Throughout Chile there are native fruits with higher antioxidant benefits compared to the traditional berries from the United States and Greece. Under this scenario, products like the maqui, myrtle and calafate berries are national and have functional properties with major health benefits, making Chile a global power when it comes to antioxidants.
The interest in the study of native Chilean fruits follows a global trend that seeks new raw materials with high contents of antioxidants. In this context, the Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos, INTA (Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology) indicates that the calafate, the maqui and the murta, are the berries that concentrate the highest amount of polyphenols, compared to the main berries produced in Chile such as blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry.
The country has native species such as calafate and maqui, fruits with the highest antioxidant power in the entire world.
The study carried out by Fundación Chile and GfK Adimark indicates that incorporating higher value-added products so there is a constant demand of the native berries is needed, which should be attractive and preserve the quality and characteristics of the raw materials. For example, they may be marketed as energy drinks, antioxidants beverage, low calorie dressings, and organic teas, amongst others.
Fundación Chile’s Food and Biotechnology Manager, Andrés Barros, states that “Chile has native fruits of high nutritional power, particularly in antioxidants like calafate and maqui, being both the ones that have the highest antioxidant power in the world. In addition to this, being the leading blueberries exporter and a large wine producer, makes us a world power in availability of antioxidant raw materials, which adding value to this, and developing functional products in this area, is the greatest opportunity. ”
MAQUI (Aristoteliachilensis Mol. Stuntz)
The Maqui comes from a native tree of the Sub-Antarctic forests of Chile and Argentina, which can be found in our country between Limarí and Aysen, both in the central valley and in the Andean foothills, besides also being found in the archipelago of Juan Fernandez. Its fruit is an edible spherical black purplish glossy berry, which has been ancestrally used by the Mapuche people as a natural remedy due to its many health benefits, standing out as a cure for burns, wounds, tumors, throat problems, diarrhea and as an analgesic and antipyretic. It is strongly linked to the Chilean idiosyncrasy, evoking holidays and childhood memories.
The myrtle is a berry that is distributed in Chile from the Maule to the Region of Los Lagos. Considered an exotic and novel fruit, its versatility makes it an interesting fruit for the development of various products ranging from the development of liquors, jams and preserves, to the preparation of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. On the other hand, the myrtle is also notable for its leafs, which have interesting healing, analgesic, anti-aging and antioxidant properties, as well as proven anti-inflammatory properties in animal studies.
CALAFATE (Berberisbuxifolia Lam)
The Calafate is a native berry found in Chile from Curicó to Tierra del Fuego, but mainly located in the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia.
This fruit has many natural properties that many are unaware of. It is considered an excellent natural antioxidant that protects the body from cellular aging due to its high content of polyphenols and flavonoids. It is also a powerful source of minerals and vitamin C. The roots of this species have been used to control fevers and inflammations, stomach pain, indigestion and colitis, and its fruits for its natural pigments. The presence of anthocyanins in the fruit (pigment that gives it its characteristic color) presents interesting opportunities for use as a natural dye.