Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Are the Health Benefit of Acai Berries/Juice?

Acai Berries and Acai Berry Juice -- What Are the Health Benefits?

Have you heard about the acai berry? Do you want to know more about the health benefits of acai berries and berry juice?
Acai berries are highly touted by marketers who say it’s one of the elite superfoods with anti-aging and weight loss properties. But do scientific studies support these claims of acai benefits?

What is the acai berry?
The acai berry is an inch-long reddish, purple fruit. It comes from the acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea), which is native to Central and South America. It is a relative of the blueberry, cranberry, and other dark purple fruits.

Research on the acai berry has focused on its possible antioxidant activity. Theoretically, that activity may help prevent diseases caused by oxidative stress such as heart disease and cancer.

Is the acai berry healthy?
Acai contains several substances called anthocyanins and flavonoids.

The word anthocyanin comes from two Greek words meaning “plant” and “blue.” Anthocyanins are responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues in many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Foods that are richest in anthocyanins -- such as blueberries, red grapes, red wine, and acai -- are very strongly colored, ranging from deep purple to black.

Anthocyanins and flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help defend the body against life's stressors. They also play a role in the body's cell protection system. Free radicals are harmful byproducts produced by the body. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants may interfere with aging and the disease process by neutralizing free radicals.

By lessening the destructive power of free radicals, antioxidants may help reduce the risk of some diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Are there known health benefits of acai berries?
Some studies show that acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity with even more antioxidant content than cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or blueberry. Studies are ongoing.

Can acai berries boost weight loss?
Scientists are learning more about the functional power of superfoods, such as the acai berry. Although acai is touted in some weight loss products, few studies have tested the benefit of acai in promoting weight loss.

For now, plenty of research supports eating a diet rich in antioxidants. There’s no doubt that berries and other fruits are a key part of any healthy diet promoting weight loss. The jury’s still out on whether there is something special about acai’s ability to shed excess pounds.

Do acai berries and acai juice have any side effects?
If you have pollen allergies or have a known hypersensitivity to acai or similar berries, you may want to avoid this fruit. When eaten in moderate amounts, though, acai is likely safe.

reprinted from: WebMD Medical Reference

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