The Truth About Acai Berry Benefits – A Full Explanation
If you want to reduce aging, lose weight, and help to prevent cancer and disease then either you should look towards including acai (pronounced "ah-sigh-ee") berries in your diet. Touting an impressive array of benefits, some might see this "power berry" as too good to be true. This article will delve into the claimed benefits of the Amazonian fruit, and will clearly explain the science surrounding them.
The Controversial Benefit
High in antioxidants – Does the Acai Berry contain more antioxidants than any other food?
Dr. Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist, author of several diet and health books and frequent guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", has called the acai berry one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world. He gave the berry this honor because of its high level of antioxidants – 10 times more than you'll get from red grapes.
Light Science: Antioxidant is a word most people associate with the concept of "very healthy", although many may not know why. The prefix "anti" means "in opposition to" and "oxidants" are substances that come from oxygen. Lots of our bodily processes require oxygen, explaining why breathing is important. It sees ironic that the stuff that keeps us alive also slowly kills us. Rust is a form of oxidation, where water reacts with iron. In the same sense oxidation inside the body causes a breakdown of cells, which results in free radicals attacking our healthy cells and increasing chances of attack disease and cancers, as well as speeding up the aging process. Antioxidants stop the free radicals by bonding with them, and making them harmless. As we age, our energy metabolism loses efficiencies and free radicals more likely to destroy cellular compounds and damage proteins, lipids, and DNA, and lead to cell death – especially in the brain which generates more oxidative by products than other organs of the body. Yes, antioxidants are definitely "very healthy".
Where does the acai berry stand in relation to its competitors?
Light Science: ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and it has been found that:
· The USDA recommends that we consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily
· A banana has and ORAC score of 221 / 100g
· Apples – 218 / 100g
· Blueberries have a whopping 2,500 / 100g
Now … wait for it
· Acai berries scored 5,500 / 100g!
So does the acai berry contain more antioxidants than any other food? This is perhaps not the right question to ask. Some foods may have large amounts of antioxidants, however "a big factor in all of this is what happens in the digestion and absorption process," says Researcher Ronald Prior, PhD, a chemist and nutritionist with the USDA's Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock , Ark. "With some of these compounds, it appears that even though they have a high antioxidant capacity, they may not be absorbed." –
A list of the foods showing the highest antioxidant capacity actually has a small red bean at the top of the list. Wild blueberries come second, followed by kidney beans. Acai berries strength comes in the fact that its antioxidants can enter human body cells in fully functional form (although tests providing this were in vitro – in artificial environments as opposed to in vivo – in a living organism). The truth is that not a lot of research on acai berries has been performed in vivo, however the signs are positive; it is likely once proper testing have been done they will prove what doctors such as Nicholas Perricone have been saying; the acai berry is a superfood.
The less controversial benefits
Half the berry pulp is fats, which may at first put people off as fat is associated with being fat. This is an unfortunate misconception: (following data was collected from here)
– In the 1960s, Americans ate 45% of their calories from fat – and only 13% of us were obese. Now, while most of us get only about 33% of our calories from fat, 34% of us qualify as obese!
– The 2006 Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial showed that women on low-fat diets did not lose any more weight than women who followed their usual diets.
– Brain – Fats compose 60% of the brain and are essential to brain function, including learning abilities, memory retention and moods. Fats are especially important for pregnant women, since they are integral to fetal brain development.
– Cells – Fatty acids help your cells stay movable and flexible, as well as being responsible for building cell membranes
– Heart – 60% of our heart's energy comes from burning fats. Specific fats are also used to help keep the heart beating in a regular rhythm.
Click the link above for a detailed informative page on fats. A basic summary to remember is: Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats are the good ones that are found in vegetables and nuts. Saturated fat is the white stuff in meats, and is bad. Finally trans fat is the worst; This is found in your average baked goods such as muffins and cookies, and in fried foods such as donuts and French fries.
In the polyunsaturated fat family lies the now well know Omega-3 group of fatty acids. Omega-3 has found to help prevent cardiovascular disease, liver cancer, depression and dementia. 73% of the fats from the acai berry are the unhealthy fats, including omega-3, 6 and 9.
Rich in amino acids and protein
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. About 50% of the dry mass of our body is made up of protein; and it affects the maintenance, growth and reparation of body tissue. A lack of protein causes the muscles to break down, which is bad if you're trying to lose weight. If you do not eat enough protein your muscles will slowly erode. However if you attempt to eat too much protein (think body builders) this will not make your muscles build faster; your body will take all that is needed and the rest is excreted in urine. Acai berries contain 8g of protein per 100g, which is a very good amount.
Good source of minerals and vitamins and fiber
The acai berry could be compared to a supplement pill, but is more natural. The berries contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E, as well as the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc.
Fine amount of plant sterols
Sterols are the new weapon in the fight against heart disease. Sterols are lipids (fats) that lower cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels mean you are more likely to get heart disease, and by lowering your levels by just 10% can reduce your risk of heart disease by 25%. Plant sterols are found in small amounts in nuts, seeds and vegetable, and now in the acai berry.
Acai berries will gradually sweep across the globe as one of the healthiest things you can eat. It apparently really does stop aging, reduce weight loss, and prevent cancer and disease. It's extremely high ORAC scores are not fully understood; with scientists concluding there must be some unknown and very powerful antioxidants within. On a final note, it is said that the berries have an after taste of chocolate. If there was ever a food for the gods, this would be it.