Everyone should eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Scientific evidence reveals that fruits and vegetables, which are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients, can help prevent disease and boost overall health. Recently, several novel fruits have gained popularity throughout America for their incredible nutritional value. These “superfruits” include acai berry, mangosteen, goji berry and the more familiar pomegranate.
The acai berry is small purple fruit that is as great tasting as it is healthy, thanks to its high content of powerful antioxidants. Acai is native to the swamps and floodplains of Central and South America, but today acai products – capsules, powders, juices and more – are readily available from health food stores. Web sites and even warehouse clubs.
The main sources of antioxidants is acai are anthocyanins, the pigments that give the berries their purple color. Acai contains 10 to 33 times the amount of anthocyanins found in red wine, which researchers have studied for its role in preventing heart disease. Acai is more than a source of antioxidants – the berry also contains amino acids, unsaturated fats and phytosterols, all of which promote health throughout the entire body.
Nutritional Benefits of Acai
Acai contains beta-sitosterol and other valuable phytosterols. Phytosterols, also referred to as plant sterols, are natural substances with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol. Phytosterols are found in plant cells and membranes and provide numerous benefits to the human body: they reduce harmful cholesterol levels; they may support immune system health; they may even be an effective treatment for benign prostate hyperplasia, a common condition among middle-aged and elderly men.
Acai is rich in calcium, vitamins C and E, unsaturated fats, iron, manganese, chromium, copper and boron. The acai berry is so rich in nutrients, it could almost be considered a multivitamin in the form of a fruit!
Acai and Health
Acai’s abundant nutrients have important effects on your health.
Fiber for Digestive Support and Cancer Prevention
Acai is an excellent source of fiber. Research demonstrates that a high-fiber diet can help protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Many people only get about half the fiber they need each day, but adding acai and other fruits and vegetables to the diet can help fill that gap.
Many health experts believe that inflammation, which occurs as a result of disease, injuries and autoimmune disorders (when the body attacks its own tissues), may contribute to the development of some chronic diseases. Acai contains powerful antioxidants that help alleviate inflammation by neutralizing enzymes that attack connective tissues.
Protection for Blood Vessels
Free radicals damage the endothelial cells that line blood vessel walls. This damage eventually leads to a buildup of arterial plaque, which can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. By protecting endothelial cells from free radicals, the anthocyanins in acai support blood vessel health and protect against cardiovascular disease.
Effects of Diabetes
Diabetic retinopathy is a severe complication of diabetes in which elevated blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the eye. Severe cases of retinopathy may cause blindness; in fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Anthocyanins protect against this capillary damage by preventing free radical damage to the circulatory system.