The health benefits of acai berry
Acai berries grow on palm trees around the Amazon River regions. The trees grow up to 40 to 80 feet high without any branches. The berries are dark purple and look similar to blueberries. They contain powerful polyphenolic anthocyanin compounds such as resveratrol, cyanidin-3-galactoside (C3G), ferulic acid, delphinidin and petunidin. They also contain proanthocyanidin tannins such as epicatechin, protocatechuic acid and ellagic acid.
Acai berries are extraordinarily rich in antioxidants and have a very high ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) that is far superior to any other form of fruit that has been officially tested and categorized. It is also rich in key B vitamins, electrolytes and trace minerals that are necessary for reducing inflammation and improving energy levels.
Acai berries and cancer:
Free radical damage is one of the leading causes for accelerated aging and cancer cell formation. When cells are exposed to heavy amounts of free radicals without sufficient cell signaling processes, they develop genetic mutations that replicate abnormally. This constant bombardment of free radicals is one of the leading factors in cancer cell formation and proliferation.
Anthocyanins are what give certain fruits and vegetables their dark blue or purplish pigments. This color is derived through very unique double bond structures that provide intense antioxidant protection from the detrimental effects of long-term UV light exposure for these fruits and vegetables. Scientists have found over 600 naturally occurring forms of anthocyanins. The most common form is C3G, which has been shown to upregulate genes that provide more radiation and free radical protection in the body.
A 2006 study done at the University of Florida showed that acai extract was able to trigger the apoptotic death switch in 86% of leukemia cells. Compounds that show great effects such as this in cell culture models oftentimes have great effects in human studies. This is attributed to the large amounts of C3G and other anthocyanins and their profound effect on cellular genetics.
Acai berries and the immune system:
The antioxidants in acai berries have a profound effect at reducing the oxidative stress that foreign invading microorganisms and environmental toxins produce. They also help the immune system to function at a higher level and increase their strength of attack against these opportunistic microbes.
The acai berry also contains a unique polysaccharide fraction called arabinogalactan. This polysaccharide is a specific carbohydrate that has been shown to induce robust T cell stimulatory activity. The largest polysaccharides from acai were the most active immunologically. They activated both myeloid and T cells and increased IL-12 production. This improved T cell activity improves the body’s fight against infections.
Acai berry recommendations:
It is important to remember that acai does contain fructose sugar, as all fruits and berries do. For optimal health, we want to consume very low amounts of fructose and high amounts of antioxidants. This is why consuming an organic, minimally processed acai berry extract or powder that has very small amounts of sugar and is in its purest possible form is most effective.
Be sure that the company you purchase from has a Certificate of Analysis verifying its genuine and unadulterated state. It should also be wildcrafted, meaning that it is harvested in its native state in Brazil. Typical dosages should range between 1 and 2 grams per day for a maintenance dosage. If you have a metabolic disease and are using acai as one of your key antioxidants, then higher dosages in the 5-10 gram range are recommended.
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