The name açaí comes from the Portuguese adaptation of the Tupian word ïwaca’i, which means a ‘[fruit that] cries or expels water.’ The acai is a species of palm tree in the genus Euterpe, and it is cultivated for its fruit and hearts of palm. Acai palms grow to be tall, slender, growing to more than 25m tall. Known as a superfood, acai berry has become very popular in recent years because it is a high-antioxidant food, that is highly beneficial for your health.
There are several different kinds of acai berry cultivated, chief among them being the white acai berries and the dark red or purple varieties. It is also believed that the different kinds have different health benefits, although it hasn’t been proven. The acai berry has a large seed in the middle, covered by the pulp and skin, which are highly beneficial for their nutrients. The acai berry is used in juices, salads, and dietary pills. These berries are also used as a nutritious food source for livestock animals.
Suggested read: All the amazing health benefits of the superfood, Chia seeds
History of acai berry
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
The acai berry has been around for thousands of years, but was introduced in America only as recently as the 1990s. This reddish, deep purple berry originated in the Amazon jungles, where it was used to treat several different kinds of ailments. The Amazonians discovered that when they used this berry in their diet, they tended to live long and healthy lives, when compared to those who didn’t consume it. The acai berry helped boost their immune system, thereby preventing them from getting sick, while also successfully fighting off many medical conditions. The acai berry was also used to make wines.
Why consume acai berries
Acai berries are anti-inflammatory and high-antioxidant foods, that help keep you healthy. Just like the other delicious and nutritious berries, acai berry is a rich source of valuable anti-inflammatory nutrients like anthocyanins, protocatechuic acid, procyanidins, proanthoscyanidins, and epicatechin, along with dietary fiber, and vitamins A and C.
One of the main reasons for the rise in popularity of acai berries as a superfood is because of its power to slow down signs of aging and promote good health. In fact, it is believed that acai berry has more protective antioxidants than blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, goji berry, cranberries, or raspberries. Acai berry is also believed to help in controlling appetite hormones, preventing heart disease, increasing energy, and helping with several metabolic functions.
Acai berry nutritional facts
Image source: Flickr
Acai berry is known to contain many electrolytes, amino acids, trace minerals, small amounts of essential fatty acis, along with the several antioxidants. Acai berry, like any other berry, is believed to help fight cancer, since it targets high levels of free radical damage and inflammation, the main underlying cause that causes cancer.
Acai is loaded with many nutrients, including:
- Antioxidants (polyphenols, anthocyanins, vitamins A, C, and E)
- Good, health fats including omega fatty acids and monounsaturated fats
- Essential dietary fiber
- Essential amino acids
- Electrolytes (potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium)
- Plant sterols
- B-vitamins (B1, B2, and B3)
- Trace minerals (iron, copper, zinc, and calcium)
100g of acai berry (dry powder) is found to provide:
- 533kcal of energy
- 53g of carbohydrates
- 44g of dietary fiber
- 8g of proteins
- 32g of fat
- Manganese – 130% of daily value
- Vitamin A – 15% of daily value
- Copper – 8% of daily value
- Calcium, magnesium, iron, and thiamine – 4% of daily value
Health benefits of acai berry
Let’s take a look at some of the most important health benefits of acai berry.
1. Acai berry protects against heart disease.
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
Acai is an anti-inflammatory food, because of the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, and phytosterols, all of which are beneficial in promoting cardiovascular health. Eating acai berries is known to help reduce inflammation, which is one of the main causes for coronary heart disease.
Also, drinking acai juice regularly has a positive effect on blood lipid levels, while also helping protect the heart. The monounsaturated fats found in acai is especially helpful in promoting heart health, while it also helps the body utilize omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and make cell membranes.
2. Acai berry stimulates healthy digestion.
Acai berry has a high content of dietary fiber, which acts as a natural digestive cleanser, while helping liver and kidneys to process and flush out toxins and waste from the body. It is also an excellent colon cleanser, which means it helps flush out harmful substances and undigested matte from the colon, thereby preventing an accumulation, which isn’t healthy. In essence, the acai berry helps speed up the metabolism, thereby quickening the bowel movements, and prevents bloating, gas, flatulence, and constipation, all of which are caused by foods fermenting in the intestines.
