Understanding Acai’s Antioxidants

Here’s a quote I hear a lot from new Acai fans: “Acai has the richest Antioxidant of any food in the world.”

Yes, you can truthfully say that, it is a quote by Dr. Strauss, who was the first person to run an ORAC evaluation on Acai berries. However, do people really understand what this means?

It’s not really referring to the ORAC score at all, but the high number of Antioxidant Compounds in Acai, which to me is far more impressive.

Most people simply think that relative to other fruits, an Acai berry ranks somewhere around 1,027, while a blueberry, for instance, ranks about 92. Over ten times as much.

Although those are the ORAC designations for fresh Acai and fresh low bush blueberries, this is way too simplistic of a way to think about antioxidants, and frankly some poor eating decisions are likely to be made if you continue to see it that simplistically.

First of all, the 1,027 is a number that represents micromoles (atomic measurements) of Trolox Equivalents per gram of any one Antioxidant compound found inside Acai. In one compound, not separate compounds all stacked up on top of each other.

Trolox is the major Antioxidant inside Vitamin E. People used to take Vitamin for its antioxidant power, but unfortunately what works in a test tube doesn’t work the same way in our bodies, so Trolox is no longer thought of as one of the best antioxidants for our bodies anymore.

However, scientists still measure the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC value) in micromoles of Trolox’s effectiveness in a lab.

That being said, there have so far been at least 16 Antioxidant compounds discovered in Acai. With many unidentified compounds left to go, there may be more to add to that list.

The most potent Antioxidant compound in the Acai berry is called Anthocyanin, which is the reason you’ve heard that drinking red wine is good for you… Red grapes were the previous best available fruit for Anthocyanins, but now Acai beats them by 33 times!

It’s just the Anthocyanins that are getting measured with the ORAC assay and reported at 1,027 micromoles of TE per gram. The 18 other compounds don’t beat the 1,027 score individually, but if you add them all up they’d easily dwarf the Anthocyanin score!

The number of different compounds in other fruits is usually between 1 and 3. Acai is so far out ahead of the pack in this area too that I simply can’t believe that I haven’t read in anyone’s sales literature about it… To me it is a primary selling point!

Why?

Think about it this way… The USDA recommends 5 fruits a day, right? The average fruit has 1-3 Antioxidant compounds in them, and that’s what’s making them so healthful.

So, the average of 1 & 3 is two, and two times 5 fruits a day equals 15.

It’s fair to say that, the USDA recommends you eat 15 Antioxidant Compounds a day… And Acai has sixteen compounds all in that one little berry! (At the least!)

Actually, that’s not a very fair comparison for Acai, because the 1-3 antioxidant compounds in the 5 random fruits will very likely overlap, and worse case scenario you’re only getting 2 or 3 Antioxidant compounds from your five daily fruits.

The final nail in the coffin of the “multiple fruits are necessary” line of thinking for me was hearing, again from Dr. Schuass, that there is at least one Amazon tribe that eats nothing but Acai. Complete “Acaitarians.” (Yes I made that word up.)

So for those who think that getting five different fruits a day is essential because of the different types of fiber or the other different compounds you get from variety, I say hogwash! People are living on just one fruit, as their only food source, for entire healthy lifetimes.

So what else can it be that we need variation of? It’s obviously the different compounds of Antioxidants. High ORAC scores of each one are great, but a high number of compounds in the first place is what makes Acai revolutionary.