We have been seeing a lot about the amazing effects of the worlds so called No 1 Superfood, the Acai Berry recently. It’s been featured on Oprah, The Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, and numerous health and fitness magazines. Is it the latest fad or is it the greatest thing since sliced bread?
Is it indeed the one ingredient that every diet should contain?
We decided to do some research to see what all the fuss was about and bring it to you so you can make up your own mind.
The acai berry (acai is pronounced “ah-sigh-ee”) is an inch-long purple/red fruit. It comes from the acai palm tree, Euterpe oleracea, (it’s scientific name) and is native to Central and South America. It is a relative of the blueberry, cranberry, and other dark purple fruits. Acai is naturally low in sugar, and the flavor has been described as a mixture of red wine and chocolate. Who wouldn’t want to give it a try?
The juice and pulp of acai fruits are used in various juice blends, smoothies and sodas. In northern Brazil, acai is traditionally served in gourds called “cuias” with tapioca and sometimes sugar. Acai has become a fad in southern Brazil where it is consumed cold as açaínatigela (“acai in the bowl”), mostly mixed with granola. Acai is also widely consumed in Brazil as an ice cream flavor or juice. It is considered to be an energizer.
As acai deteriorates rapidly after harvest, its raw material is generally only available outside the immediate growing region as acai juice or acai fruit pulp that has been frozen, dried acai, or freeze-dried. However, several companies now manufacture acai juices, other health drinks, and sorbets made from acai berries, often in combination with other fruits.
In a study of three traditional Caboclo populations in the Amazon region of Brazil, acai palm was described as the most important plant species because the acai fruit makes up such a major component of diet (up to 42% of the total food intake by weight) and is economically valuable in the region (Murrieta et al., 1999).
In October 2008, a study carried out by a team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists and published in an issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the Acai Berry has proven its ability to be absorbed in the human body when consumed both as juice and pulp – it also helps freezing fat cells. Researchers on the team, Dr Susanne Talcott and her co-researcher Dr. Steve Talcott actually began studying the acai berry in 2001.
Initially, their studies on the berry examined antioxidant and nutritional components in pulp and juice. Later studies showed the berry’s activity against cancer cells.
DrPerricone recently listed the Acai Berry as number 1 on his list of the top 10 superfoods in the world.
While additional research is needed, pilot studies suggest that in otherwise healthy, overweight adults, daily consumption of pure organic sugar free acai reduces cholesterol significantly and several markers of metabolic syndrome associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke,” said Jack F. Bukowski, MD, Ph.D., a former Harvard professor and currently Director of the Nutritional Science Research Institute.
It is now claimed that the Acai Berry is an effective agent in weight loss, increased energy and better digestion. In addition, the Acai Berry promotes better sleep, a stronger immune system, improved circulation and has detoxification benefits.
Acai is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Acai contains several substances called anthocyanins and flavonoids.
The word anthocyanin comes from two Greek words meaning “plant” and “blue.” Anthocyanins are responsible for the red, blue and purple colorings of many fruits and vegetables. Foods that are richest in anthocyanins — such as blueberries, red grapes, red wine, and acai — are very strongly colored, ranging from deep purple to black.
Anthocyanins and flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help defend the body against life’s stressors. They also play a role in the body’s cell protection system. Free radicals are harmful byproducts produced by the body. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants may interfere with aging and the disease process by neutralizing free radicals.
The Acai Berry does play an important role in weight loss. It can aid weight loss by suppressing your appetite, speeding up your metabolism and aiding in the burning of calories.
Like every other dietary supplement, the Acai Berry is not a diet. It is an important part of a healthy weight loss diet and, as you know, every diet needs effort and commitment on your part. As we always say, at the end of the day, losing weight is all about diet and exercise.
Our recommendation? Acai Berry should be a key ingredient in your diet.