The acai berry has received more than its fair share of marketing and publicity. With a world looking for magic pills and cure-alls there has been many people taken for a ride with substandard acai products and sketchy claims. This really is a shame because the acai berry is an exceptionally nutritious fruit with proven health benefits, there is no need overextend or make up health benefits for it! It really can help with a variety of health disorders provided you get a quality product.
The powerful antioxidants in the acai berry, called anthocyanins, are a key ingredient in the healing properties of the acai berry. Also found in red wine (although the acai berry has 20 times the anthocyanins in red wine), anthocyanins are believed to be part of the heart healthy properties of this alcoholic beverage. They help to prevent damage to our arteries that can lead to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and possible strokes and heart attacks. Another possible health benefit is the role of the anthocyanins in the acai berry for helping to protect us from cancer.
Anthocyanins and Cancer
One of the causes of cancer that is gaining more and more weight and acceptance in the medical field is the role of free radical damage of our cells. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that are left over from natural metabolic processes that go on within us all the time. They are only a problem when we have more of them in our bodies than the antioxidants of our immune system can handle. The problem these days is that we are generally getting less antioxidants in our diets coupled with an increase of free radicals in the environment as a result of pollution. Pesticides, gas emissions, smoking and industrial discharge greatly increase the amount of free radicals in our environment.
This is where the acai berry can be a great help because it is our greatest known food source of anthocyanins and anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that protect us from free radical damage. Acai berries rank very high on the ORAC chart, which is a scoring system for how effective a food source is at fighting off free radicals. In fact the fresh acai berry actually ranks higher than any other fruit with an ORAC score 5,500. Blueberries, which are also a good source of anthocyanins, take second place with a score of 2,400. So we can see just how effective the acai berry is at defending our cells and protecting us from possible developments of cancer.
Because the acai berry spoils very quickly the fresh berry is not available to us (unless we live in Brazil!) but we can find quality organic products in most health food stores. Dried acai powder and acai juice are the two most common forms we can choose from. Be careful of mixed acai berry juice products. They often contain lots of other fruits and very little acai.