3. Acai berry helps with cognitive functioning.
Cognitive problems like memory loss, dementia, and other age-related memory disorders are caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. And the best food for this is antioxidant-rich foods, like acai berry. They help improve your focus and memory, thus keeping these memory-related conditions at bay. Acai berries are also believed to help stimulate mental functions and help you focus and think clearly, maintain high energy levels, while also dealing with psychological stress better.
4. Acai berry boosts skin health.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
Acai is a wonderful fruit that helps prevent early signs of aging, while helping in skin regeneration. To prevent skin degradation, keep your skin looking younger, and keep early signs of aging at bay, you can consume acai berry and/or apply it topically. If you develop high levels of oxidative stress, your skin is the first organ that shows the effect. In turn, you become prone to wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, discoloration, patches, and sagginess, all of which are tied to free radical damage.
You can use acai berry to get rid of scars, crow’s feet, dry skin, and even stretch marks. Eating foods that contain high levels of antioxidants helps your body repair all the damaged skin cells faster, and therefore, give you a more youthful appearance. The antioxidants help repair the damage done by free radicals, making your skin glow.
5. Acai berry contains high levels of antioxidants.
Most of the health benefits accorded to acai berries is due to the extremely high levels of antioxidants that they contain. The purple acai berries get their distinct hue thanks to the pigmented nutrients anthocyanins, which are found in many other reddish-purple berries. Acai berries are believed to contain 10 times higher antioxidant concentration than that in red grapes, and acai is estimated to contain 10-30 times more anthocyanins than that found in red wine.
It is these anthocyanins that contribute hugely to the anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits of acai berries. Antioxidants are the foremost agents against free radicals; that means, they help slow down the process of free radical damage that is the main cause of deterioration in the body, thereby developing many illnesses over time. Free radical damage, in essence, is the wear and tear attributed to aging, and is caused due to a poor diet, environmental pollution, chemical pollutants, and high levels of UV exposure. Free radicals don’t just make your skin age faster, it is also responsible for causing joint, muscular, and skeletal pains. Fighting off free radical damage is beneficial for all of these systems: cardiovascular, immune, digestive, neurological, and endocrine.
6. Acai helps boost weight loss.
Image source: Shutterstock
Among the several health benefits of acai berry, its power to curb appetite is one of the most known. Acai berry affects the hormones that control blood sugar levels, thereby quelling pangs of hunger, by inducing fullness and satiety. It also helps in improving metabolic functions, which help your body absorb nutrients better, break down foods, regulate insulin levels, and eliminate waste and toxins from the body.
It is believed that to boost healthy weight loss, you need to curb cravings, by boosting proper digestion and controlling the insulin levels in the blood. And acai berry does it wonderfully and effectively. Thus, acai berry might be highly beneficial to suppress your appetite, thereby boosting weight loss.
7. Acai berry is an immune booster.
A rich source of vitamin C and ellagic acid, acai helps suppress the growth of cancer. The phytochemicals present in acai are believed to halt the process of cancer growth and multiplication on a molecular level, killing off tumorous cells before they metastasize.
8. Acai berry is an energy booster.
Acai berry is a natural energy booster, which gives you immense stamina to keep going for longer periods of time. It also helps combat exhaustion and fatigue.
9. Acai berry boosts libido.
It’s not known whether acai berry has a direct impact on sexual stamina and libido, but what is known and well-researched is its ability to boost the general blood circulation throughout the body. Since a lack of blood flow is cited as one of the main causes for lowered sexual stamina and desire, acai berries are used as an alternative treatment to help patients with these problems.
These are all the numerous health benefits of acai berry, that you probably never thought of. So the next time you go grocery shopping, don’t forget to put these reddish-purple berries in your basket!
Featured image source: Flickr