The medical benefits of the acai berry, as most recently touted by Oprah’s pal Dr. Oz, are all over the news. It’s amazing to consider how wildly popular the acai berry has become. In fact, despite how often we hear about acai, very few people actually know what acai is. More specifically, most are unclear on exactly what the medical benefits of the acai berry actually are.
The acai berry has some pretty impressive qualities. Let’s analyze what is known about the acai berry and try to separate the truth from the hype. What is acai berry? Even if you’ve heard of acai you still may be a little vague on exactly what acai is. Deep in the Amazon rain forest, a dark purple berry grows in the tops of a certain species of palm tree. The acai berry itself is the size of a grape, and ranges in color from deep purple to black.
The acai palm is also found in Belize and Peru, but most frequently in the floodplains and swamps of the Brazilian rain forest. For centuries, the native peoples of the jungle harvested acai berries as a staple crop. The traditional Caboclo tribes get as much as 40% of their food supply from acai – and because of the incredible nutrition density of acai berries, they stay healthy! The nutritional benefits of acai Acai berries are one of the most nutritious foods known to mankind. Acai berries contain the following:
– Anthocyanins: antioxidants found in brightly-colored fruits and vegetables
– Flavonoids: powerful antioxidants – acai contains twelve flavonoid compounds
– Resveratrol: for a healthy heart
– Omega 3 and 6 oils: great for the cardiovascular system; improves the skin – Amino acids: the raw materials the body uses to create proteins
– Calcium: for strong bones and teeth; vital for proper nervous system function Acai berries are a complete food, containing all the nutrients listed above, along with carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fats.
That’s why the Caboclo Indians of Brazil can stay healthy while eating nothing but acai. The medical benefits of acai In the United States, acai berry supplements are promoted for weight loss, as energy boosters, and as a source of antioxidants. There has been very little clinical research to back up the former claims. Virtually all clinical research on the acai berry has focused on its potential as an antioxidant.
To determine the medical benefits of acai, we must turn to Brazil, where acai is much more well-understood and integrated into society. In Brazil, acai is frequently consumed as an energy booster as well as for its antioxidant and general health benefits.
The claims made by acai supplement manufacturers that acai can facilitate weight loss and detoxify the body need further study. No amount of anecdotal evidence can take the place of clinical research and study. However, it’s clear that the medical benefits of acai are not limited to weight loss. Acai contributes to overall health in a wide variety of ways. Benefits of acai berry supplements vs. acai juice Acai berry is most frequently found outside of Brazil in two forms: juice and supplements.
Acai berry juice is sold, along with pomegranate juice, as a cure-all. Popular brands like Mona Vie and Amazon Thunder are heavily promoted via mainstream marketing and multi-level marketing schemes. However, acai berry juice is not the best source of the benefits of acai. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry found that acai berry juice had less antioxidant activity than concord grape juice. The study found that acai had about the same potency as the easily-available, and much less expensive, cranberry juice. In comparison, a 2006 study published in the same journal found that freeze-dried acai berry powder maintained its high antioxidant activity.
This is important because freeze-dried acai berry powder is the main ingredient of acai berry supplements. According to clinical research, the benefits of acai are more readily absorbed by the body in powder form. So acai berry supplements are better than acai juice (but don’t taste as good!).There are some very clear and compelling medical benefits of acai berry. These include but are not limited to: antioxidant activity in the body; support for a healthier cardiovascular system; source of trace minerals and nutrition. The effectiveness of acai berry for weight loss is not yet proven by the medical community. Considering the wild popularity of acai berry-related supplements and juices, we should expect to see comprehensive studies on these issues in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy your acai with the knowledge that it’s helping you live a healthier life.