The impressive antioxidant effects and health benefits of Açaí
by Dr. Mariangel Leota
There is no doubt that nutrition is the key to maintaining optimal health and avoiding chronic diseases.
The açai berry, also called the berry of the Amazonian palm, looks like a cross between a grape and a blueberry; It is small and purple-reddish. It is harvested from tall, thin palm trees that are found around the Amazon River basin of South America and in some parts of Central America. These berries are somewhat perishable, but represent a very popular food among the local population of Brazil.
All come from a plant called Euterpe oleracea, which is a type of tropical palm that produces clusters of this fruit a little smaller than grapes. Today these trees, which can grow up to 30 meters high, are planted and harvested more than ever in the tropical parts of the world to export their fruits around the world.
One of the main characteristics of Açaí is that its fruit is permanent and can be collected throughout the year, although there are more favorable times and others that are less.
One of the points in favor that presents this superfood for those who declare themselves lovers of nature, is that it can be ingested in this way, exactly the natural: from the tree to your body. As we know, it is not easy to obtain this type of fruit in all the locations, since its production is limited exclusively to some areas -which we have already commented previously- and its export is not entirely simple.
For those who wish to consume the açai berry fruit, they can access it through extracts that, usually, usually appear in powder or capsules. Açai is often used to lose weight.
The seed is 95% of the açai fruit and the rest is the pulp from which it juices its delicious juice with its rich flavor and dark pigmentation that is consumed in bottles, with yogurt or smoothie and in all kinds of healthy foods. The global demand for Açaí berry has expanded rapidly in recent years, mainly in the United States where it is a trend.
Generally, the taste is described as being similar to wild berries and chocolate.
Nutritionally speaking, they are low in sugar (which can be easily swallowed by diabetics), but they contain excellent amounts of minerals such as iron and calcium, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, B6.
Vitamin B, very present in Açaí, helps regulate the release of the hormones dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in the processes of sleep regulation. In addition, the açaí berry contains amino acids, which help to relax tired muscles and allow a peaceful and restful sleep.
It’s a good source of fiber (40% of its composition), it helps regenerate the Intestinal flora and colon cleansing
They also contain anthocyanin compounds such as resveratrol, cyanidation and ferulic acid, which not only gives fruits and vegetables their distinctive color, but also conjugates with flavonoids to defend the body against the accumulation of fats in the arteries ( atherosclerosis) and harmful free radicals, which not only make us look older by damaging our skin, also cause joint, bone and muscle pain. This concentration of antioxidants is 10 times higher than black grapes and it is estimated that açai has between 10 and 30 times more anthocyanins than red wine
Antioxidants are true “hunters” of free radicals, which means they help slow down the process of organism deterioration
The beneficial fatty acids like oleic acid, one of the same oils found in olive oil, is another strong point as it helps the body use omega-3 oils to reduce inflammation.
It is considered a digestive purifier, helping the liver and kidneys to process and eliminate waste and toxins from the body.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Natural products for skin care made with Açaí oil are a good natural alternative for chemical-based products for skin care. Currently, many beauty products contain açai oil because of the high antioxidant content of the oil. The benefits for skin care are not only limited to external application. When consumed, the berries provide nutrition that can give the skin a healthy glow.
In fact, Brazilians have consumed these Açaí berries for centuries to promote skin health.
To relieve the pains
Traditional uses for Açaí fruit include treatment for diarrhea, parasitic infections, hemorrhages and ulcers.
Added to this, can help prevent health problems such as arthritis, inflammation, obesity, erectile dysfunction, neurological diseases and allergies. Laboratory studies have shown that they have positive effects in ailments associated with oxidative stress (due to normal body function, such as exercise), heart disease and cancer.
Studies have tested açai berries as anti-carcinogenic
These berries are potencies against the growth of bad cells. Multiple studies have found that anthocyanins and polyphenols found in Açaí berries have strong antiproliferative properties, which means they stop the out-of-control growth of bad cells. It is believed that these phytochemicals can alter the cellular mutation at the molecular level, killing the affected cells before they multiply.
The açaí has ellagic acid, which is considered the only proven substance that promotes apoptosis (natural cell death) of cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Another detail is that it helps fight bacteria and viruses, therefore, it is ideal to strengthen defenses.
Recent scientific findings published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine indicate that açaí prevents immune suppression and modulates the activity of lymphocytes.
It is usually used as a supplement in weight loss diets, since it offers the sensation of being satiated.
In a recent study, they evaluated how açaí fruit pulp affected the risks of metabolic disorder. The study was conducted on 10 overweight adults, taking 100 grams of Açaí pulp daily for a month. Before the study, blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and other biomarkers of each subject were measured. At the end of the 30-day trial, the researchers discovered reductions in fasting glucose, insulin levels and total cholesterol.
The best fruit for athletes
Its high concentration of carbohydrates, proteins and fat make açaí an ideal food for athletes and very active people. One liter of açaí contains an average of 12.6 grams of protein, which represents 25-30% of the necessary daily nutritional amount.
In addition, its amino acid profile is similar to that of the egg. As they are vegetable proteins, they are easier to process towards the muscles, which makes it possible to take better advantage of their energetic impulse.
Similarly, açaí is high in carbohydrates, which provide the body with the energy needed at work or for the practice of any sport.
Açai drinks are very popular and are considered one of the best energy drinks by many athletes and superstars. Athletics trainers know the value of antioxidants and supplements that provide protein, long-lasting energy.
Help in cognitive functions
Taking foods with many antioxidants is a natural way to improve concentration and memory. Inflammation and oxidative stress are the two main causes of cognitive problems, including memory loss, dementia and other mental illnesses related to age. Açai pulp has protective effects on brain cells, which results in an improvement of motor and cognitive functions.
Açaí berries help to stimulate mental functions and allow you to think lucidly, maintain high energy levels and deal better with the effects of psychological stress. Açai is also good for balancing hormonal disorders and decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
For the health of women
Because it is a significant source of calcium (133 to 286 mg / 100 g), açaí can help prevent osteoporosis, especially in women, as well as to combat menstrual pain.
For men, a curious fact: Increases libido
Although it is not an aphrodisiac, this famous purple berry is related to the general increase of blood circulation in the human body, a phenomenon that can help stimulate the sexual impulse, especially in men. in Brazil it is known as the “natural viagra”.
Side effects that you should know
It is always advisable to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before adding supplements to your diet.
The consumption of Açaí can cause irritation in the stomach, which can lead to gastrointestinal ulcers and diarrhea. As with most dietary supplements high in nutrients and vitamins, the risk of stomach irritation is very common. The most common side effects are indigestion, stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and acid reflux.
The use of açai is recommended with caution if you are taking anti-inflammatory medications or if you have hypertension problems.
It can also cause allergic reactions, the risk being higher if you already have an allergy to some fruits, especially berries and citrus fruits. Typical symptoms associated with an allergic reaction are itching, rash, swelling, difficulty breathing and watery eyes.
Another of the most common side effects that can arise after taking Açaí is excessive weight loss, so prolonged use or excessive doses of the supplement should be supervised by a professional nutritionist.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, it is best to consult a health professional.