Known today as a superfood or superfruit that is widely used in smoothies and smoothie bowls, acai has actually been around for centuries. It is a native food to the people of the Amazon — the only place in the world you’ll find acai berries that grow indigenously.
These, small dark purple berries have become famous for their health benefits and their earthy, rich flavor that falls between a mix of blackberries and dark chocolate. But how beneficial are they really, or is yet another diet culture fad to take the world by storm?
Explore the health benefits of acai in this blog for more.
A Little More on the Acai Berry
This humble little berry, which measures just 1-inch round, grows on the native acai palm tree found only in the rainforests of South and Central America. Acai berries are different in that they contain a seed, surrounded by yellow flesh, which is covered by indigo-colored skin.
Because they contain a seed and not a pit like other stone fruits, they actually fall into the drupe category. Either way, they’re known as berries across the globe today.
So, how are they eaten in their native land? Locals tend to soak them to remove the outer skin, and then mash it up to create a purple paste, which then accompanies many different meals.
Their fresh shelf-life is not very substantial, so in order for acai berries to survive shipping, they are generally frozen into an acai puree, pressed juice of ground into a powder. They can also be pressed to create acai oil, which is then used in different body and face cream products.
What Are the Legitimate Health Benefits of Acai?
Acai and all of its popular products today are not just a diet fad. This super berry holds a range of benefits that can boost your overall health — some of them include:
- They’re a Vitamin and Mineral Powerhouse
One of the main reasons why acai is so coveted today is because of its low sugar content, and healthy fat content. Per 100 grams of acai, you can supplement your diet with 5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 15% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, as well as 2% calcium. All of this packs a punch for only 70 calories, too.
The acai berry also contains other important minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, chromium, and more. This being said, none of this measures up to its plant compound benefits, most notably, anthocyanins.
- Acai Is Powerfully Antioxidant
Thanks to its high content of anthocyanins, the acai berry holds incredible antioxidant properties which help to remove and neutralize the effects of free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are harmful as they damage cells and DNA, which causes debilitating diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. By adding acai to your diet, you can counteract and prevent free radical damage.
These antioxidant properties are, of course, amazing for other functions in the body. This includes reducing inflammation, encouraging a healthy gut, improving the skin, and more.
- It Helps To Balance Cholesterol Levels
Acai is also brilliant for keeping your cholesterol levels balanced and in-check. This is because of the plant compounds that help to decrease LDL cholesterol levels. This type of cholesterol is known as ”bad” cholesterol which most doctors want to see at 100-129mg/dL or less.
Plant compounds such as anthocyanins also help to keep HDL cholesterol levels in check, while plant sterols in the acai berry help to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the body.
- Acai Has a Positive Effect on Brain Function
Due to the impressive antioxidant properties of acai, this in turn, has a positive effect on brain function. Antioxidants help to counteract the harmful effects of inflammation on brain tissue, as well as the oxidation of brain cells. Both inflammation and oxidation in the brain can impact learning and memory retention.
Additionally, acai assists with the housekeeping inside the brain. A more scientific term for this is autophagy where the brain clears out old or toxic cells that are no longer useful. As a result, this creates room for new nerve-endings to form.
- Acai Is Potentially Anti-Cancerous
Along with having a positive, anti-inflammatory effect in the body, anthocyanins help to fend off cancerous cells from developing. In short, they promote and support anticarcinogenic activities throughout your system.
Just some of these anticarcinogenic functions include the activation of detoxifying enzymes, detoxing the body of free radicals, inducing cancer cell death, and preventing cancer cell spread. Anthocyanins also help to remove harmful inflammation and keep cancer cell invasion at bay.
- It Boosts Your Immunity
If you’re looking to put the pep back in your step, then acai can help with that, too. Due to the acai berry’s high levels of the polyphenolic compound, this can prohibit the development of malfunctioning cells.
The antioxidant properties can also protect against stress in the body, detox it of harmful free radicals, and reduce instances of inflammation which can suppress immunity.
- Acai Promotes a Healthy Gut
Though they are small, acai berries comprise a decent amount of fiber. And if the human gut needs anything to function in a healthy manner, its fiber. Along with this, acai’s antioxidant effects also help to boost and promote good digestion.
In essence, acai berries act as a prebiotic in the colon. All-in-all, this helps to feed your gut with the healthy bacteria it needs to function at its optimum.
Find Daily Inspiration Through Knowledge
These are just a few of the many health benefits of acai, so if you’ve yet to try this amazing superfood, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon — because it’s popular for a reason!
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