing degree from the University of Maryland and operated an Internet marketing firm. He ventured to Colombia to work with a nonprofit organization and became captivated with a culture rich in superfoods and superfruits.
“I have long been interested in the favorable impact of superfoods and superfruits, and living in Colombia many of these are readily available,” Aaron explained. “I was not fulfilled with the Internet marketing business, and I wanted to shift my focus to my passion, which is living a healthy lifestyle and helping people learn about and experience the benefits of superfruits like camu camu.”
According to research, the camu camu berry can reach concentrations of up to 50,000 parts per million of Vitamin C. Oranges often have 1,000-3000 parts per million of vitamin C. The camu camu berry can reach concentrations up to 50,000 parts per million.
Natural vitamin C is regarded as an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to the DNA of a body’s cells. This helps prevent cancer and heart disease among other health conditions. Vitamin C, of course, is also an immune system booster that minimizes the chances of getting a cold or the flu.
Camu camu also contains around 100 bioflavanoids, Aaron said. Studies indicate that the presence of bioflavanoids in camu camu may improve the absorption of vitamin C compared to vitamin C tablets that contain equivalent vitamin C content. Another study study with smokers showed that camu camu was effective in dissolving plaque build up in the lungs.
Valor Foods offers two camu camu products. Mama Camu is a freeze-dried camu camu extract that can be mixed with yogurt, smoothies and other food items. Aqua Camu is a water soluble camu camu extract that can be mixed with water or juice.
“Our berries come from the Association of Camu Camu Producers of the Peruvian Amazon,” Aaron said. “The fruits are collected from wild Camu Camu trees, which grow naturally and without the use of fertilizer or pesticides.
“The berries are homogenized into a pulp, filtered through a sieve, and then dried into powder form,” he added. “The final product has an optimum nutrient retention, which is more than 100 times the vitamin C of a Florida orange. It comes packaged in a durable and resealable bag and contains about 50 servings of two grams each.”