Acai: Nature’s Superfood

By: Remy Hataishi; Second Year Project Manager

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Acai (ah-sigh-EE) has recently gained a lot of attention and is commonly marked as nature’s “superfood”. New food trends, such as the popular acai bowl, have made heavy contributions towards awareness of this fruit’s health benefits. Acai bowls can be a snack or a light meal and usually contains acai, topped with various ingredients such as granola, coconut flakes, and even other fruit. In addition to smoothies and juices, acai can be found in a freeze-dried powder form or tablet form.

Originating from South America, acai is a type of berry that is rich in fiber, healthy fats (HDL) and antioxidants. Antioxidants are a type of molecule that can help to decrease the amount of free radicals in our body. As part of the natural aging process, our body produces free radicals, which are some of the chemicals that are the root of many diseases such as cancer.

Many health claims have been made that acai alleviates various acute and chronic health conditions such as obesity, arthritis, high cholesterol, and cancer. About 70% of acai’s composition is insoluble dietary fiber, which is much higher than other fruits such as apples, oranges, and bananas (Socorro, 2011). Insoluble dietary fiber does not dissolve in our gastrointestinal track, so it helps prevent constipation and also helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Acai also possesses comparable amounts of healthy fatty acids to olive oil (Socorro, 2011). Consuming these types of healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, can lower cholesterol and lower the risk of developing heart diseases.

Studies have found that acai can be beneficial to one’s health, but it is not the only fruit that possesses these “superfood” qualities. Other fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, also contain a high amount of antioxidants and fiber. When looking for dietary changes to reduce high cholesterol, incorporating acai would be a smart choice for improving health. Although there is evidence that suggests acai can potentially provide health benefits, no research has proven that acai is a miracle berry that can cure all diseases.

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/acai/faq-20057794

Maria do Socorro, M. Rufino, et al. “Açaí (Euterpe oleraceae)‘BRS Pará’: A tropical fruit source of antioxidant dietary fiber and high antioxidant capacity oil.” Food Research International 44.7 (2011): 2100-2106.

Schauss, Alexander G., et al. “Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart.(acai).” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54.22 (2006): 8604-8610.

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