What are Acai Berries?
Berries have become synonymous with health in recent times with berries like the blueberry touted as a genuine superfood. Many berries score very highly on the ORAC scale that measures the antioxidant value of food and the acai berry is definitely no exception.
High antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods like the acai berry are essential for good health. The acai berry is brimming with nutrients and antioxidants such as anthocyanins, procyanidins, proanthocyanidins and protocatechuic acid.
Studies have demonstrated that acai berries have even more antioxidants than other popular berries including blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries and even blueberries.
Acai berries also known by their scientific name -Euterpe oleraceae – are small, purple berries native to South and Central America. They are especially abundant in Brazil and grow in the Amazon forest. These wonderful berries have long been a staple of the local Amazonians. They have been eaten for nutrition and sustenance but have also long been linked to various health benefits from heart health to increased energy and improved metabolic function.
Acai berries are absolutely loaded with nutritional goodness. They are brimming with healthy minerals, vitamins and natural antioxidant compounds including the following:
- Antioxidants such as polyphenols, ellagic acid, anthocyanins and vitamins A and C
- Dietary fibers
- Essential amino acid
- Healthy fats including omega-3, omega- 9 and omega-6 as well as monounsaturated fats and other fatty acids like oleic acid, linoleic acid and palmitic acid.
- Electrolyte minerals like potassium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.
- Other minerals including calcium, iron, zinc and copper.
- Healthy plant sterols such as campsterol, sigmasterol and B-sitosterol
The Health Benefits of Acai Berries
1. Antioxidant Benefits
Perhaps the main reasons that berries like the acai berry are so good for you is their extremely high antioxidant value. These berries score very high on the ORAC sale which measures the antioxidant content of food based on its weight. In fact, acai berries are extremely near the top of that list.
The beautiful deep purple color of acai berries is down to their high content of certain pigments, especially the anthocyanins found in many types of red and purple fruits.
You have probably heard that red grapes and wine are good for you and this is no doubt true. However, according to research, the antioxidant concentration in acai berries is some ten times higher than the levels found in grapes.
Acai berries have become synonymous with their anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects. The reason for this is that the antioxidants found in such high levels in these berries help to slow down or even revers the impact of free radicals or oxidative stress responsible at the heart of many severe illnesses. According to research acai berries are especially effective in scavenging free radicals called peroxyl and superoxide. (1)
As we age, harmful free radicals contribute to our body’s premature decline. They are extremely difficult to avoid since they are present in household chemicals our diets and the environment. Free radicals not only contribute towards disease but they also harm the muscles and bones and cause us to look old before our time.
Because they are so difficult to avoid, it is important that we get as many antioxidants into our system as we can. This can help counteract the damage to our bodies and protect us from disease and untimely signs of aging.
2) Heart Health
Acai berries can help your heart’s heath in a variety of ways. They are natural anti-inflammatory fruit because they contain monounsturated fatty acid. They also contain phytoesterols and dietary fiber known to promote heart health and protect against heart disease. Indeed, several studies have demonstrated that acai berry juice has beneficial effects on blood lipids and help to protect your heart. (2)
Acai is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid which is also found in healthy olive oil. These fats help your body utilize omega-3 oils in order to reduce inflammation and inflammation is at the root of cardiovascular disease.
Another study published in 2011 looked at the effect of acai berries on metabolic syndrome. Overweight patients were given twice daily 100 gram doses of acai for a month. The researchers found that consuming the acai resulted in improved insulin and glucose fasting levels as well as a reduction in overall cholesterol levels. (3)
3) Brain Health
Foods high in antioxidants like acai berry are great for cognitive function including memory and concentration. Oxidative stress as well as inflammation are major contributing factors in many cognitive disorders including serious age related disorders like dementia.
Research indicates that certain compounds found in acai can nourish and protect the brain. These include anthocyanins like cyanidin, malvidin and delphinidin as well as phenolic compounds such as quercetin, catechin, resveratrol and ferulic acid. (3)
Acai berries may also help to switch off the inflammatory pathways which damage the brain’s nerve signals, They may help to stimulate brain function, improve mental clarity and help people to cope with stress.
4) Digestive Health
Being a decent source of fiber, acai can benefit your digestive health but these berries can benefit your digestive system in other ways too. Acai are a great natural way to cleanse the toxins from your system because they help the kidney and liver perform their waste removal functions more efficiently.
They also act help to cleanse the colon naturally meaning they can prevent undigested food and other harmful matter from sticking in the colon. This benefits your digestive system significantly and can help prevent common issues like constipation and stomach upset.
Because they improve your metabolism, these wonderful berries also sped up the rate at which food is expelled as waste. This prevents your food from fermenting inside the intestines and reduces the chance of constipation, bloating and gas.
5) Skin Health
Antioxidants are not only great for your insides but they can also have a dramatic effect on your appearance. Either consuming acai berries or applying them topically can help improve your skin’s overall health, repair damaged skin cells and reverse the signs of aging.
Consuming plenty of these delicious, healthy berries can help you get rid of wrinkles, crow’s feet, dry skin and other blemishes and help you to maintain your young appearance for longer.
6) Weight Loss
Acai berries may help you to control your weight and may be an excellent choice as part of an overall diet plan. There is no scientific research to back up this claim but many experts believe these berries can help suppress your appetite meaning you eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Research suggests that acai can improve general metabolic function helping your body to absorb nutrient and break down food better as well as regulating insulin release. By regulating insulin levels, acai may also curb snack cravings and keep you satiated for longer.
They are no magic cure to your weight problems, but as part of a good overall diet and exercise plan, you may notice some long term results.
7) Eye Health
The antioxidants found in acai berries are also great for the health of your eyes. They can help to preserve your vision especially as you start to age. Acai berries may also help protect against the formation of cataracts and general macular degeneration.\
Have you ever tried acai berries. How do you eat them. Please let us know if you have any good recipes as we would love to add them here.