We are living in the fast food generation where almost everything is ready-made, convenient and packed full of sugar and fat. Many people are neglecting their health in favour of a quick meal. However, there are those who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These people are trying to make changes and go back to a lifestyle before processed foods became a dominant food source. Now, more and more people are experiencing the health benefits of “superfoods” such as Goji berries and Acai berries.
What Is a Superfood?
Superfoods can be described as foods that are beneficial for a person’s health. One such example is the Acai berry. Although there are no set criteria to determine what is and what is not a superfood, they are usually something that can be sourced organically, contain antioxidants and are good for general health.
The Lowdown on the Acai Berry
Well known berries are mostly harvested from bushes and trees. The Acai berry is harvested from the palm tree called Tupi-Guarani. The name comes from the Brazilian-Portuguese adaptation of the Tupian word iwaca’i. The Acai berry is dark purple in colour and looks similar to a grape. Just like other palm fruits, the Acai berry grows in huge clusters near the top of the tree.
The taste of an Acai berry is somewhat complex but has been likened to a combination of red wine, blueberry and hints of chocolate. The fruits are perishable and should be consumed within 24 hours. The pulp and the skin are rich in antioxidants, fibre, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins which makes it a perfect energising fruit. The fruit is also recognised as one of the foods that contains the highest oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC). This is the measurement of how well the antioxidants can neutralise free radicals in foods. The higher the ORAC number, the better the body utilises the food to fight free radicals. There are claims that Acai berries have 2x more antioxidants compared to blueberries and 10x that of grapes.
Anthocyanin, the antioxidant found in Acai berries, are good for the heart. This antioxidant is also helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol gets oxidised it sticks to the walls of the arteries resulting in high blood pressure.
Generally, Acai is sold as a frozen pulp, juice, powdered or an ingredient in different products. In Brazil, where it is abundant, the fruit is sold as Acai na tigela. Acai berries should be eaten in moderation. Also, people who have allergies to berries or pollen should avoid eating this fruit because they can trigger an allergic reaction. Many experts and scientists are also trying to learn about its weight loss properties. Although the fruit is included in some weight loss products, the effects are still unproven.
10 Reasons to Introduce Acai Berries in your Diet
There are many reasons why you should include Acai berries in your diet. Although some claims may still need to be proven, having Acai berry and other natural and organic foods is way better than eating greasy, salty and very sweet foods. Below are some of the benefits of Acai berries:
1. Better sleep
Acai contains minerals and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and E. It also helps in reducing stress and enhances brain communication by improving the production of serotonin and dopamine, helping you sleep.
2. Good for the heart
Acai is similar to red wine because of high concentrations of anthocyanins. This antioxidant also has the ability to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. It also helps in preventing blood clots along the arteries and veins, thus improving blood circulation.
3. Natural energy boost
Just like other fruits and berries, Acai contains minerals, vitamins and nutrients that help in boosting energy. Some athletes add powdered Acai berries to their smoothies before and after their workout or after every game to help them maintain energy and develop a fast recovery time between activities.
4. Weight loss
Although the claim still needs further study, Acai berries can aid in losing weight. The fruit is full of fibre and provides the essential omega-3 fatty acids that helps to burn fats in the body. Some people have also stated that Acai berries have the ability to suppress hunger because of the low glycaemic index. But as many experts say, having a balanced diet and regular exercise can enhance weight loss.
5. Maintain healthy skin
Because of the high level of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and essential fatty acids, Acai berries help to maintain skin. The contents of Acai berries prevent oxidation, thus making your skin glow and appear more supple. Plus, Acai oil is a better alternative to chemical based products which can harm your skin. Brazilians have been using Acai oil in treating many skin conditions for years.
6. Good digestion
Because of the high fibre content, Acai berries encourage good digestion and normal bowel movements. It keeps the digestive system healthy and functioning correctly.
7. Improve sexual health and menstruation
Because of the anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of antioxidants, Acai can counteract sterility issues caused by stress and other factors. The high calcium content together with anti-inflammatory properties help in easing menstrual pain, cramps and bloating for women during their monthly cycle.
8. Reduces the chance of certain cancers
Acai berries are rich in ellagic acid and vitamin C which boost the immune system and helps lower the chances of developing cancer. The polyphenolic compounds that are extracted from Acai showed a reduction in cancer cell growth between 56%-86%. It is believed the natural phytochemicals found in Acai berries help slow down the carcinogens on a molecular level and kill off tumour cells before they spread.
9. Relieves symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The natural anti-inflammatory properties found in Acai can help relieve symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and stop the malabsorption of nutrients needed by the body. Acai helps to prevent damage on the walls of the small intestines. It also helps in reducing the stomach acids when acid reflux occurs.
Acai berries can be blended with other fruits and used in many meals. The frozen pulp is a reliable and safe option because you will get 100% Acai berries which you can eat or add to your other food preparations.
Acai berries are not a complete cure for any disease, but they are a good addition to your diet to make your eating habits more healthy and natural.
It’s time to make a healthy change!