Monday, May 2, 2011

What are Acai Berries and Acai Berry Juice -- What Are the Health Benefits?

We have all heard about acai berries? But what about the health benefits of acai berries and berry juice? Acai berries are highly promoted by marketers who say it’s one of the top superfoods with anti-aging and weight loss properties. Some manufacturers use acai berries in beauty products. But do scientific studies support these claims of acai benefits?

How to Enjoy Nutritious Exotic Fruits
What is the acai berry? The acai berry is a 1" long reddish, purple fruit. It comes from the acai palm tree, which is native to South America, especially Brazil.

Research on the acai berry has focused on its possible antioxidant activity. Theoretically, that activity may help prevent diseases caused by oxidative stress such as heart disease and cancer.

Is the acai berry healthy? Acai contains several substances called anthocyanins and flavonoids. anthocyanin comes from two Greek words meaning “plant” and “blue.” Anthocyanins are responsible for the colorful hues in many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Foods that are richest in anthocyanins -- such as blueberries, red grapes, red wine, and acai -- are very strongly colored, ranging from deep purple to black.

Anthocyanins and flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help defend the body against life's stressors. They also play a role in the body's cell protection system. Free radicals are harmful by-products produced by the body. Eating food rich in antioxidants may interfere with aging and the disease process by neutralizing free radicals.

By lessening the destructive power of free radicals, antioxidants may help reduce the risk of some diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Are there known health benefits of acai?

Some studies show that acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity with even more antioxidant content than cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or blueberry. Studies are ongoing, though, and the jury is still out.

People eat acai berries to address various health conditions. But so far, acai berries have no known health benefit that’s any different than that of other similar fruits.

Research supports eating a diet rich in antioxidants. There’s no doubt that berries and other fruits are a key part of any healthy diet promoting weight loss. The jury’s still out on whether there is something special about acai’s ability to shed excess pounds.