Role of the Acai berry in health
The Acai berry is the fruit of the Euterpe oleraceae palm tree and is red/purple in colour and approx 1 inch in length. Berries come in all shapes and sizes and are great for our health; they are a highly concentrated source of polyphenols and flavanoids, particularly the anthocyanin variety of polyphenol which are potent antioxidants. Berries that contain large quantities of these antioxidants, such as the Acai berry, have been proven to be effective at preserving health. They can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce LDL oxidation (oxidation leads to arterial plaque), and reduce peroxidation of fats reducing the number of circulatory free radicals. Free radicals are detrimental to heart health and potentially encourage the onset of some cancers. Alongside this, the vitamin and antioxidant content of the Acai berry means it’s effective at maintaining skin integrity, in turn slowing the ageing process (Basu, Rhone and Lyons, 2010).
Role in weight loss and training
Fruits and berries are known to aid weight loss due to their relative low calorie content, high fibre concentration and their vitamin content (vitamin C is needed for the synthesis of Carnitine) which promotes the metabolism of fat for energy. The Acai berry is in fact the richest source of vitamin C known to man, containing 15-22% vitamin C making it an ideal food/supplement for fitness, healthfulness and vitality. Alongside this, besides the Avocado Acai berries are one of the few fruits that contain monounsaturated fatty acids, meaning they also positively contribute to heart health and lowering cholesterol. The unfortunate condition that is ‘overtraining’ is all too common in exercisers, and in fact, many of us don’t realise we are doing it. A consequence of overtraining is the excessive release of the stress hormones such as cortisol and the accumulation of free radicals leading to oxidative stress. The Acai berry can go some way in limiting the oxidative process associated with training too much without enough rest, and speeding up the recovery process (Mertens-Talcott, Rios, Stohlawetz et al. 2008)!
When the health benefits are added up and applied to fitness, the Acai berry is very hard to ignore or merely fob off as an ‘alternative’ health supplement. The mechanisms behind the claims surrounding the Acai berry regarding health and weight loss are robust and very real. Therefore the consumption of the Acai berry (or Acai extract) alongside a balanced diet and regular training regimen, is a highly effective means of optimising health and maximising your training potential. Could the Acai berry be a super food that you’re currently missing out on?
Basu, A., Rhone, M., & Lyons, T, J. (2010). Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutrition Reviews. 3: 168-177.
Mertens-Talcott, U., Rios, J., Stohlawetz, P., Pacheco-Palencia, L, A., Meibohm, B., Talcott, S, T. & Derendorf, H. (2008). Pharmacokinetics of Anthocyanins and Antioxidant Effects after the Consumption of Anthocyanin-Rich Açai Juice and Pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in Human Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 17: 7796- 7802.