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Acai Berries - Nutrition And Health Benefits

Updated on October 6, 2016
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years breeding layer and broiler parents.

acai berries
acai berries | Source

Acai Palms

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A grove of Acai palms in Brazil
Source
A grove of Acai palms in Brazil
A grove of Acai palms in Brazil | Source

About Acai Palm


Latin Name : Euterpe oleracea.

The fruits of the Acai palm is the Acai berry. Acai is pronounced as ah - sigh - ee. The name of this fruit is derived from the indigenous Brazilian language 'Tup' and it means 'the fruit that cries' or 'expels water'. This is strange considering the fact that almost 80% of the acai fruit is composed of the seed. Maybe the extreme perishable nature of the fruit gives it its name. The fruit spoils if kept for more than a day.

The Acai palm is native to Central and South America and grows abundantly in the Brazilian rainforests growing mainly in swamps and flood plains The tree grows to a height of over 80 feet though it is common to see them grow from 30 to 50 feet too. The stem or trunk of the tree is quite slender as compared to its height. The leaves are almost 10 feet long.

The Acai palm is mainly grown for its fruit and the palm hearts. The E. oleracea is primarily grown for the berry fruits while another species, E. edulis is grown for the hearts of palm. Hearts of palm are the inner core of the growing bud that are exposed when the outer bark is removed. This heart of palm is relished as a vegetarian delicacy.

The Acai palm bears fruit twice a year. It is also called "The tree of life".

Acai Berries

Source

The Acai Fruit


The Acai fruit is a small blueberry sized purple black drupe that grows on several branched panicles each bearing hundreds of fruits. Acai tastes like a blend of red wine and chocolates.

Since the fruit is much perishable it cannot be transported over long distances and for this reason its pulp is frozen. It is also sold as juice, beverages and smoothies.

It is also used in dietary supplements and tablets, capsules, energy bars made from it are also available. It is also used in cosmetics.

The amazon rainforest is considered the "lungs of the world" as it is the source of about 20% of the Earth's oxygen. It is home to more than half of the Earth's estimated 10 million species of plants and animals.

Native Amazon people routinely consume about 2000 of the 3000 known rainforest fruits of which Acai is one. Acai constitutes a large part, almost 40%, of the diet of theses people.

In Brazil, Acai is sold by vendors on beaches and served like frozen icecream.

Acai has been touted as a cure all superfood or a superfruit and is heavily marketed in the U.S. as a health food. However, Acai berries still have not been added to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

This fact apart, I will try to list the health benefits of Acai fruit along with references I have found while researching on this topic.

Dr. Perricone, the world renowned healthy aging expert, a board certified dermatologist and award winning inventor, rates Acai as the number one superfood. He mentions it as such in his book, "The Perricone Promise".

Acai Pulp

Source

Acai Berries Nutrition


  • Acai pulp has 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10 to 30 times more antioxidants than red wine. Its concentration of antioxidants is 5 times more than that of Gingko Biloba, the brain herb.
  • Acai is high in dietary fiber. 100 grams of acai berry contains,12 mg of calcium, 11.8 mg of iron, 2.4 g of proteins, 9 mg of vitamin C, 58 mg of phosphorus, 1000 IU Vitamin A, 0.36 mg Vitamin B1, 0.01 mg Vitamin B2 and 0.40 mg Vitamin B3,
  • Acai contains a good amounts of plant sterols - the phytosterols.
  • Acai contains high amounts of essential fatty acids, the healthy fat constitute 1/3 of the berry. Of this 74% are the healthy omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 fats.
  • Acai has the highest ORAC value among all edible fruits which means it has the highest concentration of antioxidants.
  • It is low in sugar.
  • Acai is extremely rich in vegetable protein which is digested easily and transported faster than the proteins in milk or meat.

Acai Brazilian Dish

A popular Brazalian dish
A popular Brazalian dish | Source

Acai Berries Health Benefits


The high amounts of dietary fiber corrects digestive and colon problems and is therefore a boon those with weak digestion like the elderly.

Acai makes the eyes healthy, improves vision, especially night vision and reduces risk of macular degeneration.

