The Acai berries they are part of the exotic fruit that is becoming so fashionable in Europe and North America. This, specifically, is considered as the super fruit” of Brazilian origin, since it is grown in some parts of the Amazon region.
In recent years, it has increased in popularity around the world as it has become popular as a superfood with beneficial health properties for its vitamins and phytoactive components.
Therefore, we wanted to dedicate to acai berries an article focused on recent research that has studied this fruit and all its properties, at a nutritional level. Do you want to know what benefits the consumption of this exotic fruit can bring us?
Discovering acai berries
Acai berries are fruits of round and small type, with an average size of 2.5 cm. It develops in a tree known as açai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea), commonly grown in the rainforests of South and Central America. These fruits have a dark purple skin and a yellow flesh with a large seed in the central part.
Fruits that usually contain bone in the center, such as cherry, apricot, peach, olive, Paraguayan, etc., are known as drupes, but traditionally acai berries have been classified as berries. In traditional gastronomy it is usually consumed as a companion to the main course.
The main handicap is that acai berries need a light processed to be edible, as they contain very hard skin. The usual thing is to crush everything and create a characteristic paste and sweet taste, similar to that of the blackberry.
Beneficial properties of acai berries
High nutrient content
Generally, exotic fruits usually contain a high ratio of nutrients, especially fiber, vitamins and minerals. Acai berries offer a rather interesting nutritional profile. However, they contain a higher concentration of fats than other fruits, but with low sugar content.
To get an idea, the consumption of 100 grams of acai berry provides the following nutritional reference:
- Energy: 70
- Fats: 5 grams
- Saturated fats: 1.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Sugars: 2 grams
- Fibre: 2 grams
Mineral and vitamin content
- Vitamin A: 15% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Calcium: 2% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
Although they are in lower concentration, the presence of oligolements such as iron, zinc, copper and manganese, among others, has also been analyzed.
At the level of phytocompounds, the most interesting elements provided by the acai berry are anthocyanins, which originate the usual color of this fruit and those that provide a wide range of beneficial antioxidants for our body. This compound is also found in other fruits of this color, such as blueberry.
High concentration of antioxidants in acai berries
An interesting part of defining a superfood is its concentration in antioxidants. These elements should be consumed in large quantities throughout our lives, as they are able to reduce the activity of free radicals they cause. cellular oxidation. Among them, they can cause a wide range of coronary diseases, diabetes and cancer.
Acai berries are one of the fruits with the highest concentration of antioxidant elements, even in more than blueberries. Mainly, the antioxidant source of this exotic fruit comes from anthocyanins, including the following:
May reduce the presence of bad cholesterol
The first evaluation studies of acai berries with regarding cholesterol have been performed in animals, obtaining very favorable results, with a notable reduction in total cholesterol levels, and a increase in the amount considered good cholesterol (LDL). [See study]
Although still no human studies have been conducted, it is likely (but not certain) that the data can be replicated. Therefore, a range is opened to obtain extracts of the plant and enhance its consumption to reduce negative cholesterol.
Although there is no record of which elements of the nutritional profile of acai berries involved in the reduction of cholesterol, it is believed that it may be related to its high content of antioxidants such as anthocyanins and plant sterols.
Promotes brain activity
Several phytocompounds have been located in this exotic fruit interesting for reduce premature aging at the cognitive level. Although these primary studies have been conducted in animals, the polyphenols contained in acai berries offer protection to humans, as have been investigated in other fruits. [See study]
In general, these antioxidants have the ability to reduce the negative effects of cellular oxidation and chronic inflammation processes, which can affect learning capacity and cognitive memory in the medium term.
This has led to the conclusion that this fruit is able to improve memory and delayed disease related to memory loss.
Through a cellular process called autophagy generates the formation of new nerve connections which increase communication between brain cells. Over the years, these connections are lost and become less efficient.
Anticancer potential under study
The consumption of foods rich in fiber and antioxidant substances is a protective shield against the formation and spread of cancer cells. While there is a genetic part to this, eating habits and physical exercise have proven to be a potent measure of defense against these types of diseases.
It is still too early to make clear decisions, but the first studies carried out in a test tube on animals, has revealed an interesting protective effect against cancer of acai berries.
Current animal trials have shown a lower incidence of bladder and colon cancer, but more studies are needed to corroborate whether this effect can be extrapolated to humans. [See study]
How acai berries are consumed
Acai berries are climacteric fruits whose consumption has to be done quickly, since they have a very short life. This makes it not well known in the West for the transport problems it generates. They usually arrive in Europe in frozen or processed form (purees, powders, juices or dehydrated fruit).
Acai juice contains a large amount of antioxidants with low contribution of sugars, in the event that they are not added. However, at the nutritional level, fresh consumption is recommended, as it offers a higher concentration of antioxidants and fiber.
Possible drawbacks and side effects
Phytosterols and plant compounds often offer conditions to create allergies and problems associated with their consumption. In general, it is considered a healthy fruit and with great potential in antioxidants, so there are very few drawbacks to incorporate the acai berry into our diet.
Its consumption is recommended given its nutritional profile, although it is still early to confirm most of the trials that have been shown in this article, at least in the long term and in humans. However, most of them are very promising.