Acai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) are a fruit that grows on palm trees in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. These berries are somewhat smaller than a grape, with very large seeds covered with a small amount of pulp.
Because of the intense tropical environment that they grow in, acai berries have an extremely high anthocyanin content. This is evident by their dark purple color. Anthocyanins are a class of antioxidants found in most dark-colored fruits, especially berries.
Antioxidants. Acai has become popular worldwide because it's near the top of the list of antioxidant fruits for nutritional benefits. These berries have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any fruit in the world. According to its ORAC values, acai berries have about 5 times the antioxidant level of blueberries. It also has 10 to 30 times the flavonoid content of red wine.
The ORAC Test. A laboratory test known as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is one standard for measuring antioxidant capacity. The acai berry scores near the top, about equal with noni, mangosteen and goji berries, three other superfruits discussed elsewhere in this website. For more information about the ORAC table, go to ORAC Values.
The acai berry is also very rich in healthy omega fats — similar to olive oil. They're also loaded with protein, and contain as much Vitamin C as blueberries, and are rich in several other vitamins and minerals, as well as being high in fiber. This is one power-packed fruit!
Will acai help you lose weight? Acai is heavily promoted as a way to increase your energy and raise your metabolism. These are great benefits — but will it help you lose weight, as all the ads say? Probably not; weight loss isn't as simple as adding one food to your diet — and there's nothing inherently magical about acai that will make you lose weight all by itself.
Acai does provide a whole host of other benefits, including all of those you'd expect to get from an antioxidant fruit: prevention of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, cataracts, macular degeneration, and premature aging.
Additional benefits of the acai berry include: relief from chronic inflammation, high blood cholesterol, bacterial and urinary tract infections, improved blood flow, healthier skin, detoxification, concentration and overall health improvement.
The acai berry is very perishable — the berries spoil just 24 hours after being picked, due to their high fat content. Producers have solved that problem by offering acai products that capture the nutritional value in a form that doesn't spoil.
Acai can be bought online in freeze-dried powders, powder capsules or as juice in a bottle. One form is not necessarily better than another; what's important are the steps taken to ensure the antioxidant content. Check to see that the company discloses thorough details about their manufacturing process and any other ingredients they add.
Freeze-dried Acai Powders. From a nutritional stand point, freeze-dried Acai powder maintains the same nutrition profile as the acai berry. In fact, because freeze-dried Acai removes the water from the acai, ounce for ounce, freeze-dried Acai has a much higher concentration of nutrients than even fresh acai.
The bulk powder is your best bargain; you can use it to blend into a smoothie for about a dollar per serving. There are also many other powders that blend antioxidant fruits in with acai.
Acai Juices. Many of the acai berry juice products are blended with other fruit juices. This is not necessarily good or bad; it depends on how it's done. Remember, antioxidants work together as a team. Your body may respond better to a combination of antioxidant juices, not just one.
Sometimes, companies will create a blend to make a product taste better; in this case, it should also be lower in price. Acai should still be the primary ingredient, however — that's what you're paying for.
Here are some questions you need to answer to help you decide which acai berry product is best for you.
Are acai berries the primary ingredient? What percentage of the product do they make up? To obtain the greatest benefit, acai berry should be the primary ingredient. Also avoid any product that includes the acai seed; there's no reason to include the seed except as a filler, since it has no nutritional value.
Does the company provide you complete information about their product? Reputable manufacturers usually disclose manufacturing details and ingredient information on the supplement's packaging or the company's website.
With this product, a suggested serving of only one ounce gives you the benefits of 3 or 4 servings of ordinary fruit and more. You can drink as much as you like, of course! I find these juices make a great way to wash down my other supplements after a meal.
Companies to Avoid. Due to the fact that acai berries have received so much hype lately, there are many unscrupulous companies trying to cash in on the craze. Many complaints are being made against some of the online products being offered with "free trials."
These companies take your credit card details before providing the free trial. When you call the company to complain, you won't be able to get through, no matter how long you wait. If you return bottles of pills to the company, you probably won’t get a refund. To top that off, their prices are ridiculously high. Don't fall for these "free trial" offers.
There are also all kinds of "reviews" on the internet telling you that the researcher tried many different products and only a few worked. Don’t fall for these, either.
Acai and Weight-Loss Claims. There are hundreds of websites claiming acai berries will make you lose weight, but there is virtually no scientific evidence these berries will produce the extravagant claims made by these companies. Acai berries are powerful antioxidants; they may improve your health or reduce the effects of aging, but there is no real proof they make you lose weight. It's just a cheap marketing trick designed to sell product.
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