Fruits

Acai Benefits – Do you know what its main properties are?

The acai berry  is a  fruit of Amazonian origin and one of the most popular functional foods of the region and is widely consumed around the world. Açaí extracts have a range of polyphenolic components with antioxidant properties, which reinforces the theories that açaí is good for your health.

Considered an excellent food to replenish energy, açaí has ​​many other benefits.

People all over the world are showing more interest in using natural herbal products to treat ailments rather than synthetic products.

The health benefits of açaí are associated with its chemical composition, including the presence of bioactive substances such as phenolic compounds, flavonoids and anthocyanins.

Of the polyphenols present in greater quantities, it is possible to mention orientin, isoerythine and vanillic acid. The presence of these substances is mainly linked to antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects.

In the last decade, there has been a notable increase in the use of açaí and an energy drink, with simultaneous studies showing its anti-aging property and the presence of bioactive compounds, leading to a significant increase in scientific research during this period. Currently, the açaí fruit is one of the most studied by researchers, being very present in the food market, in addition to pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Many studies have been carried out to evaluate different pharmacological activities using açaí from the Amazon region. The antioxidant activity of the pulp is the most evaluated by different tests.

Anthocyanins are important plant pigments that belong to a class of phenolic compounds collectively called flavonoids. The phenolic structure of anthocyanin can confer antioxidant properties through the donation or transfer of electrons from hydrogen atoms.

Studies suggest that increased consumption of anthocyanins decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of mortality among men and women.

AÇAÍ: TREE AND HISTORY

The açaí tree, or açaizeiro, popularly known as açaí-do-pará is part of the palm family.

The word “ açaí ” (this being the correct spelling, not “ açai” ) comes from indigenous peoples and means “fruit that cries”.

There are two main species of the genus Euterpe that produce açaí.

The genus Euterpe has about 28 species located in Central and South America distributed throughout the Amazon basin. The three species that occur most frequently are E. oleracea , E. precatoria and E. edulis . However, only the first two are marketed for their fruit. The main difference between the two is how the palms grow.

Biological activities have been described in studies on açaí for both E. oleracea and E. precatoria species Despite many published articles, few studies make reference to different species of açaí. Although both are widely used by the population, they exhibit different chemical compositions.

Açaí pulp has received a lot of attention in recent years as one of the new “superfruits”. The consumption of açaí from the Amazon has increased, mainly due to the benefits that are being publicized by scientific works. The species of the genus Euterpe have a high economic potential, mainly due to the use of their fruits in the preparation of drinks exported all over the world as energy drinks.

The açaí tree was identified as a palm tree of great cultural, economic and social importance in the northern region of Brazil. Initial studies involving the biological activities of açaí were based on the description of its popular use by Amazonian communities. The main parts that were listed for medicinal use were the leaves and roots, which, according to popular wisdom, had anti-inflammatory and antimalarial activities, this information being later confirmed by scientific studies.

ACAI: NUTRITIONAL TABLE

Acai is characterized by a high concentration of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and potassium, in addition to vitamins and minerals, as can be seen in its nutritional table, based on 100g of fruit pulp, which offers 247 calories.

protein3.8 gVitamin B1360 mg
fats12.2 gCalcium118 mg
Carbohydrates36.6 gIron11.8 mg
Fibers2.6 gVitamin C17.0 mg
Potassium124 mgPhosphor0.5mg

AÇAÍ: BENEFITS AND HARMS

Even with several beneficial properties , açaí should be consumed in moderation and may be contraindicated in some cases. See below.

Benefits of acai

1. Anti-diabetic effect – human studies have reported that consumption of frozen acai pulp twice a day for 1 month reduced fasting glucose levels. But stay tuned! Most commercial açaí juices contain added sugars, which may interfere with blood glucose control

2.Anti-inflammatory effect – an in vitro study made from the açaí pulp showed selective inhibitory activity against molecules involved in inflammatory processes.

