People love trends and fads, especially when they taste good and they’re healthy. Acai berry, much like other “superfruits” are one of the healthiest and most nutritious purple berries on the planet. Pair that up, with the words, “anti-aging”, and you now have yourself public hysteria. We’re going to discuss some facts and benefits of acai berries, and why this purple powerhouse is Brazil’s most famed superfood.
Acai berries are small, deep, purple-colored berries, which originate from central and south America. They are rich with antioxidants, polyphenols, and most notably anthocyanins which give them their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Let’s get one thing straight. Acai berries, super healthy, acai-bowls… Not so much. Acai bowls are loaded with more than just acai berries. They are topped with bananas, granola, coconut, and other tasty additions. It’s not so much that they are unhealthy per se, it’s merely the fact that they are loaded with sugar. One acai bowl can pack up to 60g of sugar, which is a lot for anyone.
The reason why so many fruits, are labeled as “superfruits” much like Acai berry, is due to the fact, that they are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to protect cells from damage, aka oxidative stress. By reducing free radicals and oxidative stress, studies suggest you reduce your risk of chronic disease, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.
Acai berries however, are rich in so much more than just antioxidants. Half a cup or 100g serving of acai puree, provides 60 calories, 1.4g of protein, 18g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Although not particularly rich in any one micronutrient, they do have other elements such as Vitamin C, calcium, chromium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
One interesting benefit, that studies have revealed is that acai juice, may benefit range of motion and reduce pain in patients experiencing osteoarthritis. A study published in the Journal Of Medicinal Foods, found that drinking 120ml of acai fruit juice for a duration of 12 weeks, resulted in significant pain reduction, improved ROM measures, and improvement in daily activity [R].
Pain can have an impact on the mobility of joints, building inflammation and impairing movement. Given the combined antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of acai it does seem to produce a significant analgesic effect to better improve mobility.
People who are overweight, particularly those with excess central adipose tissue, are at greater risk of developing dysfunctions in lipid and glucose metabolism resulting in a propensity for cardiovascular disease and/or type-2 diabetes.
Studies have found that adding some acai to your daily regimen, may in fact improve and balance blood sugar, as well as total cholesterol.
Increasing insulin sensitivity with natural remedies could provide a profound impact upon diabetes cases. And oxidative stress is thought to be one of the underlying mechanisms behind the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes associated with obesity.
A pilot study published in Nutrition Journal found that consuming 100g of acai pulp twice per day, for 30 days, saw reductions in fasting glucose and insulin levels. There was also a reduction in total cholesterol with significant reductions in low density lipoproteins (LDL) [R].
Research suggests that antioxidants and polyphenols can help reduce the risks of age related disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Acai contains a polyphenol called anthocyanin, Anthocyanins belong to a flavonoid family, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and are primarily responsible for the many health benefits associated with acai and other red pigmented fruit, such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and pomegranate.
Studies haves shown that anthocyanins can reduce inflammation, improving cognitive function and memory in age related decline [R].
Research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds may lower the risk of age related disease like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and brain disease. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables can provide the micronutrients and bioactive compounds your body needs to improve quality of life and wellness. If you’re going to add some acai to your diet, then grab it in powder, puree, or juice form. Since they are imported, Acai can spoil quickly, and rare to find fresh in the US.