Aristotelia / Maquibes
The dark purple maqui (Aristotelia chilensis, Elaeocarpaceae) berry is native to central and southern Chile.1,2 Chilean Mapuche Indians have consumed the berries traditionally as food, but also use them for various ailments, including infections, wound healing, fever, and diarrhea.3 Maqui berries have been used in other Chilean folk medicine for their anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties also.1
The berries have been shown to be very rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, with high amounts of the anthocyanins delphinidin and cyanidin.1,2 The juice of maqui berries has been shown to be three times as rich in total polyphenols compared to other fruits, including blackberries (Rubus fruticosus Rosaceae), raspberries (R. idaeus ssp. strigosus),wild or woodland strawberries (Fragaria vesca, Rosaceae), blueberries (Vaccinium spp., Ericaceae), and red grapes (Vitis vinifera, Vitaceae).2 The radical absorbance capacity of the juice was also three times higher than the other fruit tested. Based on their high antioxidant activity, extracts of the berry are being produced as nutraceuticals.1 Some of the commercial extractions are said to yield a minimum of 25% delphinidins, along with other constituents such as anthocyanins and phenolic acids.2
In mouse studies, maqui polyphenols were shown to protect against ischemia-reperfusion-induced heart damage, to prevent low-density lipoprotein oxidation, and to inhibit adipogenesis and inflammation in vitro.1 In a study of obese mice fed a high fat diet, maqui berries also improved hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. Other virtues attributed to maqui berry extracts include prevention of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease models and antioxidant protection of cholesterol and endothelial cells, as well as anti-inflammatory activity.3
In an observational study of smokers (used as a model of lung damage), a maqui berry extract (Nativ for Life; Santiago, Chile) showed a decrease of H2O2 (a well-known cause of oxidant damage) to similar concentrations observed in nonsmokers.1 IL-6 concentrations of smokers also increased to those in nonsmokers, suggesting a restorative effect on inflammation. Another maqui berry extract (Delphinol®; Maqui New Life, S.A.; Metropolitana de Santiago, Chile) was shown to control post-prandial blood glucose by the inhibition of sodium glucose co-transporter in the small intestine in a small double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.3 In another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 42 healthy, overweight smokers, Delphinol consumption was associated with reduced levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein in the extract group compared to baseline.4 However, no significant differences were seen in ambulatory blood pressure and lipid profile.
1Vergara D, Ávila D, Escobar E, Carrasco-Pozo C, Sánchez A, Gotteland M. The intake of maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) berry extract normalizes H2O2 and IL-6 concentrations in exhaled breath condensate from healthy smokers – an explorative study. Nutr J. March 19, 2015;14:27. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0008-1.
2Watson RR, Schónlau F. Nutraceutical and antioxidant effects of a delphinidin-rich maqui berry Delphinol®: a review.
Minevera Cardioangiol. 2015;63(Suppl. 1 to No. 2):1-12.
3Hidalgo J, Flores C, Hidalgo MA, et al. Delphinol® standardized maqui berry extract reduces postprandial blood glucose increase in individuals with impaired glucose regulation by novel mechanism of sodium glucose cotransporter inhibition. Panminerva Med. 2014;56(Suppl. 3 to No. 2):1-7.
4Davinelli S, Bertoglio JC, Zarrelli A, Pina R, Scapagnini G. A randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of an anthocyanin-maqui berry etract (Delphinol®) on oxidative stress biomarkers. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(Suppl 1):28-33.