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The Top 7 Benefits of the Acai Berry for Health

So, we have all heard of it and we all want to try it. But, do you actually know what it is?

What is an Açaí Berry?

The açaí berry is the fruit of the açaí palm. In the past, it was mostly grown for the heart of the palm tree. It was used in everything from fabrics to building materials. For the natives, it was an important tree. Today, we know the fruits are very nutritious and can help our bodies be healthy.

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The fruit, the açaí berry, is a small, round, black-purple drupe about 25 mm (1 in) around, similar to a grape, but smaller. Unlike a grape, the seed takes up 80% of the fruit, making it a difficult fruit to extract a lot of juice or pulp from. A drupe is a type of fruit hangs from branches, similar to nectarines and peaches. The fruit is harvested twice a year.

Where Does the Açaí Berry Come From?

This palm tree is native to Brazil and South America. It’s most at home in swamp land and marshy areas. When the Portuguese invaded Brazil, one of the things they took back with them was the açaí palm. It is now cultivated in many areas of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern areas.

Açaí Health Benefits and Side Effects

Traditional uses for the fruit has been for diarrhea, parasitic infections, hemorrhages, and ulcers. The native population uses the fruit extensively in their diet. They did not take it for specific health purposes, just as a normal part of their diet.

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Top 7 Benefits of Açaí Berry

  • High In Nutrients

The açaí berry has some of the highest levels of antioxidants in the fruit world. It has more antioxidants than cranberries (see this article for more), and more than strawberries and blueberries. It has 10 times the nutrients as black raspberries. They contain anthocyanins, such as resveratrol, cyanidin, and ferulic acid. These anthocyanins are what give the fruit its dark color.

Foods and drinks rich in antioxidants have long been hailed as super foods, which is why even red wine is recommended for a longer life. 

Antioxidants fight off free radicals that cause damage to our health. These free radicals are the result of such unhealthy practices as smoking, exposure to pollution, too much stress, and a poor diet. By fighting off these free radicals, antioxidants protect our bodies from chronic illnesses.

The level of antioxidants can be measured by Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). According to the US Department of Agriculture, a typical serving of fruits and vegetables can contain anywhere from 850 to 2,500 ORAC units. A single 5 gram serving of organic freeze dried açaí berry can provide as much as 4,700 ORAC units.

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  • Low in Sugar

Compared to other fruits, it's pretty rock bottom in sugar. But, don’t let that fool you. It still has 2g of sugar in a small 100g serving of fresh berry. Dried berries can get up to 50% sugar, especially when unscrupulous companies soak them in sugar first.

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  • High In Fatty Acids

Like in avocados and olives, they contain high amounts of different fatty acids, especially oleic acid, which can help your heart.

  • May Help to Combat
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Neurological diseases
  • Allergies
  • Proven to Reduce
  • Oxidative stress
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

Your age, family history, and genes can affect your likelihood of getting heart disease, and you can’t do anything about those factors. But you can help your heart by making açaí part of your diet.

Because of the high level of antioxidants, the LDL or bad cholesterol can be prevented from oxidizing. When LDL oxidizes, it forms plaque in the arteries and that leads to arteriosclerosis.

Açaí berry is also naturally cholesterol free. It’s low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats such as omega-6 and omega-9. These unsaturated fats reduce the levels of bad cholesterol. It also has lots more monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated fats and this maintains the level of good cholesterol.

  • Acai Berry High in Vitamins & Minerals

The berry contains high amounts of iron, calcium, and vitamin A. They contain moderate amounts of just about everything else. It is one of the most nutrient-packed berries on the planet.

  • They are High in Fiber

Aside from apples, most fruit is just middle of the road when it comes to fiber. Açaí is an exception. It’s high in fiber that aids the digestive process, not just moves things along.

Studies have long shown that a diet rich in fiber decreases the likelihood that you’ll get sick from heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. Fiber soaks up sugar and releases it gradually so that your blood sugar levels are more stable. It also slows cholesterol absorption.

Studies have also demonstrated a in inverse correlation between the amount of fiber you consume and your BMI. In other words, the more fiber you consume the less likely you’ll be overweight. Part of the reason for that is because fiber helps you feel full. That helps you eat less during meals and also reduces your unhealthy food cravings.

How Much Açaí Berry Should I Take?

