Acai berries, native to the Amazon region of Brazil, have long been considered a staple of the South American diet. This super fruit has exploded in popularity over the last several years as scientists are discovering the amazing health benefits just a small amount of Acai berries can deliver.
Acai berries are small, dark purple fruit that grow on rainforest palm trees in Central and South America. To prepare for eating, the berries are soaked to soften the skin and mashed, with the pits removed. The taste is unique - slightly earthy with hints of dark fruit and bittersweet chocolate.
While fresh Acai berries have a short shelf life and therefore aren't exported regularly, imported Acai fruit is sold as a frozen fruit purée, dried powder or pressed juice. Foodstuffs like jellies and ice cream are also flavored with Acai.
Millions of Americans struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other cardiovascular conditions. Toxic free radicals in the bloodstream prevent cells from regenerating healthily and can increase development of heart disease. The anti-oxidant compounds in Acai berries make them a heart-healthy addition to your diet. A chemical in Acai berries, called anthocyanin, supports balanced cholesterol levels in the body. Eating Acai berries regularly has been shown to reduce levels of HDL, or the "bad" cholesterol. In addition to reducing cholesterol levels, Acai also supports circulation, improves blood composition, and relaxes the blood vessels. The last helps those who struggle with high blood pressure, keeping their artery walls supple.
Although losing weight boils down to eating less and moving more, being able to sustain that lifestyle is challenging for many. Some foods, however, can help your body process extra fat and metabolize your food more efficiently, reducing the body's ability to store fat. Some studies have shown that Acai berry pulp actually can reduce fatty deposits.
Foods that are high in fiber, such as Acai berries, can help you feel full longer - important when you're on a diet. The fiber also helps with digestion, allowing food to move regularly through the gut and bowels. This allows your body to maximize absorption of nutrients, giving you more energy to exercise.
Your skin takes quite a beating from everyday life. Between sun damage and dryness from weather conditions, keeping your skin smooth and soft can be a challenge. Fruit containing anti-oxidants can help your skin naturally heal itself, encouraging healthy new regeneration. The deep purple skins of the Acai berry have tremendous anti-oxidant concentration and are a boost for your skin care regimen.
Acai berries also encourage blood flow and improve the composition of your blood, nourishing your skin deep down and producing a healthy glow. Acai oil in skin care products is a natural alternative to harsh, sometimes drying chemicals. Even acne sufferers can find relief using Acai, as the berries anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce the appearance of breakouts.
Eating a diet high in fiber can help your digestive system function smoothly and regularly. Acai berries, rich in healthy fiber, can help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The anti-inflammatory properties help reduce stress in the gut, allowing your body to process nutrients in your food. The fiber in just one serving of Acai berries is 8 percent of the average daily allowance! The powerful detoxification properties of Acai berries help your liver and kidneys reduce harmful substances in your body, and encourage the filtration of unnecessary additives in your food. Acai berries are rich in vitamins and nutrients, improving your overall health. They are low in sugar, as well, making them an essential part of a healthy diet.
There are certain chemicals in Acai berries, called polyphenolic compounds, that have been shown to reduce the number of malfunctioning cells in the body - that is, the cells that aren't working properly to sustain the vital processes in your systems. A healthy immune system starts with a healthy body, increasing your ability to fight off viruses and illness-causing bacteria.
Acai berries are loaded with Vitamin C, an important immune system booster. The improved blood circulation that occurs with regularly consuming Acai berries also helps your body fight off illness by improving its ability to deliver nutrients to every part of your body.
The compounds in Acai berries help increase blood flow and oxygen levels in the blood. Increased blood flow to the brain improves cognitive function, especially in the areas of the cerebrum, responsible for higher-level thought and functioning. You won't just think better with regular Acai berry consumption- the fruit is also linked to the healthy brain again and is thought to reduce the risk of Altzheimers and dementia in older people. Antioxidants in acai berries also reduce inflammation and oxidation in brain cells, which inhibits memory and learning.
When the balance between "free radicals" and healthy cells in the body becomes out of whack, the chances of developing cancer increase. The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds from Acai berries have been linked to a decrease in damaging free radicals. The effect free radicals have on the cells of the body isn't fully known. But it has been established that they increase damage to healthy cells, thus leading to diseases including cancer.
When you eat a diet rich in dark-skinned fruit and leafy greens, you increase the presence of anti-oxidant compounds in your blood. These foods also promote healthy cell regeneration and protection. While Acai berries may not be a cure for cancer, they do have benefits that help your body maintain health.
A healthy body gets more restful sleep, higher cognitive function, and boundless energy. The vitamins and minerals found in Acai berries provide a noticeable energy boost when consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet. The bost from just a handful of Acai berries per day can have a notable effect on your energy levels and increase your stamina. Special compounds found in Acai berries, called phytonutrients, increase the blood flow in your body and boost the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. This one-two combination naturally increases your energy and alertness, allowing increased stamina and vitality.
There are many ways to consume Acai berries. They may be soaked in water and mashed into a paste. The paste can be eaten as a spread or mixed with Greek yogurt or oatmeal. The frozen berries can be blended into a smoothie or protein shake.
Organic Acai berry pulp can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. Anything that you would typically use a sweetened jelly can be replaced with the Acai pulp, including on toast or even blending into tofu meatballs. Make sure that you purchase frozen, versus fresh, as they berries will oxidize quickly. This causes them to lose vital anti-oxidant properties, diminishes freshness, and makes them taste terrible!
Acai berries are a nutrient-rich fruit high in anti-oxidants, so there are not many drawbacks to consuming them. However, overconsumption of these may lead to unpleasant side effects on your digestive system. Check the ingredient label when purchasing the pulp, to ensure that it doesn't have added ingredients, especially added sugar. While the berries are not overly sweet, adding refined sugar reduces the health benefits of fresh fruit.
Although the nutritional benefits of Acai berries are without question, it is important to incorporate these as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, versus using them as a "magic bullet" for health issues. Nutritious food, plenty of water, regular exercise, and regular Acai berry consumption will help you lead a healthier life.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.