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Acai Berries pack a nutritional punch

First things first, just like everything about this berry, it’s name has an unusual pronunciation, pronounced ‘ah-sigh-eee.’ These berries are native to Central and South America especially the Amazon rainforest where the natives have been using acai berries for health benefits for thousands of years. 

Its bluish-purple pigment and size make it similar in appearance to large blueberries. Although they are referred to as berries, they contain pits like apricots and olives which technically make them a drupe. Raw acai berries have an earthy taste which is a lot like a mixture of blackberries with notes of bitterness similar to dark chocolate.

 

This Brazilian superfruit has recently gained global popularity and praise for being extremely healthy. Acai berries contain more antioxidants than other berries like blueberry, strawberry, and cranberry. The “acaí boom” over the last 2 decades has become an important part of the Brazilian Amazon’s economy. This purple fruit certainly packs a punch when it comes to nutrition and health benefits. 

 

Read on to know more about these benefits and where to buy these berries — 

  • Acai berries are an antioxidant powerhouse- Just like all the members of the berry family, acai berries are chock full of antioxidants. Their high antioxidant content is one of the reasons these berries have become so popular, giving them an edge over other antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries and cranberries. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and are important because they neutralise the damaging effects of free radicals throughout the body. 

NOTE: Acai pulp is considered a better source of antioxidants than acai juice.

  • Acai berries are nutrient dense- The nutritional profile of acai berries is unlike most fruits, they are high in fat and low in sugar with trace minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and potassium. Acai berries get their most powerful health benefits from its plant compounds which are responsible for its deep purple hue. Acai berries contain high levels of omega-3, omega-6 and  oleic acid fatty acids. Oleic acid is often used in skin care products. 

NOTE: Did you know that acai berries are one of the most nutritionally complete foods available on Earth?

  • Acai berries boost the immune system- Acai berries are loaded with vitamin C which adds them to the list of immunity boosters. The vitamin C in acai berries also helps in growth and development of all the tissues of the body tissues and to remove toxins from the system. 

           NOTE: 100 grams of acai’s fruit pulp contains only 70 calories, 2 grams   sugar, 4 grams of carbs, and over 15% of Vitamin A, B6, B12, and C.

  • Acai berries help treat constipation- Acai berries have useful dietary fibres which aid in proper bowel movement, relieving indigestion and constipation. NOTE: Three teaspoons of Acai berry powder a day gives you one gram of natural fibre.

 

  1. Acai berries have possible anti cancer effects- Unfortunately no food is the magical-curing-cancer pill, but there are a bunch of foods that inhibit the growth and spreading of cancer cells. Acai berries are one of these foods. 

NOTE: One study showed that the phenolic extract of acai berry had anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activity in colon cancer cells.

  • Acai berries boost brain function- The many plant compounds found in acai berries protect your brain from age related damage. The antioxidants counteract the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidation in brain cells which tend to affect memory and learning. Acai berries are known to help stimulate this “housekeeping” response in brain cells. 

            NOTE: The antioxidants with their anti-inflammatory properties help lower

            the risk of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

  • Acai berries are all about the skin- The antioxidant powers of acai berries relieve skin irritation, redness and moisturise the skin. Consuming acai berries is extremely beneficial for the glowy skin and to treat and reduce skin related infections and diseases. Acai berry extract oil can be a better solution in contrast to harsher, chemical-based products. 

NOTE: Acai oil is frequently used in cosmetic products.

  • Acai berries are great for the kidneys- The acai berry has anti-inflammatory properties which reduce swelling in the bladder, remove harmful bacteria from the body and flush out the kidneys of toxins. They help maintain proper excretory functioning of the kidneys. 

NOTE: Add one litre water to the concentrate and keep sipping through the day.

  • Acai berries help with weight loss- There is promising evidence to show that acai berries help reduce the risks of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes which causes obesity and overweight issues. 

NOTE: Acai berry supplements are often marketed as weight loss aids.

  • Acai berries maintain heart health- Acai berries promote cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. 

NOTE: Daily supplements with your doctors advice is recommended.

 

Possible side effects of eating acai berries —

  • There aren’t many drawbacks of eating acai berries given its multitude of health benefits. However, don’t overestimate its health claims. Just like most things in life, take it with a grain of salt. 

 

  • When buying  pre-processed acai berry pulp, keep in mind to check for added sugar. Read the ingredients label. 

 

  • Experts often advise using caution if you’re pregnant and avoiding acai berries if you have an allergy to plants in the palm family.

 

  • Eating acai can sometimes affect MRI exam results. If you have an MRI scheduled, be sure to let your doctor know that you have eaten the berry.

 

How to eat acai berries —

Unfortunately, fresh acai berries have a very short shelf life so they aren’t available outside of where they are grown. But every situation has a silver lining, so these berries are exported world over as a frozen fruit puree, pressed juice or freeze dried powder. The three main forms of acai berries are purées, powders and juices which can be used in a variety of dishes like an acai smoothie or smoothie bowl, milkshakes, cakes, food colouring and desserts. 

 

Superfood of the future- conclusion —

  • Acai berry cleanses have become popular and considered to be a part of a detoxification regimen that helps in cleansing of the internal body and weight loss. 
  • Acai juice works better than acai supplements in this regimen. 
  • We all know that acai berries, in raw and juice forms, have many health benefits thanks to their high nutrient content. 
  • Acai berries are a superfood that are extremely versatile just waiting to be used in unusual ways. 

If you are looking for new fruit to add to your diet, acai berries may be the answer. This deliciously multifaceted superfood definitely lives up to the hype. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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