What is Acai Berry?
Euterpe oleracea palm trees produce acai berries. This berry is widely claimed to be a natural superfood, and there is no doubt that it offers an excellent nutritional profile. Acai berry supplements are proposed to benefit for arthritis, high cholesterol, obesity, erectile dysfunction (ED) and more.
The berries from acai palms have concentrated amounts of antioxidant compounds, heart healthy fats and fiber. It is also a great source of anthocyanins, plant sterols and polyphenolic compounds.
While some preliminary evidence suggests that acai berry supplements can benefit metabolic syndrome and weight loss, there has not been enough evidence and human research to meet its efficacy rate for these conditions.
Acai Plant Description
According to the Rainforest Alliance, Acai berry (Euterpe oleracea) is found in the northern region of South America, and most of Central America.
It grows in shady rainforest, reaching a height of over 100 feet. Its tree is slender, tall and develops multiple stems. Acai berry measures about 0.5 inch in diameter. When they first emerge, they turn green, but then dark purple as they ripe between July and December.
An average mature acai palm tree produces between 4 to 8 bunch of berries per year; weighing approx. 13 pounds each. But, according to health experts, only about 15% end up being edible.
Unlike of most fruits, these berries are low in sugar and acid, so they must be picked, flash—pasteurized, and quickly taken out of the frozen Amazon. If left unprocessed, they will oxidize, turn brown, and may lose its nutritional value.
Acai Berries Nutrition
Per 100 gram serving of fresh acai berries contain —
- 70 calories
- 5 gram fat
- 20 mg calcium
- 1 gram protein
- 1 gram dietary fiber
- 750 IU vitamin A
- 4 gram carbohydrates
- 10 mg sodium
Acai Berry Uses
Acai berries have a long history of medicinal and culinary use. They remain a staple for people in the Amazon; often being mixed in oatmeal with manioc, a starchy root vegetable.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) states that oral acai berry supplements are used for —
- Hypercholesterolemia (high serum cholesterol)
- Improve general health
- Erectile dysfunction
- Metabolic syndrome
- Aging skin
- Weight loss and obesity
It can be consumed as raw or juiced. Acai berry juice is also included in the ice cream, wine and jelly.
According to Mayo Clinic, acai berries may contain more antioxidant compounds than any other commonly—eaten berries such as blueberries, strawberries and cranberries. However, because scientific research on acai has been limited in the past, this statement has yet to be confirmed.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) revealed that acai berry contains high amounts of anthocyanins, which are the polyphenols that produce dark purple color of fruits. Anthocyanins helps to contribute to the antioxidant activities proposed by this supplement. Three major anthocyanins found in acai berries; including —
- Cyanidin 3—glucoside
- Cyanidin 3—diglucoside
- Cyanidin 3—rutoside
Research has shown that the Brazilian acai berries contain more of these healthful anthocyanins than the acai berries grown in the America.
What are The Health Benefits of Acai Berries?
Acai berry health benefits may include —
1. Rich in Antioxidants:
The antioxidant activity of acai polyphenols can be attributed to conjugate forms—glucuronate, sulfonate, aglycone, and methylate.
In addition to anthocyanin content, acai berries are also rich in flavonoid—like compounds called proanthocyanidins. Some of these may include — taxifolin deoxyhexose, homoorientin, orientin, isovitexin and scoparin.
Acai berry also contain a small amount of phenolic acid called protocatechuic acid, and a polyphenol called epicatechin. Apart from this, it is also a natural source of a class of hydrolyzable tannins called ellagitannins which are believed to contribute to the antagonistic effect.
According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, other acai berry ingredient include urticaria, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, ellagic acid, (+) – catechin, protocatechuic acid, ferulic acid, vanillic acid, p—coumaric acid, cyanidin and pelargonidin 3—glucoside.
2. Detoxifies Your Body:
Free radicals harm our bodies in many ways. Acai berries are rich in many healthful antioxidants as compared to other plant—based foods. They help your body to repair oxidative damage caused by these free radicals. Also, the antioxidants present in acai berry work to prevent the growth of harmful organisms and flush out contaminants which may increase the risk of many cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
3. Protect Against Heart Disease And Diabetes:
Many scientific studies revealed that acai berries are very high in polyphenols that promote overall heart health. A 2014 study on mice subjected to myocardial infarction stated that these berries significantly helped in the treatment of heart—related ailments such as cardiac hypertrophy, cardiac dysfunction or fibrosis.
An another research (California) states that the consumption of acai berry may significantly reduce the problem of diabetes. In this study, acai berry fruit pulp was given to over—weight people for about 30 days. A significant reduction in the insulin, blood sugar and cholesterol levels was observed in the body of these people.
4. In Digestion:
Acai berry help to flushes—out bad toxins from the body and work to strengthen your digestion. And, as we have previously discussed that acai berry is a good source of fiber. It may also help in this regard. It may improve digestion, helps to absorb nutrients and also prevents constipation.
