Tired of reading cyberspace articles filled with questionable acai berry information? We’ve examined the research, outlined the health benefits, & exposed the lies!
Acai berries (pronounced ah-sah-ee) are small, dark purple berries harvested from a palm tree (Euterpe oleraceae Martius) native to South America. The palm grows in the estuaries and flood planes of Brazil, Columbia, and Suriname.
Most of the berries are harvested in Brazil where they’ve been used for centuries as a medicinal resource and a major food source .
Over the past decade, acai has received a lot of attention due to the potential health benefits associated with its high antioxidant content. But more recently, studies have credited the berry with neutralizing two lethal classes of oxidants, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Numerous acai berry information sites credit this little berry with a broad spectrum of therapeutic and anti-carcinogenic properties. So — you may be wondering — which of these claims is actually supported by scientific research? Here’s what we found…
It’s important to note that some of the claims associated with acai are not based on acai-focused studies; but they are scientifically substantiated.
Here’s an example: The USDA, the World Health Organization, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute all state that eating more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat lowers cholesterol. This is a well-researched, well-documented fact.
An acai-focused study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry documented acai’s phytochemical and nutrient composition. The study placed acai’s polyunsaturated fats at 11.1%, and its monounsaturated fats at 60.2 % of its total weight.
Reduces Weight Faster
It’s all over the internet, acai helps you shed pounds 450% faster than diet and exercise alone. Follow this advice and the only thing you’ll be losing a gazillion % faster is your hard earned money.
There are numerous acai berry information cites touting the berry as an extraordinary weight loss supplement. Their claims are supposedly backed by groundbreaking studies — funny thing — we searched the appropriate databases and couldn’t find a single one. Hmmm.
What we did find was a warning issued by the Better Business Bureau (BBB): Stay clear of the ‘free trial’ deals and companies making erroneous claims backed by phantom studies. They’re not reliable sources of acai berry information… and you’re bound to get ripped off.
If you’re interested in buying acai products — but worried about the shysters — check out each company’s track record on the BBB’s website. Don’t just settle for the BBB’s seal on the seller’s site because some of those are as fraudulent as the sellers themselves.
Highest Antioxidant Capacity
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that freeze-dried acai has “the highest antioxidant capacity of any fruit or vegetable tested to date” (as per the Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity assay, ORACFL).
Acai also neutralizes 2 lethal classes of oxidants (peroxyl radicals, and superoxides). If you’re keen on studies, this is the best one to read. It contains the most up to date acai berry information out there.
Boosts Immune Function
Polyphenols are powerful, plant-derived antioxidants that protect vital cellular components from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.
Research suggests that consuming a diet high in polyphenols delivers hefty health benefits, and reduces the risk of chronic and degenerative diseases.
Prevalent in acai, polyphenols are also noted for their anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbal, anti-clotting, and vasodilatory effects (relaxes the blood vessel walls).
Polyphenols also protect and boost your immune function by neutralizing free radicals (the primary cause of immune dysfunction), and by protecting your lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are special cells (antibodies/ white blood cells) that fight infection by attacking bacteria, viruses and other substances that damage your body.
According to Schauss et al, freeze-dried acai is “a potent anti-inflammatory substance.” Their study found that acai significantly inhibits LPS-induce nitric oxide (which is positively correlated with anti-inflammatory activities). The researchers also suggest that acai may be used in the future for treating allergies and/or autoimmune disorders.
Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Since the 1970’s, scientists have noted the high, positive correlation between oxidation and coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis).
According to The Stroke Center (an educational information cite maintained by Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis) the presence of oxidized LDL (the bad cholesterol) in the blood stream predicts heart attacks.
Oxidized LDL cholesterol in the blood stream injures the innermost layer of lining in your arteries (aka the endothelium), and also increases the accumulation of plaques on the artery walls.
It’s common knowledge in the scientific community that phenols (like those found in acai and red wine) decrease oxidized LDL in circulation. Consuming a diet high in antioxidants (particularly phenols) will decrease your risk of heart disease.
Reduce Age-Related Degenerative Diseases
Oxidative stress has been linked with numerous chronic diseases and degenerativeprocesses: such as, heart disease, age-related macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and aging.
According to a 2008 article published in NeuroMolecular Medicine, oxidative stress is also a common element in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases; like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and stroke.
This article strongly encourages dietary supplement of polyphenols (compounds present in acai that “exhibit potent antioxidative properties”). Minimizing oxidative damage to the brain inhibits neurodegenerative diseases, and minimizing oxidative damage overall inhibits age-related diseases.
According to an article published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, and sponsored by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging there’s a high, positive correlation between age-related cataracts, nutrition, and oxidative stress.
A parallel study spearheaded by the Australian Cataract Research Foundation in 2005 also cites oxidation as the key to age-related cataracts.
Scientists emphatically state, “optimizing nutrition by eating a diet rich in antioxidants can extend lens function”. Did you get that? Eating fruits and veggies that contain antioxidants delays the onset of age-related cataracts.
Acai contains high-powered polyphenols. They protect vital cellular components from the damaging effects of oxidative stress, and are noted for their anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-microbal properties.
Often called heart-healthy antioxidants, polyphenols also facilitate “vaso-relaxation” (relaxing of the blood vessel walls) and have “anti-clotting” effects.
Simply put: Blood flow through a relaxed vessel improves circulation, and blood flow through a tense vessel constricts it (aka “hypertension”).
Acai’s Unrivaled Antioxidant Capacity:
Ten years ago — when studies were limited & acai berry information was scarce, talk centered around acai’s high antioxidant capacity. Recently, scientists have been trying to figure out exactly ‘how high.’ The answer, as it turns out – is phenomenally high!
Initial scientific studies placed acai’s antioxidant capacity somewhere between blueberries and strawberries (with blueberries mid-level and strawberries at the high end). In 2006, a team of 10 scientists pegged acai’s antioxidant capacity significantly higher than previous investigations.
Why the discrepancy in data? According to Schauss et al, prior studies used a limited number of assays (scientific tests used to identify the presence, the amount, and the potency of a substance) and may have inappropriately converted fresh weight to dry weight.
To rectify these errors, Schauss and his scientific cohort carefully calculated the conversions, and then subjected the freeze-dried samples to 11 separate tests… and yielded more accurate acai berry information. Their conclusions?
Acai berries have the highest antioxidant capacity of any fruit or vegetable tested to date and… Acai neutralizes 2 of the most lethal classes of oxidants – peroxyl radicals, and superoxides.