The Acai Berry Super Food

This super berry has gotten much media attention lately and it leaves us with many questions. Where does this berry come from? Why is it good for us? Will it really keep us healthy and help us lose weight? Based on the latest research, let’s explore all we know to be true about this berry.
Acai berry, pronounced (ah-SAH’ee) is said to be one of the most nutritious foods in the world. So what is this berry and what does it exactly do? Acai is a small purplish, blackish-looking berry. It is a cross between a grape and a blueberry but smaller and darker. The fruit has a large seed and a small amount of pulp. It’s now being used in the United States in energy drinks, bars, juices, and even yogurts and ice-creams. It comes from the Amazon palm tree in Brazil and the native people there have been traditionally using acai berries to treat digestive disorders, skin conditions, and insomnia, to name a few.
The berries are actually found in some of the large palm trees that grow in the thick forests. Unlike cherries which grow individually in trees, the acai berry grows in bunches, more like bananas would.
These berries have gotten lots of media hype lately and have been featured on talk shows such as Oprah, Rachel Ray, NBC, CBS, and ABC. An Oprah guest, health expert Dr. Perricone, promotes Acai berries as one of the best foods you may have never heard of. He considers it a super food with many reasons to back it up.
These berries are packed with antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fats which are the perfect trifecta when looking at the nutritional profile of any food. Essential fats, which nutritionists speak of quite frequently, help to kick start metabolism, absorb more nutrition from your food, help with brain and heart health, as well as a host of other things. It also contains amino acids which are the building blocks of protein, and of course antioxidants. We speak of antioxidants all the time but most people aren’t really sure what they really are and why they’re so vital. We just know that they must be good for us because we talk about them so often.
Antioxidants help to defend the body against free radicals which are harmful byproducts produced by the body with the help of pollutants like cigarette smoke, pesticides, air pollution, and so forth. Eating foods high in these anti-oxidants such as fruits and vegetables, interferes with the aging process and disease process by neutralizing these free radicals. By lessening the destructive power of free radicals, we can help reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and of course, cancer. The USDA has a way of measuring these antioxidants in foods called the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scale and it’s used by many nutritionists. The acai berry has surpassed many foods on the ORAC scale by leaps and bounds. Examples of other foods that are high on this scale would be blueberries, goji berries, and cranberries, and from the research we’ve seen so far, Acai surpasses them all in that department.
The other thing all these foods have in common would be the different blueish, purplish, pigments which is a measure of the anthocyanins and flavonoids they contain. Anthocyanins comes from 2 Greek words, “plant” and “blue”, so these are responsible for the pigments in fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Foods that are richest in these would blueberries, red grapes, red wine, and acai.
There is lots of discussion about these berries and how they pertain to weight loss. It is true that any fruit that is high in fiber and antioxidants which help you feel full and rid the body of toxins would be great for energy and weight loss. There is still much research that has to be done as far has prevention of illness and extreme weight loss so promotion of these berries as a miracle solution or a quick fix is highly pre-mature until more research is done. They’re simply a very nutritious fruit that can certainly be a part of any weight loss plan. In fact, it is sometimes given in extreme weight loss facilities to help give clients energy to get through challenging workouts.
Where and how to we get the acai berry? The best advice would be to try and purchase it as a juice that has been freeze dried as the fruit is extremely perishable, therefore would never last the trip over to the United States in its natural form. Therefore any brand you buy should say “freeze dried powder” or extracts such as what you would find in the products like Monavie, and the brand Earthfruit which has a freeze dried powder. Don’t fall for things that say 4:1, or super concentrated extract. It must say freeze dried powder on the label.
Though it won’t be widely available yet in your average grocery store, you can definitely find it at any health food store, primarily in juice form, just be sure you’re buying 100% juice and not just fruit punch with red coloring and flavoring. There are some varieties available that have a blend of healthy juices like blueberry or mangosteen, just be sure they don’t contain 75% apple juice. The acai berry is a relatively new phenomenon here in the US, but more and more research is coming out and I am optimistic about the findings.

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