Health Benefits of Acai Berry
Acai berries are often hailed as a superfood for their exceptionally high nutritional values and are often referred to as a cure-all. While these berries carry some fairly outrageous health claims, they do provide certain benefits which are well tested.
The antioxidants in acai berries help the body to function more efficiently, which means less energy is wasted on everyday functions. Some people also find the berries to be useful additions to weight loss diets, however, this claim is yet to be backed by solid evidence.
What is Acai Berry?
The acai berry (pronounced ah-sah-yee) is a small dark purple berry native to the Amazon rainforests, where they have long been a staple part of local diets for their healing and energy boosting benefits. Each tiny berry is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins and flavonoids, and also provides vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
The taste is often described as red wine with chocolate overtones, so it’s no surprise that these tiny berries have now become popular around the world.
Unfortunately, the berries are highly perishable and need to be consumed within 24 hours of harvesting, so they are often converted into acai berry supplements, juices, and powders. A sophisticated freeze-drying process is used to ensure that the rich nutritional content is fully preserved.
Acai Berry Benefits
Much of the evidence surrounding acai berries support the belief that they help the whole body to perform more efficiently. A few of the main health benefits of acai berries are:
- Antioxidant content: Acai has one of the highest antioxidant ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) values of any fruit and helps to defend against free-radical damage from the toxins and chemicals our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis. This free-radical damage is a common cause of premature ageing and disease.
- Energy Levels: The rich vitamin B content helps to sustain normal energy levels and improve general body functioning, which means the body wastes less energy performing simple everyday functions.
- Heart Health: The anthocyanins promote normal blood flow and reduce oxidation to cholesterol, which causes fatty plaques from sticking to artery walls. Small-scale pilot studies show promise in reducing cholesterol levels and metabolic syndrome risk factors, particularly in overweight adults. However, further studies are needed.
- Immune System: The berries are rich in iron and vitamins A and C, which defend the body against oxidative stress and help the immune system to function more efficiently.
Does Acai Berry Work for Weight Loss?
The rich nutritional content of acai berries helps to body to function more efficiently, which may make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. However, the evidence supporting its efficacy as a fat burner is contradictory. Although there are no real clinical studies to draw from, it continues to be a popular slimming aid in many countries around the world.
Some people claim that the berries reduce appetite and as a result, they consume fewer calories. It may be that the energy-boosting benefits of acai help to replenish energy stores which are often low during weight loss diets. Others point to the berries gentle nature and consider them to offer a safer alternative to so-called ‘diet pills’.
How Much Should I Take
Due to their short lifespan once picked, acai’s are rarely available as fresh berries outside of Brazil. However, they are commonly freeze-dried and sold as juices, powders and supplements. The juice has delicious chocolate undertones, but watch out for those with high added sugar and little pure acai content.
Powders and tablets often provide higher concentrations of the antioxidants and many people find them to be convenient and cost-effective. There is currently no official recommended daily dose, but most products on the market range between 1000mg to 2000mg and these appear to be perfectly safe.
Acai Berry Side Effects and Interactions
To date, acai berry consumption has no contraindications, allergies or toxicity. However, the evidence is limited and more research is needed into its safety during pregnancy. It is important to take acai within the recommended guidelines on the label.