advertisement
08 October 2014

Acai berries- nature's 'filler'

Acai berries look like grapes, but come from palm trees – and they’re packed with nutrients. What should YOU know about this superfood?

0

Acai berries are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and heart-healthy fats.

As a result, there are some huge claims made for their benefits, such as that they possesses cancer-fighting and anti-ageing properties.

Read: The benefits of brown rice protein

While we wait for more research results to confirm these proposed benefits, it can’t hurt to get your hands on these exotic, nutrient-rich berries – or extracts of them – to add to meals, drinks and snacks.

Background and history


Acai berries are the fruit of the acai palm tree, which grows in the rainforests of South America. The trees can grow up to a height of 25m and its berries are reddish-purple in colour and about 2,5cm long. Interestingly, acai berries are related to blueberries and cranberries.

Although acai berries have grown for thousands of years in the Amazon basin, they were only introduced to the western world in the 1990s.

These berries have been used by the traditional populations of the rainforests as immune-stimulating supplements and energy boosters for centuries.

Read: 'Superfoods' everyone should eat

There has been a huge amount of publicity surrounding acai berries and their health properties. Like other foods classified as superfoods, they have a very high nutritional content for the number of kilojoules they contain.

Health benefits


Acai-berry pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity. Specifically, it’s rich in polyphenols, anthocyanin, anthocyanidins and other flavonoids.

Apart from the possible cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties associated with foods rich in the above antioxidants, the other health benefits ascribed to these berries include the following:

  • An energy booster that promotes strength and endurance. This is because acai berries contain antioxidants, amino acids, essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • A digestive aid. The high fibre content of acai berries can help prevent or relieve constipation.
  • An anti-ageing agent (some beauty products contain acai berries). Acai berries contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper. They’re also source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and E.
  • Weight-loss agent. (This benefit remains unsubstantiated.)
  • Arthritis cure and a help for depression. (These benefits remain unsubstantiated.) 

How to enjoy acai berries


Acai berries can be bought in powdered or capsule form. In Australia, organic acai berries are also available from several companies that sell frozen berries.

Acai berries can be eaten as is. The fresh berries – or acai-berry extract – can be eaten with breakfast cereals, or in desserts or smoothies. You can also juice the berries. In short, treat them as you would any other berry.

Read:  Go 'nuts' about Coconut oil

What distinguishes acai berries from other berries, however, is that they’re a rich source of healthy fats, which means they’ll keep you fuller for longer. Enjoy!

Read More:

Coconut – the 'fruit of life'
What’s so 'super' about superfoods?
Maca – save your sex life the natural way

Image: Acai in a bowl from Shutterstock.

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X

The truth about juicing

2018-06-07 07:07
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.