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What Are the Health Benefits of Acai Berries?
The acai berry has quickly become a popular fruit that many people have used as part of a dieting regime. Having the scientific name of Euterpe oleracea, acai berries are extremely rich in nutrients and contain many health benefits that improve the human body. The proper way to pronounce acai is “ah-sigh-ee” and not “ah-kye”. Acai berries are grown on the acai palm trees in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil. Acai berries are dark purple in color and are almost the same size of grapes.
About 10% of an acai berry is made up of edible pulp and skin, where the remaining 90% are made up of seed or pit. Acai berries are extremely popular in Brazil as they are normally used in this country as herbal medicine, and the oil of acai is used to treat diarrhea. For Amazon natives acai berries has been a major part of their diet for hundreds of years.
Acai Berries Help to Fight Cancer
Acai berries were 1 of 7 berry types used for testing on rats to see if they could treat developing cancers associated with the esophagus. Results indicated that acai berries were just as capable as the other berries in preventing chemically-induced tumorigensis in the esophagus.
Cell lines related to that of breast cancer and colorectal cancer were also tested. These cells were treated with 10, 20 and 40 millileters of bark, seed and total acai fruit hydroalcoholic extracts for 24 and 48 hours. Results showed that the acai extracts caused a significant reduction in cancer cell viability and altered morpholgical features by inducing the appearance of autophagic vacoules. In summary acai berries can play a strong therapeutic role in cancer treatment.
Acai Berries Contain Antioxidant Properties
One study involved 20 lab rats that were divided into 4 different groups. These groups were a control group, experimental groups of 100 and 200 milligrams of acai, and a placebo group containing ethanol and water. One clear result of this test was that the acai groups of rats had a reduced tumor diameter.
A major component that is present in freeze-dried acai pulp would be Anthocyanin 3-rutinoside. In a study that observed the varying uses of acai, many bioactive compounds were found in this fruit. Commercial samples and genotype samples of acai have significantly varying contents of phenolic compounds. The commercial samples contain a higher antioxidant capacity and higher levels of anthocyanins, but both samples are reported to have positive effects on the body.
Acai Berries Contain Antibacterial Properties
The physical and antibacterial properties of acai berries were evaluated, and one very unique discovery came out of this study. Acai edible film incorporated with thyme essential oil presented the highest antimicrobial activity when protecting against the formation of bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes. In the case of food preservation, this edible fruit can be used as a protective film if necessary.
In many ways acai berries can help the body combat both bacterial and viral infection. Acai berries boost the immune system, and according to a study conducted by Brazilian scientists, acai extracts can be used to fight bacterial infections because of the contents acai has in Vitamin E (which is known to fight off influenza and Coxsackie virus B), and Zinc.
Acai Berries Have Cardioprotective Effects
For those suffering from cardiovascular troubles, acai berries can serve as one solution to treat such conditions. Multiple intervention studies were conducted on the effects of acai berries along with other berries when it came to preventing cardiovascular disease risk factors. Results showed that there was an increase in plasma and urinary antioxidant capacity, a lowered LDL cholesterol oxidation, lipid peroxidation and total cholesterol, and an increase in HDL cholesterol. These studies ranged from 4 to 12 weeks in duration, and both conventional berry products and purified extracts were examined.
Key components found in acai berries that will help people with cardiovascular disease would be Sterols, which inhibit the absorption and increase the excretion of cholesterol, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which can lower plasma triglyceride levels and decrease the formation of triglycerides in the liver.
Acai Berries Treat Diabetes
In addition to treating cardiovascular disease, diabetics can get relief by consuming acai berries as well. The effect of acai fruit pulp on metabolic disorders was evaluated, and 10 overweight adults were the test subjects. These adults were given 100 grams of acai pulp 2 times daily for 1 month, and what was measured were the levels of fasting plasma glucose, insulin and nitric oxide metabolites. Results showed reductions in fasting glucose and insulin levels following treatment.
The advantages that you can get from consuming acai berries is that your appetite will be generally suppressed and that you give yourself a chance to fight the fat that builds up around your body. Acai berries also have a very low glycemic index.
Acai Berries Promote Brain Health
Acai berries can help your brain receive the oxygen it needs. 30 rats were treated with either water or acai frozen pulp for 14 days, and starting on the 15th day half of the rats received either mineral oil or carbon tetrachloride. The results of this study showed the acai frozen pulp group benefited more. The pulp prevented the inhibition of creatine kinase activity, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, carbonyl and antioxidant enzymes catalase activity in all brain structures.
According to Dr. Shibu Poulose, polyphenols are responsible for activating proteins that repair damaged cells, breaking down and recycling the chemicals that are linked to aging-related mental decline.
Acai Berries Contain Anti-Inflammatory Properties
In one study human colon myofibroblastic cells were examined, and when applied to these cells the acai extract partially reversed this effect to 0.53-fold of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) control. What the acai extract basically did was reduce the threat of inflammation. It also down regulated LPS-induced expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). These results suggest that the anti-inflammatory effect of acai extract in intestinal cells are substantial. All of the rich nutrients acai berries contain play a part in repairing the body from inflammation.