The acai berry has a complex nutritional make-up. Find out the details and how the different substances can help your body in many ways.
The small purple berry fruit from the Brazilian Amazon tastes like a combination of berries and chocolate. It contains essential fatty acids including omega-6 which is a proven brain booster. Extract of acai berries may also protect against cancer cells, according to one study. Owner of Juice Generation in New York City, Eric Helms, (you'll find Salma Hayek there), says acai smoothies are his top sellers. Sambazon Organic Frozen Acai Smoothie Packs are available at Whole Foods and other health food stores.
Why Acai is so Good for Us
Acai is loaded with antioxidants, about 30 times more than red wine. Antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals which may lead to cancer. Antioxidants act to stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals otherwise might cause. Acai also contains lots of fibre, healthy monounsaturated fats, iron and amino acids.
Acai Nutritional Information
AÃ§aÃ could possibly be the perfect food. It contains only 109 calories per 100g â less than a banana. In addition, it tastes amazing â like chocolate and berries â and is bursting with nutrition. AÃ§aÃ can help keep you looking young, prevent cancer and heart disease, increase brain function, reduce cholesterol and promote a healthy digestive system. How? AÃ§aÃ has more than 30 times the antioxidants of red wine, twice that of blueberries and about 11/2 times that of pomegranates.
A recent study has shown that aÃ§aÃ, rich in polyphenolics with anti-oxidant capacity, slowed the spread of leukemia cancer cells. There are 19g of soluble fibre per every 100g of aÃ§aÃ. AÃ§aÃ also contains Essential Fatty Acid â Omega-3 and Omega-6, which the body cannot create on its own and Fatty Acid Omega-9 And if that weren't enough to convince you that aÃ§aÃ is the most nutritious thing you can put in your mouth, in every 100g of aÃ§aÃ you get: 65.3mg of calcium, which promotes healthy bones and teeth, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and improves muscle and nerve function plus 5-7mg of iron, which is necessary for the transport of oxygen throughout the body and the prevention of anemia and ADHD.
Antioxidants (Your Body's Defence Force)
AÃ§aÃ has more than 30 times the antioxidants of red wine, twice that of blueberries and about 11/2 times that of pomegranates. Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that help prevent oxygen from reacting with other chemicals in cells, reactions that cause changes in cells that leads to premature aging and a variety of diseases, including cancer. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E, provitamin A (beta carotene), selenium, magnesium, copper, zinc and carotenoids (pigments that give fruits and vegetables their deep, rich colors).
Oxidation in fats and proteins injure cell membranes, affect immune cells, weaken blood vessels, modify protective enzymes - among others - and damage many other molecules. These injuries alter cell function and increase the risk of heart disease, strokes cancer and brain disease. Oxidation of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol, causes it to stick to blood vessel walls more readily, facilitating the formation of plaque in arteries.
The primary cause of oxidative damage in cells is the body's production of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that are produced in normal metabolism when oxygen is used to convert food to energy, such as during periods of exertion or when the body is fighting off illness. The unpaired electron makes a free radical unstable and highly reactive, trying to capture an electron that will stabilize it. By capturing electrons from nearby molecules, the free radical converts other molecules to free radicals, thereby initiating a destructive chain reaction. Free radical damage increases the risk of wrinkles, cataracts, blindness and arthritis. Antioxidants impede the oxidative cell damage that leads to aging and disease. For example, they donate electrons to free radicals to convert them into harmless molecules. In addition, antioxidants:
- Slow down the ageing process
- Maintain healthy blood vessels, which optimize blood flow to the heart and brain
- Defend against cancer-causing damage to DNA
- Reduce cholesterol levels
- Help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease
- Some antioxidants are made in our cells, but many essential antioxidants, including vitamins C, E and selenium, must be obtained from our diet.
- Grains, fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidant vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (botanicals).
