The Acai Berry
The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) berry is a 2.5 centimetre-long roseate produce. It is derived from the acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea), which can be found in Central and South America. Acai berries are exceedingly publicised by vendors as one of the leading ‘super-foods’, due to its alleged anti-aging and weight loss effects. The acai berry can even be found in cosmetics and beauty merchandise.
The question is, do scientific studies support these claims? Well, examination of the acai berry has dealt mainly with its potential antioxidant doings. Hypothetically, said activity may well aid in the deterrence of ailments instigated by oxidative strain, namely the families pertaining to heart disease and cancer. The acai berry holds a number of elements termed anthocyanins and flavonoids. Both of these are potent anti-oxidants that assist in the defence against the body’s stressors, specifically free radicals. Furthermore, they play a part in supporting the body’s immune system against foreign contagions. Free radicals are damaging by-products fashioned (as a necessity) by the body, and consuming nourishment with large amounts of anti-oxidants may well hinder the progression of age and disease via the neutralisation of said free radicals. By reducing the incidence of the deleterious effects of free radicals, anti-oxidants may prolong one’s life span.
Note that the word ‘may’ and its derivatives have been used repeatedly. Well, this is because a large portion of this information is grounded in theory. So, are there any known health benefits? Well, selected studies conducted have shown that its pulp contains exceptionally high levels of anti-oxidants, surpassing the likes of cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. It is important to note that more studies are required to solidify these suggested paybacks. Individuals consume acai berries to address numerous health disorders, however thus far, they have no distinct benefit that cannot be found in the other aforementioned fruits.
So, can these berries boost weight loss? It would seem that few investigations have confirmed the value of acai in encouraging weight loss. Despite this issue, abundant research upholds the notion of a diet rich in anti-oxidants. As can be seen, although there is much ‘hype’ regarding this fruit (including a diet centred on it!), there is little research to indicate that it has any ‘miraculous’ properties that cannot be found in other citrus fruits.
At the end of the day, the choice of which citrus fruit to consume comes down to matter of preference (i.e. taste, consistency, seeds vs. no seeds, and acidity).
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- Schauss, A. Phytochemical and nutrient composition of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006; 54:8598.
- Schreckinger, ME. Berries from South America: A comprehensive review on chemistry, health potential, and commercialization. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2010; 13:233.
- Seeram, N. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Dec.13, 2006.