Acai Berry has been one of the most hyped superfoods in recent years, but does Acai really have health benefits? Acai Berries grow on a palm tree in the Brazilian rain forest, and have been a part of Brazilian diets and traditional medicine for centuries. This article examines the health benefits of Acai, as well as the health dangers of Acai, and suggests easy ways to include this superfood in your diet.
Health Benefits of Acai
Acai’s biggest power is its antioxidant level. Antioxidants help to strengthen cells against attacks from viruses and other microbial invaders, and Acai Berries contain more antioxidants than any other berry. Acai can strengthen your immune system and slow the effects of aging, as well as improve your energy and overall sense of well-being. The antioxidant properties of Acai may even help to prevent or fight cancer. According to a study published in Pharmaceutical Research, rats who were fed Acai Berries and then exposed to carcinogens were less likely to develop cancer than the control group. (Other berries, including blueberry and Noni showed similar preventative effects in this study.) In another study by the University of Florida, leukemia cancer cells actually self-destructed when coming into contact with Acai. Acai has not been tested as a cancer cure in humans, and factors such as metabolism and absorption could alter the effects of Acai on cancer cells when eaten. In addition to antioxidants, Acai Berries also contain trace minerals and amino acids, including oleic acid, which helps omega-3s penetrate cell membranes. In Brazil, Acai is touted as an energizing food, and Acai oil is used in traditional diarrhea remedies.
Health Dangers of Acai
Allergies to Acai are rare, but if you have an allergy to other types of berries, or to pollen, you may also be allergic to Acai. Like any other fruit or berry, large amounts of Acai Berry may cause diarrhea. Because Acai is included in many mixtures, including cereals, snack bars and beverages, it is important to check labels for any ingredients you may be sensitive to. Also, in mixtures, the amount of Acai may be so small that its health benefits are minimal. Although Acai Berry has been advertised as a weight loss remedy, there is no scientific support for this claim, and many companies claiming to sell Acai as a weight loss remedy have proven to be scams. Always remember that the health benefits of Acai Berry cannot make up for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle. Adding superfoods to your diet should be part of a holistic approach to bettering your health that includes balanced nutrition, reasonable exercise and stress management.
Ideas for Adding Acai Berry to Your Diet
Acai is readily available at many grocery stores and most natural health food stores. You will find foods and beverages already supplemented with Acai, and you can also purchase Acai powder, Acai juice, and Acai supplement pills. Below are some ideas for adding this superfood to your diet.
*Choose products that already include Acai (Watch out for cereals or smoothies that are high in calories or sugar!)
*Add Acai powder to your smoothies.
*Mix Acai powder into salad dressing.
*Add Acai powder to muffin mix.
*Include Acai powder in waffle or pancake mix.
*Mix Acai pulp or Acai puree with yogurt.
*Add Acai juice to oatmeal.
*Make Acai Berry Bread (click here for a unique recipe!)
AcaiBerrySite.com; “What is Acai Berry?” http://acaiberrysite.com/what-is-acai/
CBS News; Acai Berries: Really a Superfood?”; 2010 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/08/05/earlyshow/health/main6745510.shtml
eHow.com; “Acai-Berry Dangers; Nicole Vulcan”; 2009 http://www.ehow.com/about_5394675_acaiberry-dangers.html
Natural News; “Study Shows Acai Berry May Kill Cancer Cells”; Sheryl Walters; 2009 http://www.naturalnews.com/025403_acai_cancer_berries.html
Oprah.com; “Acai: Dr. Perricone’s No. 1 Superfood”; 2005 http://www.oprah.com/health/Acai-Dr-Perricones-No-1-Superfood
Pharmaceutical Research; “Multiple Berry Types Prevent N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine-Induced Esophageal Cancer in Rats”; Gary D Stoner, et al.; 2010 http://www.springerlink.com/content/xt54u66821780450/
University of Florida News; “Brazilian Berry Destroys Cancer Cells in Lab, UF Study Shows”; 2006 http://news.ufl.edu/2006/01/12/berries/