The Acai Berry - The Super Supplement?

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?

 

References

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.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!

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