The Amazon Rainforest is home to the largest collection of animal and plant species in the world. One of the most promising plants to come out of the Amazon is the acai berry. What is acai? The acai berry is loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that make it one of the healthiest fruits on earth.
Acai’s components range from potent antioxidants to fatty acids. Perricone considers acai to be a true superfood that is anti-inflammatory and is an excellent tool for overall health.
This article will discuss:
- Acai at Work in the Body
- Key Components of Acai
Acai at Work in the Body
Acai has a powerful antioxidant effect that works to counteract inflammation and free radical damage within the body.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells when they seek out the missing electron they need to become stable. This process creates damaged DNA inside the cells. Cells with damaged DNA have a limited ability to reproduce and communicate with each other. This results in a lack of healthy new cells just when older cells are less able to perform their functions. Acai contains anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds belonging to a specialized group of nutrient rich pigments called flavonoids. Anthocyanins provide the extra electrons free radicals need so they don’t need to damage the cells in order to become stable.
The ability of an antioxidant to supply free radicals with an extra electron is measured by the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The recommended daily ORAC level is between 3,000 and 5,000; acai has an ORAC of 5,500 for every 100 grams of fruit. Blueberries and red grapes, which are also rich in anthocyanins, only possess ORAC scores of 2,250 and 550 per 100 grams, respectively.
Although it is an important part of the immune system, he inflammatory response also plays a crucial role in the aging process. It works to increase in blood flow to an infected or damaged area of the body. Cells expand to allow larger blood cells to pass through their membranes. This increases the proteins provided to the damaged area to support the immune system and clean away infection.
The problems arise when the inflammation doesn’t subside normally after the infection is gone. If chronic inflammation results, the cells remain swollen. Swollen cells can apply pressure to surrounding cells, eventually damaging them in turn. Normally a cellular trigger called the apoptosis response turns off injured cells so that they can’t continue to harm the cells around them. Cells with free radical-damaged DNA prevent the apoptosis response from happening. This means that damaged cells receive a “stay alive” signal and are able to continue harming their neighbors.
Acai’s ability to fight inflammation comes from two components: antioxidants and oleic acid. When anthocyanins fight damage from free radicals, it keeps cell DNA intact. Intact DNA signals correctly signals the apoptosis response and stops the inflammation. Oleic acid makes the cell walls more malleable, meaning that inflammatory toxins are able to leave the cell more readily. Also, blood is able to move through the cell walls more efficiently when inflammation does occur. Malleable cell membranes are better return to their normal state before inflammation can result in any long-term damage.
For information on Perricone’s Acai supplements, watch this video:
Key Components of Acai
- Omega Fatty Acids
Cells use omega fats to develop cell membranes and cell walls, but three healthy fats in particular are especially beneficial:
- Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in joints, tissues and the bloodstream, and according to Perricone, inflammation is one of the major causes of aging.
- Omega-6, another essential fatty acid that promotes the clotting ability in blood, supports skin health and lowers LDL cholesterol. However, if the level of Omega-6 exceeds that of Omega-3, then blood clots can build up in the bloodstream.
- Omega-9, although produced by the body in moderate amounts, is considered essential and functions as a monounsaturated oleic acid. Monounsaturated oleic acids, most commonly found in olive oil, promote malleability in cell membranes and assist cellular function productivity. Acai pulp contains 37.5 grams healthy unsaturated fats per every 100 grams serving.
There are two types of fiber, neither of which can be digested by the human body:
- Soluble fiber binds with fatty acids to slow the absorption of sugars in the stomach, thus helping to regulate blood sugar levels. It also reduces LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
- Insoluble fiber moves bulky matter through the intestines, also regulates pH levels, controls bacterial growth, reduces constipation, and lessens the chance for microbes to develop cancerous byproducts.
- Amino Acids
Acai berries contain an impressive 19 of the 20 total amino acids. This results in 8g of protein in every 100g serving of acai. Amino acids are an essential building block of life. They operate in almost every important biochemical process, especially in metabolism, because of their role in protein formation. Humans are only able to create 10 of the 20 amino acids, but need all of them for protein synthesis.
To get a sense of the large quantity of amino acids present in acai, here is a comparison of 16 of the 19 amino acids in acai with those found found in an egg (measurements are done in grams/100 grams in doses of amino acids):
*The human body cannot biosynthesize these Amino Acids. The only other amino acid not produced by the human body is asparagine.
Information for this study conducted by Laboratório Catarinense S/A a FDA Certified Pharmaceutical Laboratory July 2004.