Because the berry is it more potent, you want to be careful how much you take. We do not recommend any more than half a cup (about 100g) of berry per day. This way, you do not overload your system with sugars and you are still getting a tremendous amount of nutrients.

Keep to fresh berries if you can. If not, go very easy on how much you take. We recommend less than ¼ cup (50g) if you use dried berries or pulp.

Here’s one thing to keep in mind: The body can only absorb so many nutrients at one time. If you eat too many of any one food, even a very healthy food, your body won’t have the time or ability to absorb most of the nutrients. You just end up creating expensive (and highly nutritious) waste.

This is especially true with supplements. We can only absorb about 10% of a supplement, but nearly 80% of the whole food. Still, we only absorb less than 250mg of any vitamin when in top condition, and even less when sick or ill (The Physician’s Desk Reference (2000 Edition)).

Açaí Berry Cleanse Benefits

Using the berry in a cleanse is a good idea. They contain many nutrients and can add an unusual flavor to your foods and juices. With a well-rounded and nutritionist guided cleanse, you can get a tremendous amount of nutrition very fast and achieve great results.

But, and this is a big one, focusing on the açaí berry for a cleanse will not gain you anything.

Here’s why: While the berry contains lots of good nutrients, we can’t absorb them all (or most of them) quickly. The nutrition has to be spread out over time for us to get the benefits. With a cleanse, you don’t spread it out. Therefore, most of the benefits go right down the toilet.

Plus, focusing on one food means you aren’t working with someone who is training in how the body works and how to feed it properly. As a nutritionist myself, I’ve had to help people who made themselves sick on gimmick cleanses, like this one. Trust me when I say a slower, well-rounded cleanse is healthier, longer-lasting, and easier than this type of cleanse.

Plus, taking too much berry can cause diarrhea.

Is the Açaí Berry Cleanse Safe?

Despite not really working, yes, the cleanse is safe. You will be getting more nutrition in your diet, and probably eating much healthier.

You won’t be adding any toxic level of nutrients or chemicals to your system.

The only suspect part of the cleanse is if you use sugar coated berries and eat too much sugar. This could cause diabetes issues in most people.

But, like we said, it doesn’t work.

Açaí Berry and Weight Loss

You won’t see weight loss results from the berry or supplement alone. This berry is not a weight loss cure. In fact, it won’t do anything for you alone.

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What you will see is by adding the berry to a healthy diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits, you’ll get results faster.

Açaí can be a great addition to your breakfast because it’s just so nutritious. It can help you feel full, and that helps you to resist high-calorie treats later in the day. It also gives you the energy you need to function for the rest of the day.

Breakfast is crucial if you want to lose weight. When you forgot breakfast, your metabolism slows down. That’s meant to conserve what little energy you have left form the many hours you’ve spent not eating while you slept. Eating your breakfast will then boost your metabolism.

There are many nutrients in the berry that will aid in all sorts of health issues. Losing weight is often a sign of malnutrition, which the berry can help repair. Once your body receives proper nutrition, you let go of excess weight.

Açaí Berry for Skin Health

Despite seeing some of the popular products using açaí, it really doesn’t do much for the body topically (although it does smell nice).

The berry works from the inside out. Having good nutrition means having good skin. As you use the berry, you’ll be adding to your nutritional intake and that will help give you good skin. The berry also has mild anti-inflammatory properties, so it will also help reduce minor puffiness.

How to Take Açaí

For most people, we won’t be able to get fresh açaí berries and require either supplement, dried berries, or another form of preserved fruit.

Fresh Açaí Berries

Unless you live in Brazil, some parts of South America, or some parts of the Mediterranean, you simply will not be able to get the fresh berry. It is very perishable and does not ship well. Of course, with the right amount of money, you can get anything fresh.

How to eat this fresh fruit can be a little tricky. Since 80% of the fruit is actually the seed, you have to strip the pulp away from the seed. While we have never done it ourselves (we live in the far north), we have it on good authority that it is not an easy process and ends up being the juicy mess.

When you have a fresh berry, you do want to eat it right away. It’s not something to store away unless you live in an area where they are plentiful.

Dried Açaí Berries

For the majority of the world, we will have to do with dried berries. And that’s actually okay since the fruit does not lose significant amounts of nutrition when it’s dry.

