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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Is this Brazilian berry the ultimate antioxidant?

This Purple Brazilian Berry
Has More than 5 Times the Antioxidants
Of Blueberries

You may have noticed the explosion of products featuring acai juice or powder that have hit the U.S. markets in recent years.
They're hard to miss given that this fruit has been packaged and sold in various pills, powders, juices, nutrition bars, and shakes.
The acai berry (pronounced ah-SAH'-ee) is an inch-long, dark purple fruit of the acai palm tree, which is native to Central and South America. Some studies show that acai fruit pulp is even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries.
This antioxidant bonanza is the main reason why acai berries have gotten such good press. All hype aside, there really is evidence this is a super berry. Let's take a look. . .
Continued below…

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Many folks are convinced the nutrients in acai berries can help you lose weight, boost your immune system, and slow down the aging process. Some studies suggest it might be a natural wonder when it comes to fighting cancer, too.
In one study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers from the University of Florida showed that acai berry extracts triggered a self-destructive response (apoptosis) in up to 86 percent of leukemia cells tested in vitro (i.e. in a lab culture).
Stephen Talcott, assistant professor with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said "acai berries are already considered one of the richest fruit sources of antioxidants. This study was an important step toward learning what people may gain from using beverages, dietary supplements or other products made with the berries."
Although this was only a cell-culture model, Talcott said "compounds that show good activity against cancer cells in a model system are most likely to have beneficial effects in our bodies."
So what's acai got that
other berries don't?
Acai berries are relatives of blueberries and cranberries. These close relatives contain nutrients similar to those in acai—it's just that acai berries have more bounteous amounts.
A study conducted by the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center reported that freeze-dried acai berries have the highest antioxidant activity of any food reported to date!
In fact, the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score—a measure of a food's antioxidant power—is 167 in acai berries. By comparison, the ORAC score is 32 for blueberries and 14 for apples.
This superfruit contains anthocyanins and flavonoids, two powerful classes of antioxidants that can help:
  • Block the harmful effects of free radicals
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Protect your body from environmental stress (e.g. pollution and traffic)
  • Lower your risk of heart disease and cancer—and possibly slow the spread of cancer cells!
The idea that acai is an effective free radical blocker is no small thing. Here's why…
Acai helps protect you from
free-radical health destroyers!
Free radicals form in your body as you metabolize food and through other natural body functions.
They are also created from pollutants in the air, sun exposure, eating processed foods, smoking, and elevated stress.
If your body has low levels of antioxidants or antioxidant enzymes, factors like these can cause you to become more susceptible to developing oxidative stress. This is what destroys or damages cells—and contributes to the development of major diseases.
Strangely enough, despite eating many foods with a high fat and sugar content—people in France tend to have a lower incidence of heart disease.
Although this has baffled the medical community for decades, many people believe that the French have healthier hearts because they drink a lot of red wine with meals.
The sort of anthocyanin antioxidants in acai berries are also found in red wine grapes. But here's the kicker…
Acai berries contain as much as 10 to 30 times the antioxidant capacity of red wine grapes! If you're like me and already take a lot of antioxidants – in both foods and supplements – you may be wondering, "How much is enough?"
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you should be consuming 3,000 ORAC units of fruits and/or vegetables a day. Given the government's hostility to natural medicine, that's probably a lowball estimate.
Unfortunately, many of us only get about 1,000 to 1,200 ORAC units per day.
To achieve the recommended ORAC values, you need to eat at least 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
Many folks object to this recommendation because they don't like the taste of some vegetables. Others don't want to deal with the peeling, cutting and other prep work.
But if you want to reap the health benefits, you can purchase fruit and vegetable supplements in powdered form that you could use to make delicious smoothies to drink.
And you can easily find products that contain acai berries at most nutritional supplement stores.
It won't hurt to incorporate some form of this great-tasting berry in your quest for optimal health!

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