The AÇAÍ Berry - An Antioxidant Powerhouse
Let’s first discuss the term “Super-food” because nowadays it seems the list of super-foods is endless. Describing the açaí berry or any other food as a super-food may be a bit misleading. Super-foods was originally more of a marketing term popularized in the media to refer to foods that have health-promoting properties such as reducing one's risk of disease or improving any aspect of physical or emotional health. So-called super-foods are believed to have an unusually high content of antioxidants, vitamins, or other nutrients.
Açaí (ah-sigh-EE) berries are a grape-like fruit native to the rainforests of South America. They are harvested from açaí palm trees. The fruits are about 1 to 2 centimeters (cm) in diameter with a deep purple color. The taste of açaí berries is a blend of chocolate and berries.
Due to their fragile nature, it’s difficult to transport them outside of their native region so you’ll usually find açaí berry as a purée or powder, which when blended with ice and banana becomes the very popular Açaí Bowl.
Açaí Bowls have been showing up at juice bars and salad shops all over America. It’s one of my favorite breakfast choices because açaí bowls offer a filling, nutritional, and antioxidant rich start to the day without weighing you down as is common with so many greasy breakfast alternatives. Topped with berries, bananas, seeds and granola, an açaí bowl can provide up to a few servings of fruit as well as fiber.
Açaí berries have been called a superfood, with benefits including improved skin appearance, weight loss, lowered LDL cholesterol, cancer fighting properties, and improved brain function, but not all of these claims are supported by evidence.
Age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease have no cure, but research suggests that diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenolic compounds may lower the risk of these diseases.
Specifically, the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is abundant in açaí berries, may lower oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting brain health.
Anthocyanin consumption has been strongly linked to oxidative stress protection.
One study has found that regular consumption of anthocyanin can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women.
The fiber and heart-healthy fats in açaí also support heart health. Heart-healthy fats increase HDL ("good") cholesterol and decrease LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Anthocyanin has been observed to engage in anticarcinogenic activities, although the exact mechanisms are unknown. Laboratory studies using a variety of cancer cells have indicated that anthocyanins:
•act as antioxidants
•activate detoxifying enzymes
•prevent cancer cell proliferation
•induce cancer cell death
•have anti-inflammatory effects
•inhibit the formation of tumors
•prevent cancer cell invasion
These functions have been observed in multiple animal and culture studies.
Açaí can be purchased dried, frozen, as juice, as powder, in food products, and in tablet form.
𝐀 𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐃 𝐎𝐅 𝐂𝐀𝐔𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍!-
Many of the powdered and frozen purée packets of açaí berry on the market have added sugar. DO NOT BUY THESE! The sugar-free açaí packs taste great and you don’t need or want a bunch of sugar added to your breakfast. There is enough natural sugar found in the bananas and berries that are added to your açaí bowl. Make sure to ask to see the label of the açaí packet before purchase otherwise you may be unknowingly eating a bowl full of sugar for breakfast.
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