Acai Berries Health Benefits
Acai berries health benefits include being a potential help for men who have BPH, as prevention for prostate cancer, and for overall prostate health. These health benefits are largely associated with the fact that acai berries are an exceptional source of antioxidants and a good source of polyphenols, fiber, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and plant sterols.
Acai berries are the reddish, purple fruit of the acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea), and rich sources of antioxidants called anthocyanins and flavonoids, which fight free radicals associated with aging, cancer, and other diseases. Among the plant sterols found in acai berries is beta-sitosterol,which is a powerful player in fighting BPH. Acai berries health benefits also include the fact that these fruits have a higher antioxidant capacity than do other berries, such as cranberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
According to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values, which is a measure of antioxidant power developed by the National Institute on Aging in the National Institutes of Health, acai fruit pulp/skin powder has the highest ORAC value (102,700) of any fruit or vegetable.
Here are some acai berries health benefits that are supported by scientific studies.
Acai Berries Health Benefits
Acai berries health benefits were explored in a pilot study using acai fruit pulp in overweight people. Ten overweight adults were assigned to take 100 mg acai pulp twice daily for one month. Researchers measured levels of fasting plasma glucose, insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides, nitric oxide metabolites (in exhaled breath), and high sensitivity C-reactive protein.
Compared to baseline, the participants had reductions in levels of fasting glucose, insulin, and total cholesterol by the end of the study. Borderline significant reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were also recorded. The study’s authors concluded that “consumption of acai fruit pulp reduced levels of selected markers of metabolic disease risk in overweight adults, indicating that further studies are warranted.” (Udani 2011)
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry reported on acai berries health benefits regarding their antioxidant capacity. Researchers used freeze-dried acai fruit pulp/skin powder and evaluated it using various tests and free radical sources. They discovered acai had exceptional activity against superoxide; in fact, it had the highest of any food reported to date (2006) against superoxide when using the ORAC test. Other tests showed acai was able to “enter human cells in a fully functional form and to perform an oxygen quenching function at very low doses.” Acai also demonstrated potential to inhibit the inflammatory factors cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2. (Schauss 2006)
In Brazil, researchers explored the antioxidant potential and cholesterol-lowering effects of acai pulp in rats fed a standard (control) diet or a high cholesterol diet supplemented with acai pulp (2%) for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, the blood and livers of the rats were examined for signs of oxidative stress and lipid profiles.
Investigators found increased levels of total and LDL cholesterol and decreased levels of HDL cholesterol in rats that consumed the high cholesterol diet. However, supplementing the high-cholesterol diet with acai reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. Levels of protein carbonyl and sulfhydryl groups were also lowered by acai in animals that received the control or high-cholesterol diet. Acai consumption was associated with a significant reduction in superoxide dismutase activity only in the rats on a high-cholesterol diet. According to the study’s authors this finding indicated “an association between diet and acai treatment.” (de Souza 2010)
Acai berries health benefits also include an ability to inhibit tumor progression in esophageal cancer. Rats were treated with a cancer-causing agent for 5 weeks. Then the animals were placed on diets that contained 5 percent of one of the following berries until the end of the study: acai, black raspberries, blueberries, noni, red raspberries, strawberries, or wolfberries.
All the berries were about equally effective in inhibiting progression of esophageal tumors despite differences in the levels of anthocyanins and ellagitannins in the different berries. (Stoner 2010)
How To Take Acai
Acai is available as pills, capsules, powder, juice/puree, and frozen. If possible, buy organic acai products and only buy from reputable companies. Consult your healthcare provider about proper dosing so you can enjoy acai berries health benefits.
De Souza MO et al. Diet supplementation with acai (Euterpe oleracea mart) pulp improves biomarkers of oxidative stress and the serum lipid profile in rats. Nutrition 2010 Jul-Aug; 26(7-8): 804-10
ORAC values: http://oracvalues.com/
Schauss AG et al. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (acai). J Agric Food Chem 2006 Nov 1; 54(22): 8604-10
Stoner GD et al. Multiple berry types prevent N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine-induced esophageal cancer in rats. Pharm Res 2010 Jun; 27(6): 1138-45
Udani JK et al. Effects of acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: a pilot study. Nutr J 2011 May 12; 10(1): 45