Is acai good for you? If you’ve been on the internet recently, you’ve probably seen the rise of acai berry products and wondered if they were really worth it. Acai berries come from palm trees in South America and have been used for centuries as part of traditional Brazilian medicine.
In recent years, health nuts have gotten behind acai and raved about how they can boost energy levels, help with digestion, and detoxify your body. But does it really do any of these things? Keep reading to find out if acai berries are good for you or if you should avoid them altogether!
I recently shared this Acai Strawberry Lemonade and it has been very popular, so please check it out!
What is Acai?
Acai or Acai berry is a fruit from the Acai palm tree native to the rain forests of central and South America.
They are dark purple, with a big seed occupying almost 80 percent of the fruit.
It is almost similar to a large blueberry in size, with a taste similar to blackberries but slightly bitter like dark chocolate.
While we’re used to buying fresh berries from the store, Acai may be slightly different, and getting them fresh is almost impossible. This is because Acai contains high-fat content that renders them rancid pretty fast. For this reason, they are immediately frozen after being picked, usually within 24hours of harvest.
They are first soaked to soften their skin, then mashed to form a puree, which is then frozen and exported throughout the world. You can also get Acai in powder form or juice.
Why is Acai Good for You?
1. It’s naturally high in omega fatty acids
Açaí berries are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. According to one study, consuming acai with a meal may help lower LDL cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease and other health conditions.
In addition, they are a good source of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are great additions to your diet, as they can also reduce your risk of developing heart disease, lowering inflammation, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and improve mood.
There’s a good reason many supplements include these fatty acids—and that’s because you should be eating them! A healthy way to get more of them is through acai. It has a high concentration of both. Just 1 oz (28 g) contains 3.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and 2.2 grams of omega-6 fats, which meet 14 percent and 17 percent of your daily needs respectively.
They also contain omega 9 fatty acids, perhaps the reason acai berries are so much-touted for. In fact, their fatty acid profile is almost similar to that of olive oil, which may help support brain function, improve heart health, and support healthy skin and hair.
2. Antioxidants from Acai Berry Assist Immune System
Açaí berries contain a number of nutrients. Most notably, these fruits are packed with antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They also contain carotenoids (like zeaxanthin) that help boost immunity.
These nutrients may be responsible for fighting off free radicals in your body. This is an important task because free radicals can damage cells, which can lead to cancer or other diseases. Additionally, antioxidants like anthocyanins may help reduce inflammation in your body.
Anthocyanin also works by scavenging free radicals that might cause different health issues.
Research shows that anthocyanin contains anticancer, ant diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-microbial properties and may prevent cardiovascular diseases.
While more research is needed on how acai berries specifically benefit your immune system, it’s likely that they have positive effects on helping fight off disease and infection.
The National Cancer Institute has even studied acai berries for their potential use in fighting cancer. Researchers have discovered that certain components found in acai berry pulp appear to inhibit cell growth, making them a potential treatment option for some types of cancers. This study indicates that further research is necessary before you can start consuming pills made from raw acai berry pulp; however, there’s evidence to suggest that these exotic fruits might be useful when added into your diet on a regular basis.
3. They are low in sugar
Unlike raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries which are generally sweet and may limit how much we take, Acai is naturally low in sugar.
Most people may sweeten it with honey, sugar, or agave, but considering that sugar is not good for your well-being, they make up for the best kind of sugarless addition in smoothies or acai bowls.
4. Controls blood sugar levels
As a high-fiber food, acai can help with diabetes management by slowing down digestion and causing a gradual release of glucose into your bloodstream to keep your energy levels steady and avoid spikes in blood sugar after meals.
High-fiber foods such as Acai also contain phytonutrients that can lower blood sugar levels by affecting insulin’s ability to function properly.
A study published in Diabetes Care revealed that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed more fiber from fruit had significantly lower fasting blood sugar levels than those who ate less fruit.
It’s also important to note that eating fiber-rich foods like acai will naturally make you feel fuller, helping you avoid snacking on sugary junk in between meals, all of which can spike your blood sugar.
5. They are high in nutrients
With high fat and low sugar content, the nutrition profile of Acai is quite interesting.
100 grams of frozen acai paste contains approximately:
Fat: 5 grams
Sugar: 2 grams
Saturated fats: 1.5 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 4 grams
Calcium: 2 percent of the recommended daily requirement
Vitamin A: 15 percent of the recommended daily requirement
6. They promote healthy skin
Acai’s high antioxidant profile may help prevent skin damage, improve skin elasticity, and promote good looks.
