Acai is a berry original to the Amazon region. When ripe, the berries are dark purple and about the size of a blueberry.
They contain a thin layer of edible pulp surrounding a large seed.
Acai is historically used in Brazil to treat digestive disorders and skin conditions.
Nutritional Compounds in Acai berries:
Acai fruit pulp and skin has been reported to contain: carbohydrates, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, beta-sitosterol procyanidin oligmers, vanillic acid, syringic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, protocatechuic acid, ferulic acid, anthocyanins, carotenoids, phenolic compounds (useful in cosmetic applications), flavonoid-like compounds (homoorientin, orientin, taxifolin, deoxyhexose, isovitexin, scoparin, and proanthocyanidins), and low levels of resveratrol.
There is a remarkable concentration of antioxidants in acai pulp, with 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes, and 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins of red wine. A synergy of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fiber and phytosterols helps promote cardiovascular and digestive health. There is an almost perfect essential amino acid complex in conjunction with valuable trace minerals in acai berries, vital to proper muscle contraction and regeneration.
The fatty acid content in acai resembles that of olive oil, and is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. Oleic acid is important for a number of reasons. It helps omega-3 fish oils penetrate the cell membrane and together they help make cell membranes suppler. By keeping the cell membrane supple, all hormones, neurotransmitters and insulin receptors function more efficiently. This is particularly important because high insulin levels create an inflammatory state, and we know, inflammation causes aging.
Acai has a high ORAC score of 5,500. More amazing, freeze dried Sambazon Acai actually has an ORAC value of over 50,000 per 100 grams.
Acai juice has intermediate antioxidant potency when analyzed against other juices. Juices, found to have higher antioxidant potency than acai, are acerola cherries, mango, strawberry, and grape.
There have been only 13 medical articles written about acai berries that can be found at www.pubmed.gov (US government's depository of all medical studies worldwide).
Research has shown that acai destroys cancer cells in lab (Brazilian berry destroys cancer cells in lab, filed under Agriculture, Health, Research, Sciences on January 12, 2006). These tests are only cell-culture models, and phytochemicals in such fruits as grapes, mangoes, red and black raspberries, strawberries have also demonstrated their ability to kill cancer cells in lab trials.
Experts are uncertain how much effect antioxidants in acai have on cancer cells in the human body, because factors such as nutrient absorption, metabolism and the influence of other biochemical processes may influence the antioxidants’ chemical activity. Also, acai is a highly perishable berry and traditionally used immediately after picking, so the processing factor and long term storage impact the potency of acai as well.
Current marketing efforts by retailers and Internet businesses suggest that acai products can help consumers lose weight, lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, gain energy.
While not all of the acai sellers' claims seem to be based on studies, acai does appear to be a bioactive source of nutrients and antioxidants that are beneficial to the immune system. Based on the nutrient content acai appears to be more beneficial in berry or pulp form than in juice form.
The presence of
glutamic acid (glutamate)
, an essential amino acid and precursor to
, combined with vitamin C, carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoid-like compounds, make it a source for raising glutathione and in turn boosting your immune system, at least short term.
present in acai (like in all dark red and purple fruits) are a natural way of reducing pain resulting from inflammation and COX enzyme irritation. Juice concentrations or dry weight amounts of acai berries to be consumed to relieve pain have not been established.
Note: Allergic reactions to acai have been reported by consumers.
Acai Palm Tree