Wednesday, July 25, 2012
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF ACAI
and Dr Perricone named it as the number one superfood. Yet the jury is still out on the actual health benefits of the fruit beyond the traditional health benefits of fruit in general.
The acai, pronounced ah-sigh-ee, contains anthocyanins and flavonoids. The anthocyanins are responsible for the dark color of the fruit and like any dark colored blue to purple fruit has benefits that include fighting cancer. The word anthocyanin actually comes from the fact combination of two Greek words. One word means blue and the other means plant.
Both anthocyanins and flavonoids help the body by preventing oxidation caused by free radicals. These powerful antioxidants prevent destruction of the cells that causes both disease and aging.
Free radicals are simply atoms with an odd number of electrons. Since electrons come in pairs, the atom seeks out easily accessible electrons and these often come from the outer shell of the cell. The loss of the electron changes the semi-permeable membrane to a hard coating and prevents osmosis of nutrition into the cell and elimination of waste from the cell. Eventually the cells die or the DNA damages and changes to a cancerous cell. Antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and flavonoids give up their electrons to protect the cells outer membrane.
While many dark fruits contain antioxidants, the acai berry contains far more than other highly touted dark fruits like the grape or blueberry. In fact, it contains as much as 10 times more antioxidants than one of its rivals, the red grape. It also has up to 30 times more anthocyanins than red wine.
The antioxidant properties are not all the benefits of the acai berry. This small fruit that's a relative of the cranberry and blueberry contains healthy fat, the monounsaturated fat that helps lower bad cholesterol levels. It also contains dietary fiber and phytosterols, which also help the cardiovascular system.
One study done on cancer cells in a test tube found that the acai berry set off the self-destruct mechanism in leukemia cells. The response to the berry showed as much as an 86 percent trigger rate on the cancer cells. However, there are no studies aside from this one conducted at the University of Florida and published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in the January 12, 2006 issue. Until there's a study on the effects of acai on cancer cells growing in the body, the jury remains out on it's effects on cancer. One thing for sure, it certainly can't hurt the cancer patient and the additional vitamins and minerals may improve his health.
Acai also contains a complex of essential amino acids and minerals that are almost perfect to improve muscle regeneration and contraction. When you include this with all the other information already known on the acai berry, it points in a healthy direction. However, until more studies prove what scientists suspect, the jury is still out on the health benefits of acai.