Health is one of the things money can’t buy. You can buy better food and a lovely house, but you can’t exchange wealth for better health. Thus, maintaining good health throughout life is something we must all give some thought to. The most important thing each of us can do to improve our health is to eat a healthy diet, but what if you’re unsure where to start? Why don’t you start by adding berries to your diet?
Acai berries are a great source of nutrients and antioxidants that most people could benefit from. Not only will adding these fruits to your diet ensure that you get nutrients that your body needs. They also contain vitamin A, calcium, and an astonishingly high amount of antioxidants.
So without further ado, let’s look at what acai berries are, what they can do for your health and ways you can incorporate them into your diet.
- What are Acai Berries?
- Health Benefits of Acai Berries
- How to maximize the benefits of acai berries
What are Acai Berries?
Acai is a small fruit that comes from the acai palm tree, indigenous to the Amazon rainforest. Acai berries are small, round, deep-purple fruit of oval shape similar in appearance to grapes and measuring approximately 2.5cm in length. They taste like a cross between unsweetened chocolate and blackberries. Yum, right?
Acai berries have a very short shelf-life; therefore, they are often sold as frozen pulp, juice, or dried powder. In the Amazon rainforest, the indigenous population enjoys them in various ways, including eating them fresh, juicing them, and even turning them into wine.
What’s more, acai berries are rich in oleic, palmitic and linoleic fatty acids, making them a great source of acai oil, a near-elixir for any dull complexion. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action makes it a sought-after ingredient in anti-ageing skincare formulations. To learn more about acai oil and its various skin benefits, click here.
Health Benefits of Acai Berries
There are many health benefits to including acai berries into your diet, some of which include:
They are nutrient-dense
It’s no secret that acai berries are a healthy and nutritious fruit. High in fat and low in sugar, 100g of frozen fruit pulp will provide you with about 70 calories, 5g of fat, 2g of sugar, 2g of dietary fibre, 15% of the RDI of vitamin A (1), but also traces of minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium (2).
However, acai’s most potent benefits come from plant compounds, notably anthocyanins (water-soluble pigments that give acai berries their deep purple colour). Naturally antioxidant anthocyanins can neutralize oxidative damage (3) caused by environmental stressors such as pollution, protecting you from many diseases.
Strengthen the immune system
Many people consume acai berries to strengthen their immune systems. The antioxidant-rich fruit fights free radicals and protects the body from several diseases. According to a 2011 study (4), the immune response of acai berries could treat various infectious diseases and asthma.
Can improve memory
Most plant-based foods, like fruit, vegetables and whole grains, contain polyphenols, which have been shown to improve memory (5).
Acai berries are particularly rich in polyphenols, potent antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are both associated with numerous neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s (6).
Look after your heart
Acai berries have been part of the indigenous Amazonian population for thousands of years, and a good reason too. Abundant in antioxidants, fibre and healthy fatty acids, they play a significant role in supporting a healthy heart.
Antioxidants provide one of the best defences against free radicals, which are oxygen molecules that can cause damage to your cells. According to a Harward study (7), regularly consuming acai berries can lower the risk of a heart attack in middle-aged and young women by 32%, thus extending your lifespan.
Fibre and healthy fatty acids also play a crucial part in protecting your heart. Whereas healthy fatty acids increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL), fibre can also help reduce LDL cholesterol, hence reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease (8.
May have anti-cancer effect
Anthocyanins are a highly potent class of antioxidants, which may help fight off cancer. Although the exact mechanism of how these compounds work is unclear, laboratory studies indicate that anthocyanins:
– act as antioxidants
– activate detoxifying enzymes
– prevent cancer cell proliferation
– induce cancer cell death
– have anti-inflammatory effects
– have antiangiogenesis effects (i.e., they inhibit the formation of new blood vessels that encourage tumour growth)
– prevent cancer cell invasion
-induce differentiation (9)
While certain foods may not prevent cancer from occurring, some are known to stop it from spreading. Acai berries are one such food. Studies in mice have revealed acai’s protective effect against colon cancer (10).
However, more extensive studies are needed to confirm these results.
Might delay premature ageing
Acai berries are a rich source of antioxidants, which may help delay premature ageing by improving the health of your skin. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals that damage cells, preventing premature ageing and wrinkling. The high amount of antioxidants and healthy fats they contain can help keep your skin smooth and healthy.
How to maximize the benefits of acai berries
Rich in antioxidants, acai berries are a great way to keep your body running at its best. The easiest way to benefit from acai berries is by regularly consuming them as a snack or incorporating them into your meals in the form of purées, powders and juices.
Like many other berries, acai is rich in fibre and antioxidants, making them some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can add to your diet. Antioxidants are one of the best defences against free radicals, oxygen molecules that can damage your cells. That’s why antioxidants are so important in maintaining optimum health and why you should add them to your diet.
Why should you add acai berries to your diet?
They are high in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B12, and C, which may help support your immune system. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants and fibre, which are both associated with lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. And they are filled with healthy fatty acids and plant compounds, like anthocyanins, which may help fight off cancer and improve your memory.
Are acai berries superfood?
Like other berries, acai berries are abundant in antioxidants, healthy fatty acids and fibre. Therefore, they should be a part of our diet. However, I wouldn’t single them out among other berries as a superfood. You find anthocyanins also in blueberries, strawberries, black currants, blackberries, and cranberries.
- Pure Acai Berry Unsweetened Nutritional Facts & Calories
- Characterization of the acai or manaca (Euterpe oleracea Mart.): a fruit of the Amazon
- In Vitro and in Vivo Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Capacities of an Antioxidant-Rich Fruit and Berry Juice Blend. Results of a Pilot and Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study
- Polysaccharides Isolated from Açaí Fruit Induce Innate Immune Responses
- The Effect of Acai (Euterpe spp.) Fruit Pulp on Brain Health and Performance
- Anthocyanins Potentially Contribute to Defense against Alzheimer’s Disease
- Harvard Study Shows Heart Health Benefits for Young Women
- Fibre, Lipids, and Coronary Heart Disease
- Anthocyanins and their role in cancer prevention
- Açaí Berries Inhibit Colon Tumorigenesis in Azoxymethane/Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Treated Mice