Aside from its antioxidant properties, acai pulp is packed with vitamins A and C, which help to keep your skin healthy. Vitamins A and C are essential nutrients that promote cell growth and support a strong immune system. Both have antioxidant effects and may help to protect your skin from sun damage.
Vitamin A is critical in helping form collagen, a protein that forms skin tissue, while vitamin C maintains healthy connective tissues and promotes wound healing. By keeping your skin healthy, you can reduce signs of aging, such as wrinkles and age spots.
Using acai oil and supplements may help reverse skin damage caused by oxidative stress such as sagginess, fine lines, dark spots, wrinkles, and discoloration. Acai oil may also help get rid of stretch marks, scars, or restore dry skin.
6. Stimulates healthy digestion
One of Acai’s main strengths is its rich phytonutrient profile. It boasts over 20 unique compounds, including anthocyanins, carotenoids, ellagic acid, and tannins, which have been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties.
Studies have shown that these compounds can help increase digestion, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients from other foods. Some of these studies even suggest that they may also reduce intestinal inflammation.
The berries are also a good source of fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion by keeping food moving through your digestive tract at a steady pace. Fiber also helps you feel full faster, so you eat less overall.
Additionally, Acai improves metabolism, which generally reduces bowel transit time, thus preventing the fermentation of foods in the stomach that may cause constipation, gas, and bloating.
Also, Acai is a natural colon cleanser that prevents the accumulation of waste materials that may stay lodged in the colon, causing digestive problems.
7. Protects against heart disease
Acai is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food which is beneficial in maintaining healthy heart functions.
It contains monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid in extra virgin olive oil that help promote cardiovascular health.
In one study, drinking acai juice significantly improved lipid profile, which is essential in maintaining a healthy heart.
8. Controls appetite
A 2011 study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice showed that women who consumed freeze-dried acai pulp three times a day felt fuller and consumed fewer calories at their next meal than those who didn’t eat acai. The researchers believe that acai has appetite-suppressing effects.
It contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is known to trigger serotonin production—the feel-good hormone that makes you feel calm and relaxed.
Serotonin also triggers hormones like leptin, which is known to regulate hunger and satiety. In addition, acai berries are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants have been shown to boost metabolism and help reduce inflammation, both of which can aid weight loss efforts.
9. Improves cognitive function
A high antioxidant diet generally improves brain function by preventing inflammation and free radicals from causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and inflammation are the leading causes of cognitive issues such as dementia and memory loss.
Additionally, clinical research shows that individuals who have a high concentration of anthocyanins in their bloodstream have greater cognitive function than those who do not.
10. Improves cholesterol
Acai could help improve blood cholesterol by decreasing LDL and total cholesterol. This can be partly associated with plant sterols in Acai that prevent cholesterol absorption by the body.
In one study, overweight individuals were put on Acai smoothies twice daily for a month, after which they did their blood work. This confirmed a decrease in both total and LDL cholesterol.
It is considered safe to consume unless one is allergic to it.
Also, since the Acai you’re likely to get in-store is pre-processed into a puree, powder, or juice form, always pay attention to the ingredients as some may contain added sugar, especially the puree.
Moreover, note that Acai juice may similarly be high in sugar and low in antioxidants if filtered.
The powder is usually recommended as it’s concentrated with fiber, fat, and other nutrients.
Nonetheless, the pureed form retains the taste and flavor and is the most preferred of the three forms.
Simply blend your frozen Acai puree with a liquid of your choices, such as water or plant milk, and use it as a base for the Acai bowl. Follow with preferred toppings such as nuts, seeds, and fruits.
It also makes a great addition to fruit mixes, beverages, and ice-cream.
11. Boosts mood and energy levels
Acai berries are a rich source of an amino acid called tryptophan, which converts to serotonin—the brain chemical that regulates mood. Since we need vitamin B6 to produce serotonin, including acai in your diet can offer you the needed vitamin B6 and the right amount.
A 2012 study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design found that anthocyanins—the compounds that give acai berries their color, can increase serotonin levels, which will make you feel happier and more energetic.
In addition to boosting your mood, try eating a cup of acai pulp every day to feel even better. Research has also found that people who consume more Vitamin C (found in acai) are less prone to seasonal affective disorder during long winter months.
Acai is a super berry native to the Amazon region. It’s high in nutrients, including fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and some vitamins, which gives it a good spot on the nutritional profile.
Acai has been shown to help fight cancer, improve digestion, fight inflammation, and protect against heart disease, among other benefits.
Since Acai is very fragile and easily perishable, it’s not exported in its fresh form. Instead, it’s processed into a powder, juice, or frozen puree.
There are no known side effects of consuming Acai; however, note that some products contain added sugar. So, read the labels carefully and buy from a reputable dealer.
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