What is Acai Berry
Acai – The Superstar of Superfruits!
Exotic fruits with high antioxidant strength and rich nutrient content have become increasingly popular with American consumers searching for natural healthy foods.
A number of these rare fruits including noni, mangosteen, and Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee), are being categorized as “superfruits” along with more common fruits such as blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Not everyone agrees that noni and mangosteen have earned superfruit status, but Acai seems to be the real deal.
In fact, this exciting superfruit is usually #1 on every list.
The acai berry grows in clusters on palmberry trees [Euterpe oleraceae] found primarily in the flood plains of the Amazon River. Palmberry trees also grow in French Guyana, Panama and Trinidad.
The small dark purple berries are about the size of blueberries when fully ripe. A thin layer of edible pulp surrounds a large pit.
Unlike the bitter tasting noni fruit, the acai berry is said to be delicious with rich berry flavors and overtones of chocolate.
What’s in Acai?
This color-intense fruit contains a variety of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavonoid-related compounds including catechin, quercetin, favonols, proanthocyanidins, and trans-reseveratrol. Acai also has B-carotene, vitamins C, D, E, and B-complex nutrients. It contains 7 essential minerals – calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. If that isn’t enough, it is also rich in amino and essential fatty acids. Acai could be one of the most complete foods in the world. Is it any wonder it tops most of the superfruit lists?
Most of the potential health benefits of Acai can be traced to its rich antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances in plants that protect the body from free radicals that interfere with normal cellular functions. Free radicals abound in our modern world in the form of pollutants, food additives, pesticides, cigarette smoke, viruses, and bacteria. Damage by unchecked free-radical compounds can manifest as serious illnesses. For example, cancer is now known to be associated with free-radical damage to healthy cellular DNA. Because antioxidants protect the body from these free radicals, they can help combat heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. The powerful antioxidants in the acai berry may also have the potential to help slow the aging process.
Freeze-dried acai fruit powder has undergone several assays to assess its antioxidant capacity. One of the assays considered to be a standard measure of antioxidant capacity is known as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This test measures how much a particular food can inhibit free radical activity. Numerous foods have been tested for ORAC value, but freeze-dried acai powder has the highest ORAC activity of any fruit or vegetable. In fact, Acai’s antioxidant properties are said to be 10 times greater than red grapes and 10 to 30 times greater than red wine.