Dare To Be Healthy

Posts Tagged ‘Açaí palm

I have heard so much about Acai Berry and the potential health benefits it has. I have not tried it out yet but it seems everyone is in on it and wants to try and know more about it. So, are the health benefit claims of Acai berry worth the paper they are written on? We all know the health benefits of fruits within the “berry” family are huge – high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals with blueberries making the top of the list due to its high antioxidant content. Let’s go ahead and find out more about Acai Berry. 

Acai berry is found in abundance in the Amazon region, and is grown on the acai palm tree which has provided food for the people of Brazil for centuries and grows 15 metres in height. The healing properties were discovered by the Brazilians centuries ago, when they realised it boosted their energy when consumed regularly. The acai berry is dark purple when ripe and is the shape and size of blueberries. Acai berries have to be harvested and properly processed before they can be eaten.

The fruit grew in popularity in the 1970s and 80s’ among many athletes like surfers and football players. Known as the “beauty berry” by the Brazilians, they have used it for years to treat skin conditions and digestive disorders.

Because of their short lifespan of just under 24 hours after harvesting, the berries are blended or dried and used in different forms like juices, supplements or in granola bars. Research over the years has discovered that this little berry has a nutritional impact on the body by providing antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals. The acai berry has been named one of the top superfoods in the world because of its high antioxidant content.

The acai berry is known mostly within the health food industry. As more research is being done, the fruit is making its way into pharmaceutical companies as well.  The Acai tree is also found in Panama and Trinidad where it grows in huge bunches like bananas, and each tree can grow up to eight bunches. Since it’s surrounded by very little pulp, it requires large amounts of the berries to be harvested to produce juices. Due to the berry’s benefits to health and weight loss, many manufacturers are using just the extract from the fruit to make diet pills and vitamin supplements. Although the fruit can be harvested regularly, its popularity has caused many producers to restrict the amount they put into the products. This is why the pure acai juice which contains 100% acai berry will be a bit more expensive than others that have lower acai content. I suggest you spend that little extra to get the benefits you want out of it, it’s worth it!

So let’s look at the benefits that acai berry is purported to have:

v  Increased energy

v  Weight loss

v  Better digestion

v  Improved sleep

v  Improved immune system

v  Healthier skin

v  Slows aging

v  Detoxes the body

v  Improves heart health

With all these benefits, especially the weight loss benefit, no wonder the whole planet is going crazy for this fruit. So how does this tiny fruit provide all these benefits? Here’s a look at some of the research done in the last few years.

Here’s some research information:

The acai berry has apparently been studied since the 1930s but people have only recently started paying attention and looking into its health benefits. Recent studies have been able to provide more information about the benefits the fruit has to offer but research is of course still going on. The acai berry is full of essential nutrients which prove to have a positive effect on the body.

The nutrients found in acai berry include B-vitamins, vitamins C, D and E, calcium, manganese, boron and folate, and huge amounts of antioxidants.

Acai berries have a high antioxidant ranking, but apparently, this is true when certain drying techniques are used to capture the effectiveness of the berry before using them in supplements and other commercial products. According to research carried out by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, freeze drying the acai pulp is the most efficient way to harness its antioxidant powers.

A study conducted by Dr Stephen Talcott at the university of Florida, found extracts from acai berries were “able to trigger a self-destruct response in as many as 86 of all leukaemia cancer cells”. These berries are now supposedly capable of slowing down the growth of cancer cells according to current and on-going research. According to the study carried out by the University of Florida, there are 50-75 active natural compounds in acai that have yet to be identified.

Talcott, however, states that compounds that show good activity on cancer cells in a model system can most likely have beneficial effects in humans. Some of the results of laboratory studies show the following:

v  Acai berry has about the same amount of protein as an egg

v  100g of acai berry is equal to 14g of fibre

v  100g is also equal to 1000IU of vitamin A

v  Acai berry has a low glycemic index (GI)

v  Acai is high in carbohydrates

v  Contains 8g of protein per 100g

Along with the powerhouse antioxidants in acai berry, the berry also contains anthocyanin. Acai has 20 to 30 times more anthocyanin per volume than that found in other fruits and red wine. There are 16 identified antioxidants and phyto-nutrients found in acai berries. Acai berry’s ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is identified as having the highest scalable antioxidant value of any known berry at a level of over 3500.

So here are the reasons why acai is good for your health:

v  The fatty acids and phytosterols found in acai help breakdown bad cholesterol and promote good cholesterol. It is necessary to keep cholesterol down to maintain a healthy heart and fight against heart disease

v  Acai contains Omega Fatty acids that our bodies cannot produce but need for healthy growth and brain development

v  Acai berries contain high levels of antioxidants and anthocyanin which are the same chemical compounds that help in fighting disease and clearing toxins from the body. They also help boost the immune system.

v  The antioxidants aid the treatment of skin problems by absorbing the oxidants and free radicals that cause skin and other health problems

v  The high fibre and fatty acids in acai berry protects the stomach lining to ensure nutrients are absorbed properly. This helps the digestive process and can help with weight loss.

So there you go folks, acai berry does have genuine health benefits but I would add that this should be one of the things added as part of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t think that by just drinking the juice or taking the supplements or whatever form you choose to ingest acai berry, that you’re covered and don’t need to do anything else – it unfortunately doesn’t work that way. You still have to include all other food groups into your diet, fruits, vegetable, grains, lots of water, as well as exercise. You’ve got to put in the work to get the results you want!

A word of warning though, whatever form you choose to take acai berry, whether it is juice, supplements or otherwise, always check the label before you buy the product. Make sure the acai content is high, preferably 100%. Also, if you’re buying supplements off the internet, do some research into the companies first before you purchase their products. Sadly, there are a lot of unscrupulous companies online that sell products that do not contain acai berry or have a very low acai content mixed with other chemicals – my advice would be to get acai berry from any health food store like WholeFoods, you’re more likely to get good quality, high acai content products. That’s the only place I get mine from. So please be careful out there and enjoy the health benefits of acai berry.

Peace, love and fabulous health!

References

University of Florida study: http://news.ufl.edu/2006/01/12/berries/

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