Acai Berry: What’s the Scoop on This Superfood?

The Açai (ah-sigh-ee) Berry is found in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. This little dark, purple berry boasts an ORAC (antioxidant) score of about 10 X the power of red grapes and up to 30 X times the anthocyanins of red wine! Its incredible power pack of antioxidants produce high levels of anthocyanins and polyphenols. These antioxidants are the substances that protect the cells against the damage from oxidation caused by “free radical” molecules. In addition to the anthocyanin’s potent antioxidant capabilities, anthocyanins are reported to have strong anti-viral properties.

Did you know that the antioxidants in the Açai Berry destroyed cultured human cancer cells in a recent University of Florida study? According to Stephen Talcott, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and agricultural Sciences, the study showed extracts from Açai Berries “triggered a self-destruct response in up to 86 percent of leukemia cells tested.” (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, January 2006). “In this type of experiment we look for two things. We try to see if the cancerous cells are dying, and we try to see if the cells release an enzyme known as caspase-3.” Caspase-3 is an enzyme released by cancerous cells as they die.

On the Oprah Winfrey Show, special guest Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of the best-seller, The Perricone Promise presented Açai as number one of the Top 10 Superfoods on the planet. He called it, “…one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world!”

It’s no wonder people are going nuts over this amazing fruit from the Amazon. The Açai Berry is also loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, as well as beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, fiber, protein and amino acids. It contains anti-inflammatories, anti-mutagenics and anti-bacterials. This berry is packed with phytonutrients which have been found to have potent antibacterial and anti-viral effects. Its phytosterol elements are made up of sterols which are components of plant cell membranes providing numerous reported benefits to the human body, namely the reduction of blood plasma cholesterol.

Unlike other fruits, the Açai Berry also contains essential fatty acids with a ratio that resembles that of olive oil. It has about 60% Omega 9 (Oleic acid) and 12% Omega 6 (Linoleic acid). Research shows that Omega 9 fatty acids can help to lower LDL and maintain HDL (beneficial cholesterol) levels, while Omega 6 can help lower both LDL and HDL levels.

Fruit juices are often avoided by diabetics and people watching their sugar intake. Yet, another unique quality of the Açai Berry is its low-glycemic factor, high protein and high fiber content. In The Insider’s Guide to America’s Worst & Best Supplements, Dr. Juliann Whitaker never thought he would ever recommend drinking a fruit juice. Nevertheless, when he discovered the Açai Berry’s contents, he gave it a “thumbs-up!”

Buyer beware! Consumers must be careful when shopping for Açai, because this little gem has to be freeze dried within 24 hours or it loses its active properties. Spray drying the berries also destroys most of its nutrients. To make matters worse, most Açai products contain non-organic ingredients, fillers, stimulants, water or chemical preservatives, as well as added sugar, artificial sweeteners, fructose or lots of other fruit juices. When buying Açai, be sure to only purchase products that have passed the 10 Acai Product Quality Tests.