5. Fight Against Cancer:
Consuming acai berries on regular basis may help to reduce the risk of several types of cancers; specially colon and breast cancer. A 2014 study states that acai berries contain many anti—cancer properties, which may help to prevent cancer cells from growing.
An another study held in Texas stated that berries contains cytotoxic and anti—inflammatory properties that effectively help to fight against colon cancer.
6. Promote Weight Loss:
7. May Increase Energy Levels:
Acai berries are rich in protein, carbs and good fats. All these nutrients may help to keep your stamina and energy levels high. Acai berries are commonly known as “AMAZON RAINFOREST VIAGRA”, as they help to increase libido and enhance sexual health.
Acai berries also help to boost blood circulation in genital area and potentially promote energy levels. However, more research are needed in this regard.
8. May Improve Cellular Health:
The antioxidant properties of acai berries (Euterpe oleracea) help to increase the efficiency of cells in absorbing nutrients.
9. Boost Immunity:
One of the best health benefits of acai berries is their ability to strengthen the immune system. The antioxidants present in these berries fight against free radicals and protect your body from several infection and diseases.
A 2011 scientific study stated that acai berry has the potential to treat asthma and infectious diseases.
10. May Help Heal Wounds:
Acai berries contain anti—inflammatory and wound—healing properties. A scientific study in 2017 stated that a scratch wound healed rapidly after 24—hours of using acai berry water extracts.
11. Improve Sleep:
Acai berries may help to promote better sleep. Consumption of one—fourth cup of acai berry juice before bed may improve sleep quality. However, more scientific research are needed in this regard.
12. For Skin:
Acai berries are rich in many essential nutrients, antioxidant, vitamins and minerals that may enhance beauty and skin health. The antioxidant found in these berries fight against free radicals and help to delay the signs of aging. For this reason, it makes it a perfect ingredient for anti—aging creams. It also helps to treat hyperpigmentation.
Evidence also suggests that they may also help to lighten acne scars. For this, crush a few acai berries with a fresh ripe avocado. Apply this mask to your face. Leave it on for about 10 to 15 minutes, then wash it off.
Its anti—inflammatory properties may also help in controlling acne. These berries can also help to repair damage and replenish the lost moisture of the skin. However, more research are needed in this regard.
13. For Hair:
Acai berries (Euterpe oleracea) contain healthful nutrients that may help to make your hair stronger, shinier and softer. These nutrients promote scalp health as well as work to prevent hair loss.
Acai berries also contain zinc and folic acid in plenty. Zinc promotes scalp health and potentially work to prevent hair fall. Disturbances present in zinc metabolism were found to reduce hair loss. Its folic acid contents help to improve blood circulation in the scalp. Some scientific research also state that folic acid deficiency may lead to hair loss. It helps to contribute in hair growth and prevent graying of hair.
How to Use Acai Berries?
Acai berries can be consumed raw or used in any of the following ways; including —
- Blend acai berries with milk to make a healthy and delicious smoothie or shake.
- Several cosmetic products use these berries as their main ingredient. You can apply them to your skin to take the benefits.
- If fresh acai berries aren’t available in your city or country, you can also go for acai berry supplements such as tablet or capsules.
- Crush acai berries into a juice and top them with hemp or chia seeds for an added boost.
Acai Berry Supplements
Acai berry supplements are available in many forms including capsules, pills, powder, energy drink, smoothie and whole berry form. Acai is also contained in various functional food products.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) states that there are about 500 different supplements that hold acai berry extract.
Here, it is advisable to choose acai berry supplements carefully among non—GMO, organic and certified-safe products from well—established manufacturers. These supplements should be kept dry and cooled in an airtight container.
Acai Berry Supplement Dosage
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database reports the following oral doses for adults that have been used in some studies —
- For general health: Take 12 ounces of water in 1 ounce acai powder, once or twice daily.
- For general health: Take 1 to 2 grams of freeze—dried acai berry capsules daily.
- For metabolic syndrome: Consume 100 gram of frozen acai berry pulp, 2 time for 30 days.
However, there is no clear evidence available for recommended dosage of acai berry in children. Ask your doctor or health care provider before using these supplements.
Acai Berry Side-Effects
Although, moderate intake of acai berry is likely safe. But, if you are allergic to acai or other berries, take cautious or avoid consumption altogether. Over—consumption may cause many health side effects such as diarrhea, headaches, irritation in the intestinal tract and reduced vision.
A report has stated that using a specific acai product for about a month do not cause any adverse side effects. No toxic effects were observed in the animal laboratory with doses as high as 2000 mg/kilogram body weight.
A study doesn’t report any interaction between acai berry and herbs, foods, supplements or prescription drugs.
Acai berries are nutrient—rich fruit containing anti—tumor, anti—diabetic and anti—aging properties. They are loaded with healthful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that may help to lower cholesterol, promote hair growth and improve skin texture. Studies reveal that acai berries also may help in weight loss, boost immunity and protect against cardiovascular diseases.
Include them into your daily diet to reap their health advantages. Avoid taking acai berry supplements if you’re underweight or have pollen allergies. Consult a doctor and nutritionist before including acai berries in your diet.
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