Soluble Fibre in Acai
There are 19g of soluble fibre per every 100g of aÃ§aÃ. Soluble fibre is the part of plant foods that cannot be digested by humans, and that dissolves in water. Common sources of soluble fibre include oats, beans, squash, apples, citrus fruits, peas and many vegetables. A diet high in soluble fibre is beneficial because ingesting large amounts of soluble fibre, in conjunction with a low-fat diet, can:
- Decrease blood cholesterol, which is good for your heart
- Bind bile acids, which lowers cancer risk (particularly colon, rectal and breast cancer)
- Keep you regular by stimulating the nerves of the intestines, and adding bulk and water to stools
- Moderate levels of blood glucose by absorbing glucose from the small intestine, which can help prevent or control Type 2 Diabetes
Despite the beneficial effects of fibre, the average American digests only 11g of fibre a day, which is well below the 25-35g of daily fibre recommended by the USDA and the National Institute of Cancer. Fortunately, each 250g pack of AcaiTwistâ¢ contains 5g of fibre, which is more than 25% of the recommended daily allowance. So drink your way to a healthier you.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that produce blue, violet and red colors in flowers, fruits, leaves and other plant parts. They are highly valued for their antioxidant properties. Pigmented fruits are known to carry the highest amounts of anthocyanins, and Dr. Nicholas Perricone, one of the foremost anti-aging specialists, has pointed out that he has not seen a higher concentration of anthocyanins than that found in aÃ§aÃ.
Studies have shown anthocyanins' positive influence on a variety of health conditions, including:
- Protecting against cancer by inhibiting inflammation, cancerous changes to cells and tumor growth. Specifically, anthocyanins neutralize enzymes that destroy connective tissue, prevent oxidants from damaging connective tissue, and repair damaged proteins in blood-vessel walls. Under laboratory conditions, anthocyanins have been found to inhibit the growth of some human tumor cells.
- Supporting the nervous system, memory and brain by preventing tyrosine nitration (a neural growth and repair inhibitor). In fact, Cyanidin-3-glucoside, an anthocyanin contained in aÃ§aÃ, has been found to help in the reversal of age related neurological problems.
- Fighting atherosclerosis by preventing a key step in atherogenesis, the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
- Anthocyanins also protect the integrity of the endothelial cells that line blood-vessel walls, and help maintain micro-capillary integrity by stabilizing capillary walls. Thus, the antioxidant properties help prevent white blood cell adhesion to microcapillary walls, which can increase capillary wall permeability, reduce blood flow and often cause permanent capillary damage.
- Helping to minimize complications from diabetes by controlling the micro-vessel damage that results from high blood-sugar levels.
- A serious diabetic complication is retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. Retinopathy occurs when the body attempts to repair leaking, damaged capillaries, but does so by overproducing abnormal proteins. Not only do anthocyanins prevent capillaries from leaking in the first place, but they also prevent abnormal protein proliferation.
- Bolstering eyesight by improving night vision and reducing eye fatigue.
Phytosterols are plant sterols that are poorly absorbed by humans and reduce intestinal absorption of cholesterol. They are found in vegetables, fruits, vegetable oils and cereals. Studies have demonstrated as much as a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol in subjects who consumed 1.3g of phytosterols a day. It is believed that phytosterols function to:
- Interfere with the body's absorption of dietary cholesterol during digestion
- Promote the release of cholesterol, thus helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- These and other studies have further demonstrated that the beneficial effects of phytosterols can help:
- Prevent heart disease
- Ease enlarged prostates
- Calm inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis
- Control blood sugar in diabetes
Polyphenolics are compounds that are known to provide much of the flavour, colour and taste to fruits, vegetables and seeds. The various health benefits of polyphenolics have been associated with their antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.
Polyphenolics' antioxidant properties have been shown to slow down aging by providing protection against oxidation damage and they have been further linked to:
- Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases
- Reducing the effects of brain aging and improving memory
- Protecting the urinary tract against urinary tract infections
Essential Fatty Acids, Omegas 3, 6 and 9
Is all fat bad? No. Sometimes it is essential. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are derived from linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids. There are two primary EFAs: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Unfortunately, humans must obtain EFAs through diet alone because our bodies cannot synthesize them. There is a third fatty acid that also gets a lot of attention, Omega-9. Although a necessary fatty acid, it is considered "non-essential" because the body can manufacture a modest amount on its own, provided essential EFAs are present.
EFAs support the cardiovascular, immune, nervous and reproductive systems. The human body needs EFAs to make and repair cell membranes, thereby enabling cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. A primary function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandin, which regulates body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception and plays a role in immune functions by controlling inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection.
Studies of persons with diets high in EFAs have demonstrated that those individuals show:
- A decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improved brain function
- Higher blood levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (a promoter of cardiovascular health)
- Lower triglyceride levels
Other studies have shown that EFAs help with diabetes, strokes, depression, arthritis, circulation problems, allergies, ADHD, Alzheimer's, skin disorders, gout and others. In addition to EFAs, Omega-9 fatty acid has been shown to lower the risk of heart attacks and arteriosclerosis, and to aid in the prevention of cancer.
Overall, it's hard not be impressed by the nutritional make-up of acai.
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