Maqui berries, as well as their easier-to-find cousins acai berries, are suddenly all the rage. And with good reason. Delicious and easy to squeeze into any diet, these South American fruits boast some serious health-boosting credentials.
So what’s their secret? Where can you get them? And how could you include them in your day?
What are Maqui berries?
Maqui berries are the small, black berries that grow on the Maqui tree, a plant species native to the rainforests of southern and central Chile. With a flavour similar to blackberries, they’re also known as the ‘Chilean wineberry’. And while their taste is a treat in itself, it’s what’s inside these health-boosting beauties that’s got everybody talking.
Plant foods that are dark red, blue, purple and black in colour are almost always high in Anthocyanins. This type of phytonutrient is packed into some of our fruit and veg staples like raspberries, blueberries and aubergines – but Maqui berries are particularly rich in them.
Given that Anthocyanins have been linked to a variety of health benefits, this is obviously great news. Thought to have antioxidant properties, they’re reported to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and have anti-inflammatory effects. It’s even been suggested that they may play a role in weight management, by mildly reducing fat absorption from food.
Where can I buy them?
The bad news is that Maqui berries are hard to come by. The rainforests where they grow are remote, inaccessible and inhospitable for humans. What’s more, they are only ready for harvesting between December and March in a typical growing season, and are very sensitive to weather extremes like frost. But the good news is that there’s a readily-available alternative that promises many of the same great health benefits in an equally delicious package; Acai berries.
Why are Acai berries a great alternative?
Acai berries are much easier to find. You may have seen them listed in an exotic smoothie recipe or hiding away on a cocktail menu. But you probably didn’t know about their health boosting credentials.
These tiny, round berries are also rich in anthocyanins. With a similar taste and no-end of exciting uses, they’re the supermarket-ready alternative.
How to include Acai berries in your daily diet
Acai Berry Jam: Make up a big batch of this delicious Acai berry jam and spread it on your toast each morning, or put a dollop in your yoghurt.
- 120ml apple juice
- 2tbsp Naturya Organic Acai powder
- 2tbsp chia seeds
- 2tbsp maple syrup
- 1tbsp lemon juice
Mix the apple juice and chia seeds in a bowl and leave for 30 mins. Then add the Acai berry powder, maple syrup and lemon juice. Leave to sit for another 30 mins before consuming. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and it should last for up to 2 weeks.
Acai Berry Blast Smoothie: This sharp smoothie is sure to give your morning run the kick it needs. Simply grab your blender and mix the following. Leave to chill in the fridge overnight for best results.
- 100g raw, unsweetened açaí pulp, thawed
- 70g frozen pineapple
- 100g strawberry
- 1 banana
- 250ml The Berry Company Acai Berry Juice drink
- 1tbsp honey
What are some other sources of anthocyanins?
Of course, there’s plenty of other ways to get anthocyanins into your diet. If you’re looking to boost your intake, you should also try goji berries, black bean spaghetti products or black and red quinoa.
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