The acai berry is the fruit of the Acai palm. It is an important food in many Central and South American cultures, where the plant originated. A study found that 42% of the total food intake by weight of the Caboclo populations of the Brazilian Amazon is comprised of Acai berries.
Many companies selling acai berry products tout it as a superfood that will cure anything that ails you. However, there isn’t much science to back up many of those claims. That doesn’t mean that Acai isn’t good for you. Like other berries, it contains many compounds and antioxidants that may improve your health.
Here are 8 health benefits of acai berries:
Acai berries contain anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that is believed to play a major role in the prevention of cancer. Anthocyanins are present in all berries (they are responsible for the rich black, red, and purple colors of berries) and research has found that they may have a significant preventative effect on cancer.
A study published in the journal Nutrition found that rats fed high fat diets along with acai pulp had lower levels of total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol than rats who were fed high fat diets without acai pulp. The anthocyanins in acai may also help to lower cholesterol levels.
The plant sterols (phytosterols) found in acai berry (B-sitosterol, campesterol, and sigmasterol) have been proven to prevent the digestive system from absorbing cholesterol from foods.
A study published in the June 2011 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis found that acai juice protects against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokine production. The cholesterol-lowering benefits mentioned above also contribute to acai’s role in maintaining a healthy heart.
High in Antioxidants
Purple acai has been found in studies to have high levels of antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are beneficial because they fight against the free radicals, high amounts of which are associated with lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Immune System Support
The antioxidants in acai, including high levels of vitamin c, may help to boost the immune system.
There have been some promising results in studies that show acai may help with the symptoms of diseases due to chronic inflammation such as asthma and autoimmune disorders. One study found that acai may be a natural COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor, meaning that it may help to inhibit pain and inflammation without the side effects of over-the-counter or prescription COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors.
The antioxidants in acai may help to reduce the effects of aging. Flavonoids and anthocyanins protect the cells within the body and can reduce cell degeneration, helping to keep the body healthy and youthful.
Companies selling acai often claim that it speeds up the metabolism. Though it does contain amino acids believed to be essential in a healthy metabolism, there is still very little scientific evidence to prove that eating acai berry alone aids in weight loss. That being said, acai berries are quite high in fiber and low in calories and any food with those qualities, when eaten in place of calorie-laden snacks, will helps a person to maintain a healthy weight.