The acai berry, native to Brazil, has gained popularity as "superfood" in recent years, and science backs up many of the health claims attributed to it. The little purple berry is packed with antioxidants and an impressive array of powerful plant compounds that support, health, healing, and cellular function.
Acai has a large seed inside, which must be removed before eating, and the pulp tastes similar to cranberries with a bittersweet dark chocolate aftertaste.
One of the most rigorous studies on acai berries looked at the effect of freeze-dried acai on the reduction of free radicals. Too many of these cells in the body create oxidative stress and can lead to disease.
The study results suggest that acai berries have more extremely powerful antioxidant properties for reducing oxidative stress than any other berry and perhaps any other fruit.
Acai berries are high in polyphenols, compounds that have cardio-protective qualities. Including acai berries in the diet has been shown to decrease low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the type of cholesterol that collects in arteries and can increase the risk of heart attacks.
Eating acai berries increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL) which is the good lipoprotein that helps ensure the proper balance of cholesterol in the body.
Regular exercise is a key component in good health. However, exercising to exhaustion creates oxidative stress and increases the release of free radicals into the bloodstream. Other, normal side effects of intense exercise include muscle soreness for a day or two afterwards.
Acai berries are also a rich source of omega oils, which can improve the lipid profile of cells and help with cellular repair, reducing the degree of muscle damage and muscle soreness post-workout.
Because acai berries are high in omega oils and fiber, their beneficial compounds are readily absorbed. This means less work for your digestive system, which is good news for everyone, but especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's, or ulcerative colitis, because this eases the digestive process.
Acai berries are wonderful for skin health and radiance because they are high in omega-3, 6, and 9 and boast an impressive amount of vitamins A and C.
These fatty acids and vitamins can help turn skin from dry and dull to supple and youthful. Acai berries may also help with redness and irritated skin due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2022 research study found that acai berries hold incredible potential to help with neurodegeneration.
The extraordinarily high antioxidant levels mean this berry can reduce the formation of toxic bodies that contribute to the breakdown of neural pathways and cells in the brain.
L-arginine supplements are often given to men seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). this vasodilator helps relax the smooth muscles in the penis so the arteries can fill with blood. Acai seed extract, which can be bought over the counter, has been found to have 20 times more vasodilating capabilities than L-arginine.
Remember that this is the seed, not the pulp of the berry, so in this case, eating large quantities of the berry won't do the trick.
A 2006 study found that the polyphenolic compounds within acai berries have the ability to reduce abnormal cell growth by up to 86%.
The malfunctioning and growth of atypical cells causes aging, cancer, and many other diseases, which the acai berry may help counteract.
There is some early evidence, not yet researched, that suggests the pulp of the acai berry could help encourage weight loss. It appears to do so by reducing the negative impact of high-fat diets, and because of the anecdotal results, many natural weight loss supplements contain acai.
While these claims are as yet unsubstantiated, because acai berries are high in fiber they, like other high-fiber foods, can help curb cravings and keep you feeling full longer, which can help reduce over-snacking that may act against some people's weight loss goals.
Though not a specific health benefit, the ease of adding acai to the diet should not be overlooked. Smoothies are a quick and easy way to incorporate the berries into recipes, along with a host of other healthful ingredients.
Purchase frozen acai berries and blend with anything you usually add to your smoothies, including banana, protein powder, chia seeds, and greens.
If you are lucky enough to find fresh acai at your local market, be sure to give the berries a try in their original state
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