The acai berry is the fruit of the acai palm and is traditionally consumed in Brazil but has gained popularity abroad as a food and functional ingredient. Açai, a fruit indigenous to the Amazon, is rich in phytochemicals that possesses high anti-oxidant activities, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease properties. Because of its high phenolic content, the phytochemical-enriched acai oil from acai fruit offers a promising alternative to traditional tropical oils for food, supplements, and cosmetic applications.
Acai berry nutrition facts
The açaí berry offers approximately 247 calories per 100-gram serving. A 50-gram serving of powdered, freeze-dried açaí fruit pulp and skin provides about 265 calories, 26 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of protein and 16 g of fat (mostly oleic acid or monounsaturated fat). The powder is particularly rich in calcium and vitamin A.
Health benefits of acai berry
Acai berries are rich source of anthocyanins which helps to protect the body against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
Study has shown that phenolic compounds found in acai berry have significant antioxidant activity.
Studies has shown that acai pulp significantly increases antioxidant status of human blood plasma.
Useful in metabolic disorders and overweight
Metabolic syndrome is a condition which is defined by a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and/or type-2 diabetes. Consumption of açai fruit pulp reduced levels of selected markers of metabolic disease risk in overweight adults.
According to a study, 10 overweight adults (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m² and ≤ 30 kg/m²) who took 100 g açai pulp twice daily for 1 month. The result has shown reduction in fasting glucose and insulin levels following the 30 day treatment. There was also a reduction in total cholesterol (p = 0.03), as well as borderline significant reductions in LDL-cholesterol and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL-cholesterol (both p = 0.051). The result concluded that acai pulp helps to reduce risk of metabolic syndrome related diseases.
Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), a critical enzyme against oxidative stress, is implicated in aging and degenerative diseases. Intake of açai supplementation promotes healthy aging and alleviate symptoms of diseases with a high level of oxidative stress, partly through reducing oxidative damage, and modulating nutrient metabolism and oxidative stress response pathways.
Acai supplementation in diet has anti-aging property and proven to increase the life span through activation of stress response pathways and suppression of Pepck expression.
A study confirmed that acai palm fruit pulp improves the survival of flies on a high fat diet.
Study has shown that a a nutraceutical containing freeze dried açai pulp promotes healthy aging and reduces oxidative damage in sod1 knockdown flies.
Anti-Inflammatory and heart health
Açaí fruit pulp has received much attention because of its high antioxidant capacity and potential anti-inflammatory effects. Regular intake of acai pulp juice has athero-protective effects by reducing lipid peroxidation through boosting antioxidant enzymes and inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokine production. It is an effective natural way to reduce inflammation or swelling, reducing or eliminating the pain and useful in atherosclerosis.
Eating acai berry promote heart health by keeping arteries healthy. It helps to prevent plaque build up inside the arteries or hardening of the arteries thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Studies has confirmed that açaí juice attenuates atherosclerosis through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
Another study has shown that acai has significant antioxidant activity and has potential anti-inflammatory activity.
Consumption of acai berry helps to fight and prevent cancer.
According to a study acai polyphenolics inhibit growth of human leukemia cells via induction of apoptosis.
In another study, an açai polyphenolic extract had anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activities in colon cancer cells and can be effective as natural colon cancer chemopreventive agent.
Acai berry recipe ideas and uses
Add aci berry to flavor ice creams, smoothies, shakes, liquor, and other desserts.
Add acai berries to yogurt, or salad.
Acai juice is a refreshing drink commonly obtained from macerating ripe berries. To prepare juice, ripe-berries are soaked in lukewarm water to soften their thin outer flesh. Squeezed, and strain seeds strained out to produce a dense purple creamy liquid with a distinctive nutty flavor.
Add acai berry to your baking products like cake, muffin etc.
Traditionally in the tribal Amazon belt, acai extracts commonly mixed with starchy root vegetable, manioc and is eaten in porridge.
Blend the acai pulp with coconut milk into the blender mix with fresh lemon juice, a pinch of cinnamon, sweeten with honey. Freeze them into make acai berry popsicle.