Let’s all let out a big sigh for acai (ay-sigh-ee) berries! Grown only in the heart of the rainforests of Central and South America, these berries have the potential to decrease risk of heart attacks, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and even Parkinson’s disease. How do they do it? With their uber-high antioxidant content – up to 500% higher than blueberries. Sound like a food you want to get more of? You’re not alone. However, acai berries are highly perishable and only available fresh if you live in South America. Health food companies have brought acai to the world as frozen pulp, juices, capsules and powders available at most natural health food stores.
Acai berries need special treatment when bringing them to the mass market. Upon harvesting, the berries are immediately juiced or frozen as pulp to preserve the health properties before they deteriorate. Their sophisticated flavor, which has been described as similar to blueberries with a subtle hint of chocolate, is also preserved in this process. Indeed, the reddish purple acai berry is a lesser-known relative of the blueberry, cranberry and other richly colored fruits. The vivid color is the first clue to their antioxidant content.
Acai owes its color to several plant compounds called anthocyanins and flavonoids. Actually, anthocyanin comes from the Greek words meaning “plant” and “blue.” Anthocyanins are responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues in healthful fruits and vegetables as well as flowers. These powerful antioxidants help defend the plant against disease and predators, and, when we eat them, they do the same for us. In today’s busy world, our body’s need constant protection against life’s stressors that will accelerate aging and disease if left to wreck havoc. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants including acai berries neutralizes free radicals and slows aging and disease development.
Regular consumption of acai berries has a number of positive effects on your body, not just disease prevention. There’s some evidence that acai accelerates metabolic rate as it increases oxygenation of the blood. That’s great news if you’re looking to keep trim and slim. Because it increases circulation, acai may also improve cognitive abilities, the look of your skin, the clarity of your eyes and sexual performance. The pulp of this fruit is so loaded with vitamins, minerals and even essential fatty acids that it could possibly be one of the most nutritious foods in the world.