Acai berry benefits have stormed into the collective consciousness of people from all over as intensive marketing has brought this dainty berry into the forefront of the modern health craze. This fruit however, has long been used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region for thousands of years to enhance their health and vitality.
The acai berry is the fruit of the acai palm, a species of palm tree in the genus Euterpe that naturally grows in the Central and South American regions. The acai palm usually grows up to a height of 20 to 30 meters, and grows mainly in the swamps and floodplains of a vast region spanning Belize to Brazil and Peru.
The acai berry is a round, small, dark purple drupe with a circumference of about an inch. An acai palm contains about three to eight bunches of the fruit, with each bunch containing about 800 to 1,000 berries. The fruit resembles a small grape or blueberry. The acai berry contains a single large seed with a diameter of about 0.25-0.40 inches. The mesocarp is pulpy and thin, with thickness of about 1 millimeter or less. It envelops the hard endocarp, which contains the seed. The seed takes up about 80% of the area of the acai berry.
The acai berry is said to start spoiling within 24 hours of being harvested, and is ought to be quickly turned into juice, wine, or freeze-dried and converted into powder form which can be made into acai tea. Acai berry products are currently sold in various forms, from tablets to capsules, juices to powders, as well as raw fruit.
The acai berry is said to be naturally low in sugar and its flavor is described as a mixture of red wine and chocolate.
An explosion in the global demand for the acai berry has been brought about by intense marketing for the fruit which promote its reported considerable antioxidant benefits and weight-loss capabilities. The marketers claim that the fruit provides a host of health benefits, from enhanced sexual performance, to improved digestion, to increased energy levels and improved heart rate. However, there have been studies made by certain public interest groups in the United States that suggest that while acai berries do possess some antioxidant and health-giving properties, many of the marketers have tended to exaggerate and over-hype the true acai berry benefits.
There have been studies conducted on the in vitro antioxidant content of the acai berry juice and these found that the fruit scored higher than orange juice and apple juice while being roughly equivalent to black cherry and cranberry juice. It was said to have scored lower than pomegranate juice, blueberry juice, grape juice and red wine.
Acai berry is said to be relatively rich in proteins, carbohydrates and the fatty acids like omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. The following are said to comprise the active constituents in the acai berry:
- vitamin A
- vitamin E
- glutamic acid
- aspartic acid
- antioxidant polyphenols
- antioxidant flavonoids
Individuals who are taking other herbs or food supplements ought to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking acai berry. Pregnant or nursing women should also consult with their physician before taking the fruit.
The following are the acai berry benefits that may be derived from eating this superfood:
Acai berry may impart higher energy levels.
Acai berry may help enhance strength and endurance.
Acai berry may help improve overall feeling of wellness.
Acai berry may help enhance the immune system.
Acai berry may have the potential to help prevent the development of cancer.
Acai berry may have the potential to help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Acai berry may help fight the damage from free radicals.
Acai berry may help aid in proper digestive function.