Dried berries make great snacks. You can grab a handful and be on your way, getting a tremendous amount of nutrition all in one easy to eat package. You just want to make sure you avoid the berries that are smothered in syrup or sugar. That much sugar negates many of the nutritional benefits.

Dried berries are very good for combining with items you will be cooking. For example, you could add the berry to a mixed berry dessert. The dried berries would help soak up some of the extra liquid and become soft and pliable.

Also, check out the chocolate açaí berry recipe we have down below.

Frozen (Organic) Açaí Berries

frozen acai berries

Frozen berries are my favorite type of baking with. They are the easiest to incorporate into desserts and are able to retain their juices. When frozen, the berry does not pick up some of the bitter aftertastes that are in dried berries.

The frozen berry is also very good for juicing, or you can just throw a handful of the organic frozen berry into your juicer and help keep everything cold.

Açaí Berry Puree and Pulp

You can get the berry puree, we don’t actually recommend that. The main reason is that when you place the puree into a can, it goes through a significant amount of processing. The temperature differences and processing destroy many of the health benefits. The puree is convenient and easy to use, however.

So, you’ll need to use your best judgment. Do you want the ease of using the puree? Or do you want to retain as many nutrients as possible?

Açaí Berry Juice

One of the more popular juices right now is the berry juice. Many companies are adding this to different flavor blends. You can find any of the juices at natural food stores, and organic sections of the grocery store.

You just want to be very careful. Many of the juices are using artificial flavors in order to achieve the taste. Many of them do not contain much of the juice at all. You will want to read the ingredient label and make sure the berry juice that you get is pure berry juice.

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Açaí Berry Extract

acai berry extract benefits

In many areas, people do not have access to a natural food store and their organic section is quite limited. If you want to achieve some of the benefits you can get from this berry, we recommend using the supplement that has a berry extract.

The extract is a very concentrated dose of the berry. You get the health benefits without all the extra sugars.

Again, you want to be very careful and make sure you get quality supplements. There are many manufacturers that will place just a little bit of the extract into a supplement that contains mostly fillers. You want to look for the pharmacopoeia seals for wherever you are. Typically, the German Pharmacopoeia and the United States Pharmacopoeia are considered two of the top regulating agencies for supplements.

Açaí Berry Powder

While the powder has a great convenience, we don’t really recommend the use of the berry powder. The issue isn’t with the powder, which is usually pretty decent, it’s with the amount of processing it takes to dry the berry, and then grind it up, and then pack it into a container that is designed to last a long time. We are already looking at a product that is quite old by the time you get to it. And with age comes missing nutrients.

Açaí Tea

There are many companies that are now putting the berry as part of a tea blend. It’s good for taste, but it’s not the best for nutritional content. The main reason for this is because there isn’t enough of the berry to make a significant nutritional impact on your body. There’s just not enough in there.

So, if you have the berry tea, drink it up. It tastes good. But don’t rely on it to provide you the health benefits you can get from having the fresh fruit or the dried or frozen fruit.

Fun Açaí Recipes

Açaí Berry Smoothie

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In a blender, mix half a cup each of açaí berry, blueberries, plums, and strawberries. You can use either frozen or fresh berries for this. If you use frozen, mix some apple juice in with the smoothie so it blends nicely.

Açaí Berry Sorbet

You will need an ice cream machine * for this one. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make plain sorbet. Just before you mix the final product, adding berry puree or slightly thawed frozen berries. In this case, you want to avoid the fresh berries. Then, allow your machine to make the sorbet and enjoy.

Açaí and Chocolate

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If you’ve ever made chocolate * covered nuts, you will recognize this recipe. First, melt your chocolate in a double boiler. Since the berries are a little bit sweeter, go with darker chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted, start stirring your berries. You will want dried berries for this. Any wetness will cause the chocolate to seize up and be ruined. Once the berries are covered in chocolate, spread over a piece of parchment paper and allowed to cool. You can talk with various assorted toppings like sea salt, caramel, or peppermint pieces.

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About the Author: Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Traditional Naturopath, and Herbalist. She has a Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition and an advanced degree in Traditional Naturopathy. Further certifications in herbalism and metabolic typing. She owns and operates Crystal Holistic Health Consulting based in PA, the USA since 2010.

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