By Josh Gwatkin
The Acai Berry is a reddish-purple berry that comes from the Central and South American Acai palm tree. There is substantial evidence that would be classified as anecdotal in regards to the healing capabilities of these berries. This could be said about almost all plant-based natural medicine, however, there is no money in plant cures, so the pharmaceutical industry does not throw money at studies looking for therapeutic qualities of plant-based medicine. Although the scientific evidence showing the healing effects of this berry is not vast, there are studies that do show its aptitude for healing.
Let's dive right in and see what makes these berries belong in the Super-foods category.
Antioxidants are one of the most important compounds for maintaining optimal health. They are also the most tested compound found in Acai Berries, making this section the biggest in the article, by far. What makes antioxidants so important is that they are scavengers, meaning that they eat free radicals. More and more doctors are starting to understand the damage free radicals cause to our cells leads to a number of our current ailments. The most alarming being cancer!
A 2006 study showed Acai Berries' very high antioxidant level and their ability to destroy many kinds of free radicals. In 2008, Dr. Michael Greger, made a short video (for his site nutritionfacts.org) about the top antioxidant foods per serving. At that time, Acai berries simply had no equal. In fact, they were almost double Goji Berries, the second place finisher. Since this video, the Acai Berry has lost its crown as the food with the most antioxidant content. However, it is still very close to the top of the list.
The antioxidant prowess of Acai Berries doesn't stop at mopping up free radicals. Many cosmetic products use Acai Berries because the antioxidants have fantastic anti-aging qualities.
A 12 week study on pain relief, range of motion, and inflammation capabilities of Acai Berries found that, as the antioxidant levels rose, the patients started experiencing pain relief, better range of motion and what the study called "activities of daily living" improved as well. The study also found that the inflammation "was reduced at 12 weeks, but this change did not reach statistical significance." However, this may be because the study was too short; another study on Acai Berries and inflammation showed that the berries protected human vascular endothelial cells against glucose-induced oxidative stress and inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the berries also help with heart health. Acai Berries are extremely high in anthocyanins, which lowers cholesterol levels in the blood stream, prevents blood clots, improves overall blood circulation and relaxes the blood vessels. The ability to help circulation has lead many to use the berries for erectile dysfunction, as well.
There has also been a cancer fighting study conducted on the antioxidant found in Acai Berries, called polyphenols. The study took human leukemia cells and dripped a concentration of Acai Berries polyphenols (that would be expected in the bloodstream after consuming Acai Berries) on top of the cell. The study resulted in a drastic levels of cell death. This is an awesome discovery because leukemia is a particularly dangerous form of cancer.
The berries are a good source of Vitamin A, an antioxidant that is has an essential role in maintaining health. It is vital for bone growth, as well as reproduction, ocular and immune system health. Its antimicrobial properties make it great at treating skin conditions such as acne and it has also been used to treat things like measles.
The level of Vitamin C in Acai Berries is also very good.
Polysaccharides are carbohydrates found in Acai Berries that help the innate immune system, the bodies first line of defense against pathogens such as viruses, fungus, and bacterium. This 2011 study, showed that Polysaccharides help white blood cells to better destroy invading yeast cells.
For many years I have heard people talking about Acai Berries ability to stimulate weight loss. There has not been any studies on this (at least that I have found) but, the berries have a high fiber content (about 14 grams per 100mg of berry powder) which studies have shown aids weight loss.
There is evidence that fiber also may help with, or reduce the risk of: blood sugar control, heart health, stroke, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, skin health, and diverticulitis (inflammation in the intestine).
MEDIUM CHAIN FATTY ACIDS
Acai Berries have a high level of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) like oleic acid and linoleic acid. Those of you that read my article on coconut oil know that MCFA are what gave coconut oils its healing powers. MCFA are amino acids that are quickly digested in the stomach and sent to the liver to be turned into energy. It stimulates fat burning and energy exposure, which also lends credibility to the weight loss claims.
The MCFA in coconut oil were able to lower the bad LDL cholesterol while rising the good HDL cholesterol. So, I was not at all surprised to find this study on Acai Berries, which shows the same results. The participants also experienced a reduction in fasting glucose and insulin levels after the 30 day treatment, showing its possible ability to help with type 2 diabetes.
MCFA are very antimicrobial, as well.
In conclusion, Acai Berries health benefits are many. Although, they are a bit on the expensive side but, in my opinion, the benefits make them well worth it. The way I see it, you are investing in your health by consuming superfoods, which will save you money in the long run by preventing future ailments-- that will undoubting cost you money.
After all, most of us keep the fluid levels in our cars at optimum levels and replace them often-- so it runs optimally.
Why would we not do the same for our bodies?