About Acai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) look like slightly large elongated reddish purple grapes; they have a pleasant tropical taste. Acai berries contain an absolute abundance of antioxidants cementing them as a high ranking superfood. The fruit is native to South and Central America and is a staple food of many Amazonian tribes.
The fruit grows on trees in clusters of between 500-1000 berries, although the berries look like giant grapes they don't have as much meat on them. An acai very is made up of around 70% stone.
A study of traditional Caboclo indigenous Amazonian tribes revealed that the açaí palm was the most important part of their diet, alone making up over 40% of their total dietary intake (by weight).
Acai berries offer many nutritional benefits to those who eat them or consume products made with the berries. Acai has in recent times gained notoriety for the extremely high levels of anthocyanin and flavonoids they contain.
Flavonoids and anthocyanins are identifiable in various fruits and vegetables by the blue, reddish-purple hues and tones that those fruits contain, most noticeable blueberries and acai berries.
Fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of anthocyanin contain elevated levels of antioxidants; these can help the human body defend against free radicals and other elements that can overwhelm the immune system of the body.
They also assist the body in regenerating cells faster, more quickly and can in certain cases increase cells ability to carry oxygen around the body.
A body which has an abundant supply of antioxidants in the form of flavonoids and anthocyanin's from acai berries or a similar source will have cells that can carry more oxygen around the body.
An abundance of oxygen in the blood stream is going to make the body's immune system stronger and will be more likely to be able to fight disease, and generally will remain healthier. A robust physical well being almost always leads to a healthier psychological well-being.
Acai's are not a particularly strong fruit. Acai Berries are extremely perishable, and it is highly unlikely that you will be able to find fresh berries outside of Central America. In that respect are very similar to the common garden pea that we all know, and mostly love. As soon as peas are picked, they immediately begin to lose their nutritional goodness.
The faster the fresh acai fruit is either frozen or freeze dried, the more of its nutritional goodness it will retain. Once freeze dried or processed they retain their nutritional value for quite some time if the process has been conducted correctly they can be good for years.
Acai berries are marketed in many different forms, and the seller of each product will always try to convince us that his product is the best, as users of super foods and healthy foods we should always try and keep ourselves informed and knowledgeable of what products are available and the benefits, they have for us.
The berries are commonly marketed in three different forms, freeze dried, juices and extracts. Each product has its advantages, and here we will try to outline them so you can make an informed decision.
Acai in juice or extract form can be very convenient to consume. What is marketed as acai extract could, in fact, be any part of the acai fruit, even a part which no or very little nutritional value?
Equally, so acai juice can be bought in handy snack-sized containers or larger family packs, as with the acai extract products the juice is very convenient to take and easily fits in with a busy, hectic lifestyle.
The berry extract isn't quite as nutritionally well stocked when it's compared to its freeze dried sister. A lot of the goodness that acai berries pass on to us has contained in the meat or pulp of the berry itself.
When the fruit is put through the juicing or extract process, the pulp is often discarded or used in other products, and thus a good percentage of its healing power is dissipated.
The value of acai berries is held in such high regard that in some cases the pit or seed has been known to be ground down and included in extract products. The pit, seed of the fruit is sometimes referred to as the 'endocarp'; the endocarp has zero nutritional value.
Some unscrupulous marketers add this ground down seed to products so they can market them as containing acai berries, it is true they contain acai, but the seed has no nutritional properties. Read the labels carefully when buying extract products, they are not all created equally!!!
Freeze dried acai berries are the holy grail, these when freeze dried close to the source pack a mighty nutritional punch and contain many of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals our body's need to maintain themselves.
The freeze dried berries can be exported to all parts of the world because of the very stable nature of the freeze-drying process; this is the same process that garden peas have been enduring for many years.
The freeze drying process allows the acai berry to retain its full goodness because the whole of the fruit (less the seed or 'endocarp' which has zero nutritional value anyway) is processed, the fiber and goodness is retained by the flesh or pulp and skin of the fruit, all of this is freeze dried.
Once the berries are freeze dried they can be transported or stored with absolutely no loss of nutrition or goodness. After being freeze dried the fruits can then be processed into a wide variety of products, from being ground down to make capsules or easy to consume tablets, or later rehydrated and consumed directly or added to foods or juices.
As a consumer, you must read labels when buying acai berry juices. Many of the juice products are excellent and provide a powerful nutritional punch.
However, all are not equal. Such is the marketing power of acai berries that some marketers and manufacturers will claim their juices contain “Acai Berry”, but actually when the small print is examined you will discover that acai berries make up only a very limited percentage if any of the drink.
Commonly juices are heavily diluted with another fruit juice; often apple juice is used.
Acai juice drinks made from a high percentage of acai berry pulp and contain freeze-dried whole acai berries are superb, and still retain elevated levels of antioxidants and flavonoids, which boost the bodies immune system.
When all is said and done, make sure you know what you are buying. Some marketers and manufacturers, as in every industry in the world misrepresented their products.
If you stick to freeze dried acai berries or produce made from freeze dried acai, you can't go wrong. But you will certainly need to read the labels of the products you buy.
However, having said all of this, it is certainly better to consume an acai extract product or a high-quality juice that not to consume anything at all.
The nutritional benefits of eating products that are high in acai berries are not in any question, but there are a few varying opinions on the advantages that they have regarding weight loss and weight control.
Right now there is no quotable scientific data that can support or deny the claims that acai berries assist those who want to lose weight.
This partly because the berries are relatively new to western civilisations, previously they have just been consumed by the indigenous people of South & Central America, who have not had the means nor the need to analyse the food the eat.
To date, we only have the testimonies of those who have lost weight by using acai berries. Whether the high levels of antioxidants the berries contain helped speed up the subjects metabolism and assisted weight loss, as claimed, or just provided a psychological and confidence boost that helped them achieve the weight reduction results can't be confirmed. One thing that is for sure is that lots of people claim that consuming acai berries made the difference for them.
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