Having originated from the Amazon region and becoming a Brazillian “superfruit” . Acai berries have recently gained popularity globally and have been praised to be beneficial to health and well-being.
What are Acai Berries?
Acai berries are a round fruit with a dark purple skin and yellow flesh surrounding the seed. It grows on Acai palm trees in the rainforests of Central and South America.
As they contain pits like other fruits such as apricots and olives, they aren't technically called berries but rather a drupe. However, they are commonly referred to as berries. In order to make them edible, the berries are soaked which softens the outer layer skin. They are then mashed to form a dark purple paste.
In the Amazon, they are usually consumed to accompany meals and have an earthy taste, similar to unsweetened chocolate or blackberries.
In general, they are available in the form of a puree, dried powder or pressed juice and are sometimes used to flavor products such as jelly-beans and Ice cream.
So here are 5 health benefits of Acai Berries:
1: They are filled with nutrients
For a fruit, Acai berries have a unique nutritional profile and varied amounts of fat and sugar. Listed below is the nutritional breakdown of the frozen fruit pulp:
- Calcium: 2% of the RDI
- Fat: 5 grams
- Sugar: 2 grams
- Saturated fat: 1.5 grams
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Vitamin A: 15% of the RDI
- Fiber 2 grams
- Calories: 70
The most important nutrient among the others is anthocyanins, it's what gives the Acai berry its deep purple color and acts as an antioxidant for the body. This can also be found in other blue or purple fruits such as black beans and blueberries.
2: They are filled with Antioxidants
Acai berries have a high amount of antioxidants in comparison to other fruits such as berries and cranberries. Its antioxidant activity comes from the various plant compounds in acai, including anthocyanins. Antioxidants play an important role in neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals to the body. If not neutralized, they can damage cells leading to numerous diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
3: They can help improve cholesterol levels
Although it's just a possibility, certain animal studies have shown improved levels of cholesterol by decrease in total and LDL cholesterol. This result can also show similar effects in humans.
As more research needs to be conducted, it’s been observed that the anthocyanins in acai may be responsible for their positive impact on cholesterol.
4: They can have an anti-cancer effect
As there is no possible food cure for cancer, some foods have been known to stop cancer cells from forming. Test tube and Animal studies have revealed such effects from acai pulp. Although more research is required, scientists have concluded that acai could play a role in treating cancer in the future.
5: They could boost brain function
The various plant compounds in acai are beneficial in protecting your brain from damage as you age. Damaging effects such as inflammation and oxidation in brain cells are counteracted by the antioxidants in acai. Such damages negatively affect memory and learning.
The brain stays healthy by removing the old and toxic cells which makes way for new nerves to grow, and enhances the communication between the brain cells. This process is known as autophagy, and works less efficiently as you age. However, recent studies have found that acai extract has helped stimulate this cleansing response in the brain cells.
Due to its high level of antioxidants, acai berries have potential health benefits, as they can be great for your heart, brain and overall health. You can enjoy acai as a smoothie or a bowl, but do watch out for the added sugar in juices and purees.