The acai berry is newly hailed as a superfood. It has become one of the most popular ingredients in diet supplements and even in make-up. Does the acai berry deserve all of the hype associated with it?
The acai berry is produced by the acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea). This palm tree is natively grown in both Central and South America. The berry itself is about an inch in size, and red-purple. It’s related to darker colored berries, such as the blueberry.
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce free radicals (unstable molecules) in the body. Eliminating free radicals may help slow the aging process by lowering the risk of degenerative ailments and may help lowerthe risk diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Acai berries are high in antioxidants, as are blueberries, cranberries, and other darkly colored fruits and vegetables.
No studies have actually proven the benefit of acai berries in dieting. Fruit, including acai berries, however, are an important part of a healthy diet and weight loss program. The berry is high in nutrition. and contains vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C and E, as well as calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They also contain fiber, amino acids, and protein. Three quarters of the fat in the acai are unsaturated omega fats such as Omega 3, 6 and 9.
Acai oil is beginning to show up in cosmetics due to it’s antioxidant properties. Anti-aging creams, lotions, and various soaps and shampoos include the oil as an alternative to tropical oils. Processing does not eliminate the antioxidants in the berry. Flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) help skin stay clear and healthy. Phytonutrients (organic compounds found in plants) have been found to nourish skin and help retain collagen.
Nutritionists recommend eating foods high in antioxidants rather than taking supplements as a diet aid. Supplements containing acai berries do have potential side effects. Some of the products contain guarana, which is very high in caffeine, about five times the amount in coffee. Large amounts have been linked to side effects such as heartburn, migraines, and indigestion. Loose stools, allergic reactions, and a bad taste in the mouth have been associated with consuming large amounts of the product. Heart medication may be affected by this particular berry. Consult a medical professional before taking any diet supplement and be sure to get supplements from reliable sources. As with so many other things in life, moderation is important.