The Acai Berry

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Originally a wild plant endemic to Northern South America, particularly the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil, Acai berries (pronounced ah-sah-EE) have recently gained great popularity among the ranks of the newly heralded “super-foods” 1 and the Acai palm tree is now widely farmed to meet growing demand for it’s nutrient dense berries.

The slow growing plant is a member of the palm family and naturally thrives in low light environments that are wet and waterlogged. This slender, multi stemmed tree is known to reach heights of fifty to one hundred feet. The tree boasts an upper crown of beautiful “feather-like” palm leaves and produces bunches of nutritious berries. The berries are about ½ inch in diameter and contain a single seed in the centre, and are ready for harvest during the July-December dry season. Each tree stem can produce four to eight bunches of berries per year, and each bunch can weigh close to thirteen pounds!2

The taste is often described as reminiscent of wild berries and dark chocolate, and has been consumed by local natives for centuries, where it is a diet staple.3 The tree has many traditional medicinal uses, and the fruit is often turned into a juice drink to treat many ailments. For example, the oil of the fruit has been used in Brazilian herbal medicine to treat a variety of gastrointestinal issues, and in many traditions the fruit seeds are crushed and made into an infusion to treat fevers.4

Health Properties of the Plant

Acai berries contain many compounds that are hugely beneficial to the health of the consumer. Some of these are powerful antioxidants, iron, calcium, fibre, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, anthocyanins, and monounsaturated fats, to name a few.5

Known to have ten times more antioxidants than red grapes, Acai berries are nutritional powerhouses.5 The berries are low in sugar, but contain excellent amounts of essential vitamins and minerals.

Research shows that acai berries are extremely high in anthocyanins, which are a form of plant antioxidant that are known to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Acai berries are reported to have up to thirty times the anthocyanin content than that of red wine! 5

The berries are also known to be rich in plant sterols that provide protective benefits to our cells.6

Health Benefits

Due to their incredible nutrient density, Acai berries have a multitude of health benefits, and are known to improve cellular health, promote skin health and prevent premature ageing, boost the immune system, promote weight loss, help digestion, and provide support to the cardiovascular system.

Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Cellular health is improved when antioxidants remove the free radicals that are known to cause cellular degeneration, and therefore ageing, as they break down skin, hair, teeth, and eye cells. In fact, being so rich in antioxidants, acai berries can slow down the ageing process and reduce cellular oxidative damage, caused by different internal and external harmful factors, such as UV rays, chemical pollutants, food additives, cigarette smoke and so on.7

The antioxidants found in this tiny fruit have the ability to fight free radicals and defend our bodies against viruses, bacteria and parasites, and thereby prevent many diseases and infections. All this helps the immune system stay strong and work more efficiently.7

Satiety and Weight Loss

Acai berries are exceptionally high in dietary fibre, which compliments any weight loss efforts by promoting satiety (the feeling of fullness) and through acting as a digestive aid. When paired with green tea and capsicum, Acai berries are also a very beneficial weight loss aid.

Heart Health

Heart and cardiovascular health are benefited from the high levels of antioxidants found in Acai berries, because antioxidants are the scavenging particles in our body, which seek out and eliminate the free radicals that are responsible for a wide variety of damaging diseases and conditions including heart disease. Anthocyanins are also related to reducing blood cholesterol by scavenging some of the harmful LDL cholesterol off of artery walls, which reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack. 8

Acai berries are an affordable way to quickly and easily boost your nutrition. The nutrient density of these superfood powerhouses is unrivalled and should be taken advantage of. There are many products on the market that offer acai berries in a variety of forms.

Acai berries have recently hit the market in the United Kingdom and have exploded in popularity for a good reason. Acai can provide you withhealthth of healthy benefits that will improve your body, mind, and longevity. Give it a try!

 

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1 Acai Tablets. (2017) Available:

https://www.oxfordvitality.co.uk/product/acai-tablets/

2 Species Profile: Acai Palm. (2017) Available:

http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/species/acai-palm

3 What does the Acai Berry Taste Like? (2016) Available:

http://vegetarian.lovetoknow.com/What_Does_the_Acai_Berry_Taste_Like

4 Tropical Plant Database: Acai (2005) Available:

http://rain-tree.com/acai.htm%23.WKHPlBRWKf4

5 What is Acai Good For? (2017) Available:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/acai.html

6 12 Health Benefits of Acai Berries. (2017) Available:

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-acai/

7 7 Acai Berry Health Benefits. (2016) Available:

http://youqueen.com/life/health/7-acai-berry-health-benefits/

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