3.Cholesterol control – human studies reported that consumption of frozen acai pulp twice a day for 1 month reduced total and LDL (bad cholesterol) cholesterol, as well as the ratio of cholesterol to HDL (good cholesterol)

4. Anticancer – according to some researchers, fruits rich in polyphenols, such as açaí, are classified as chemopreventive agents, because they can suppress or prevent the formation of reactive oxygen species, responsible for generating genetic mutations, genomic instability and carcinogenesis in different target organs.

5. Potassium – Due to its high potassium content, açaí should be consumed with caution when in association with agents that can increase potassium levels.

acai harm

  • It has a large amount of carbohydrates, being contraindicated for people with diabetes.
  • When consumed in excess, acai can raise cholesterol and blood sugar.
  • Most commercially available acai options are sold with a variety of additives, including syrups and glucose, which offer no nutritional benefit and greatly increase the amount of calories and carbohydrates in the serving.

BENEFITS OF AÇAÍ IN BODYBUILDING AND IN THE PRACTICE OF AEROBIC ACTIVITIES

Research has revealed that extreme muscle exercise is associated with substantially increased production of free radicals and so-called reactive oxygen species, considered to be factors that may contribute to exercise-induced muscle damage.

This increases the requirements for exogenous antioxidant nutrients for those who are physically active.

Research has mostly shown that antioxidant supplements do not improve performance, but there is a lot of evidence that supplementing with natural antioxidants can limit or even prevent exercise-induced tissue damage, as well as help athletes recover from induced oxidative damage. by free radicals.

More specifically, a study carried out with young athletes showed that the consumption of açaí for six weeks led to an increase in the antioxidant capacity in the blood of these individuals, in addition to a decrease in cholesterol and a moderate attenuation of muscle damage. These results confirm the benefits of açaí, which is an ally in the practice of bodybuilding.

USES OF AÇAÍ

Scientists have recorded 22 different uses for all parts of the tree. The fruit is used as a natural paint or dye, and the wood is used in house construction (palm roofs). Alcoholic beverages are prepared by extracting the juice from the pulp and skin of the fruit.

In the Brazilian Amazon, indigenous forest tribes cut down the tree and ate the palm heart, turned the fruit into a juice drink, and used the mature palm trees to build the roofs of their homes.

The açaí species E. precatoria is widely used by the local population of the Amazon. The leaf stem is used against snake bites and muscle pain, while the leaf is used to relieve chest pain. The seeds are used to prepare a dark green oil, popularly used as an anti-diarrheal agent. Most of the reported applications describe the use of the plant’s roots by the population of different countries in Latin America and the main activity is related to its use against malaria. In Bolivia, the roots are traditionally used to treat inflammatory processes. They are given in the form of a syrup to relieve severe muscle pain, back pain or sciatica or even liver pain, and also as a general tonic.

The roots of E. oleracea used in Guyana as an anti-malarial agent in medicine, but always in combination and preferably with other medicinal plants. In addition to this activity, there are reports that these species are also used as a treatment against subcutaneous Leishmaniasis by the population of French Guyana.

AÇAÍ: RECIPE AND HOW TO PREPARE

The ideal for health is to consume açaí pulp “in natura”. This one, however, is not very tasty. What can be done is to use natural ingredients instead of industrialized ones to make it taste better. One option is to add ripe fruit and honey, which will add more nutrients and flavor to your recipe.

The first step is to find a good pulp supplier, which could be a supermarket or health food store. To find out if what you are buying is pure açaí pulp, compare the nutritional table shown above with the one on the package.

Once this is done, follow the following step-by-step:

AÇAÍ: HOW TO PREPARE

  1. Select two ripe bananas, an apple and add to a blender along with the açaí pulp and a little water.
  2. Add powdered guarana or honey (optional)
  3. Beat these ingredients together and then add a little ice until it has an ice cream consistency.

Serve in a bowl and add your preferred fruit.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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