Why Everyone Loves Acai (ah-sigh-ee)
It may be “The Superfood” everyone is raving about, but do you know why?
Acai berries have been eaten by tribes of the Amazon Jungle for thousands of years. The berries come from a type of palm tree, which grows over a height of 15 meters and produces these wonderful dark purple berries.
In Brazil, the Acai Berry has been nicknamed the “Beauty Berry” as it has so many compounds that make the body feel and look better from the inside out. Acai Berries contain, a combination of antioxidants, amino acids and omega fatty acids. These properties have been scientifically shown to help slow the aging process, boost immune and metabolic function and protect the body from free radical damage.
Acai has been tested to contain one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any other fruit and vegetable sources, rivaled only by other super-fruits such as the Goji Berry. The human plasma antioxidant capacity has in fact been found to be three times higher after consuming Acai (Mertens-Talcott et al. 2008). Acai is still in the early stages of investigation, and its complexity and possible health promoting effects are only just starting to be realised, as even scientists acknowledge, there are still 50-75 constituents (active properties) unidentified in this super-fruit.
When comparing the Antioxidant capacity (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of Acai powder to other antioxidant rich fruits, it’s easy to see why Acai is considered a powerhouse, with its ORAC results showing it to be 7 times more powerful than Cranberries, Blueberries and Strawberries, and they aren’t low by any means in the terms of their antioxidant capacity.
Not only are Acai berries high in antioxidants like anthocyanin’s, they have also been found to be a good source of medium chain fatty acids, like oleic acid (omega 9), linoleic acid (omega 6), dietary fibre, minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium, and vitamins A, C, K and B-complex (B1, B2, B3 and B6) (Schauss et al. 2006).
It’s clear the full potential of the humble Acai berry is certainly undefined at this stage, but as more and more studies are carried out, we are sure to be expanding our list of reasons why it is the perfect berry for you. Its traditional uses have always been there, and now it’s just up to science to catch up and prove them.
Mertens-Talcott, S, Rios, J, Jilma-Stohlawetz, P, Pacheco-Palencia, L, Meibohm, B, Talcott, S & Derendorf, H 2008, ‘Pharmacokinetics of Anthocyanins and Antioxidant Effects after the Consumption of Anthocyanin-Rich Açai Juice and Pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in Human Healthy Volunteers’, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 56, no. 17, pp. 7796-7802, viewed 10 March 2014, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf8007037
Schauss, A, Wu, X, Prior, R, Ou, B, Patel, D, Huang, D, Kababick, J 2006, ‘Phytochemical and nutrient composition of the freeze-dried amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (acai)’, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 54, no. 22, pp. 8598-8603, viewed 10 March 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17061839