It improves skin tone, keeps skin younger and healthier, increases energy and vitality.

Because of its dietary fiber, the antioxidants' anti inflammatory benefits and the healthy unsaturated omega fatty acids, it lowers cholesterol levels and reduces risk of hypertension, blood clots, relax blood vessels, prevent atherosclerosis, heart disease and cancer.

The phytosterols reduce prostate enlargement. It also improves the health of ovaries and prevents breast cancer.

The omega fatty acids keep the nervous system healthy and help in cell regeneration. They help to repair and rejuvenate muscles after exercise. It is therefore a favorite with Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters and surfers.

Acai berries improve libido and is called Amazon's viagra.

It reduces fasting blood glucose and insulin levels.

A study done by the University of florida and reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reveals that Acai berries triggered a self destructive response in up to 86% of the cancer cells.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

References

http://agnews.tamu.edu/showstory.php?id=764
http://news.ufl.edu/2006/01/12/berries/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A7a%C3%AD_palm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21486000
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18220345
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17061840
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20232121
"Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future"; David Wolfe; 2009
"A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for the Body and Spirit"; Stephanie Rose Bird; 2009
http://www.nutritionj.com/content/10/1/45
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf8007037

The acai berry takes Brazil by storm

The Power of Acai

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Mary-thanks for stopping by.

      @Stephanie-glad you found some useful info in here. Thanks for visisting.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      As much as I have eaten and worked with dried and powdered acai, I have never seen what they looked like fresh. So thanks for the picture. I have a picture of them in one of my herbal books, but it is just of the berried and not the whole plant.

      A ton of useful information as usual. I'm glad this was at the top of the hub feed when I dropped in today!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Well, this at least explains all the hype about Acai! As Bill said it has become very popular in the US in the last five years and now seems to be in everything!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • profile image

      Jinal 

      5 years ago

      Very good... but where it is available in Mumbai, India

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Crystal-you are right. Acai berries have awesome health benefits. Thanks for stopping by.

      @Sheila-Glad you like the info. Thanks for visiting.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I have heard many good things about the acai berry recently and you have provided so much detailed information here! I have not tried acai juice as of yet, but there are several products that include it here. I will be trying it very soon. Voting up, useful and interesting! :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      I've heard there are many health benefits to consuming acai berries, but have never tried them. Superfood is the new buzzword and it appears acai berries qualify. Great job.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Sid, thanks for reading and sharing.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @ Carol - Thanks for reading and sharing.

      @ Devika - Glad you like the info. Thanks.

      @ Jo - Thanks for stopping by.

      @ Victoria - Thanks.

    • VictoriaSheffield profile image

      Author Victoria Sheffield 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      great hub!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      rajan, what an amazing fruit!!.... I've seen the Acai berry ads for dieting and I knew it was listed as a super food, but the nutritional benefits is truly awesome.

      Another brilliant write.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! Incredible information on South American Berries, always useful titles from you keep on writing and sharing your helpful knowledge

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I just did an article for another site on this fruit. Many benefits for sure. There are just so many good things out there to improve our health that does not include prescription drugs. Excellent as always. Up and Share.

    • profile image

      sid76 

      5 years ago

      Awesome hub rajan. Very useful and informative. Sharing it facebook,twitter and pinterest and voted up too!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks Aupriann. Actually your comment had gone into the spam folder and I just saw it now, hence the delay in acknowledging the comment.

      I'm glad you like the info. Thanks.

    • Aupriann Myers profile image

      Aupriann Myers 

      5 years ago from WASHINGTON

      I seriously enjoyed this hub. I am always looking for more natural energy sources, vitamin sources, and healthy life choices. I never knew the acai berry was so beneficial. Thank you so much.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Mike, Acai berry has been in the news for quite sometime now. It is indeed surprising that a berry so small has such amazing benefits.

      Thanks for the read and share.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very interesting rajan. Here in the state the Acai berry has become quite popular over the last 5 years or so. We see it a lot now in various juices. As with many fruits I knew it was good for us but not to this extent. It's amazing what nature has provided for us that is actually very good for us. Great job. Voting up and sharing.

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