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The açaí, like many berries with similar characteristics, is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients, making it a effective reducer of free radicals. Therefore, the açaí helps to lessen the effects of aging and, thanks to its content of omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, protects against heart disease. Furthermore, this berry is made up of 40% fibre, and its high concentration of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetable fat makes it ideal for sportsmen and very active people.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that there is a link between the consumption of polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables and the reduction of some cancers. In an in vitro study performed at the University of Florida, the effects of the açaí berry polyphenols on human leukemic cells were examined. This research showed that an extract of these berries destroys cultured human cancer cells.
Additionally, the açaí contains ellagic acid which is considered to be the only proven substance to promote apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
Dietary fibre, monounsaturated fat and phytosterols promote cardiovascular health. Additionally, the açaí is a rich source of antioxidants called anthocyanins which are the same antioxidants that give red wine its healthy properties.
Anthocyanins are natural pigments with a polyphenolic structure that act as antioxidants and anti-free radicals, ensuring better circulation of the blood and preventing the accumulation of fat in the arteries (arteriosclerosis)*.
The açaí fruit can contain up to 44 mg/100 g of anthocyanins, a higher mount than other foods like strawberries (15 mg), plums (1.3-2.6 mg) or red wine (depending on the variety, red wine contains between 10.7 and 73 mg)**.
*According to the studies of Satué et al., 1997; Ghiselli et al., 1998 and Heinonen et al., 1998.
**According to the study of Profesor Hervé Rogez, UCL Belgium and UFPA Belem, year 2000.
The açaí is included within the category of superfruits (fruits with high content of antioxidants and nutrients, like cranberry or pomegranate) with more anti-aging power.
The Oxygen Radica Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a standardized test established by the US Department of Agriculture to measure the antioxidant potential of food. According to research by Tufts University in Boston, consuming many fruits and vegetables with a high ORAC value, such as spinach or açaí, helps slow the processes associated with aging in both the body and the brain.
As a result, the antioxidants found in the açaí help to prevent the effects of aging caused by oxidative stress due to normal body function (e.g., exercise) or external causes such as pesticides, pollutants, cigarette smoke, harmful effects of ultraviolet rays, etc.
According to conventional wisdom, the açaí is considered to be an aphrodisiac.
Additionally, in Brazil it is known as "natural viagra", since its high energy content gives vitality can help increase libido.
The açaí is made up of 40% fibre, a component that naturally suppresses the appetite. By stabilizing blood sugar, fibre found in the açaí keeps energy levels stable and, therefore, promotes the reduction of body fat. Additionally, insulin peaks are avoided which can convert excessive blood sugar into fatty tissue.
Furthermore, antioxidants accelerate the digestion process, which helps burn the saturated fat that body does not need. The omega fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins boost metabolic activity and promote calorie burning.
Its high concentration of carbohydrates, protein and fat make the açaí an ideal food for athletes and physically active people. One litre of açaí contains an average of 12.6 grams of protein, making up 25-30% * of the daily nutritional requirements.
Furthermore, its amino acid composition is similar to the egg. However, the vegetable proteins found in the açaí are easier to process into the muscles, giving off more of an energy boost.
Similarly, the açaí is rich in carbohydrates, which provide the body with the energy necessary for work or playing any sport.
*According to a study by Professor Hervé Rogez, UCL Belgium and UFPA Belem, 2000.
Acai berries contain ellagic acid, a compound that helps fight bacteria and viruses and, therefore, is ideal for strengthening defenses.
Recent scientific findings published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine indicate that açaí prevents immunosuppression and modulates lymphocyte activity.
As a significant source of calcium (133-286 mg/100 g), açaí can help prevent osteoporosis, especially in women, and combat menstrual pain.
The açaí contains sterols (beta-sitosterol) that have been proven* to be very effective in controlling cholesterol and prostate hyperplasia, an abnormal enlargement of the prostate that usually affects middle-aged men.
*RC Dedhia. The Journal of urology. June 2008 (Vol. 179, Issue 6, Pages 2119-2125 Elsevier). Phytotherapy for lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Anthocyanins and other antioxidants like vitamin A, found in açaí, have proven to be effective in improving vision.
In fact, during World War II, British fighter pilots were forced to consume large quantities of blueberries to improve their night vision.
Subsequent studies confirmed that these effects were due to their high levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins. Açaí contains two times more antioxidants than blueberries.
The açaí contains insoluble fibre in its skin. As a result, consuming this fruit can help prevent constipation and regulate bowel movements. Furthermore, the antioxidants found in this fruit help to mitigate the effects of acid reflux disease.
The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are key for nervous system development and, therefore, certain brain functions like visual acuity. For this reason, açaí can be beneficial for students, seniors or people with difficulty concentrating.
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in the açaí reduce inflammation and levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress. It also helps to block gluten, given that foods with high gluten content (especially those processed flours like pasta and bread, can cause inflammation of the intestinal tract, which in turn leads to the secretion of cortisol.
Açaí is a food with a low glycemic index (low GI); its level of assimilable glucides (glucose, fructose and sucrose) is relatively small. This means that, after consuming açaí the blood sugar level rises slowly, allowing for better control of glucose levels in diabetics.
One litre of açaí contains an average of 3.7 grams of sugar, only 11 kilocalories. It is, therefore, recommendable * for diabetics **, unlike most other fruits that are high in sugar.
* According to a study by Professor Hervé Rogez, UCL Belgium and UFPA Belem, 2000.
**The Açaí do Brasil brand has two varieties with fruit up, a fructose-based sweetener that allows for slower absorption, making them especially suitable for diabetics.
Sleep is driven by an innate process called circadian rhythm, which requires a release of hormones that tell the brain that the body is tired.
Vitamin B, which is very prevalent in açaí, helps regulate the release of these hormones (dopamine and serotonin) which participate in the sleep regulation processes. Additionally, the açaí berry contains amino acids, which help to relax tired muscles and promote restful sleep.