Açaí Berries May Be Used In Ketogenic Power Bowls
Açaí berries— pronounced “ah-sigh-EE”— are slightly tart grape-like fruits that come from açaí palm trees from rainforests of South America. Açaí is often touted as a superfood, and indeed, the berries contain antioxidants (protects your body from free radicals), fiber, and healthy fatty acids.
Their dark purplish-red color may give you a clue as to their health benefits. Yes, they are very high in antioxidants, low in calories and sugar, and high in fiber. The dark purple color of the fruit means it contains lots of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant similar to blueberries, cranberries, and dark grapes.
Be careful when purchasing fresh prepared açaí bowls or smoothies at a coffee house or a juice bar as these may contain a lot of added sugars in form of fruits, fruit juices, and other add-ons.
Most of the health benefits of açaí berries are due to their very high antioxidant content. Açaí berries have one of the highest ORAC scores of all fruits (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity measures the amount of antioxidants in foods.). Açaí berries score far higher than goji berries or blueberries.
Açaí berries themselves, which spoil quickly, are rarely sold. Açaí is imported to the U.S. in its most commonly available in three forms:
Powder: Bags of açaí powder are available at most supermarkets. This powder can be blended into smoothies, bowls, yogurt, baked goods, and other dishes. It typically contains a concentrated amount of nutrients and fiber.
Puree: This is usually sold frozen, and it tends to be particularly flavorful.
Juice: Açaí juice is often mixed with other fruits, such as pomegranate or blueberry. Check the label to make sure extra sugar hasn't been added.
Commonly used to make smoothies or bowls, açaí is typically sold as a frozen purée, dried powder, or juice. The below listed USDA nutrition information is for puree only.
A 100-gram serving of açaí puree (half a cup) contains 6 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber, and no sugar.
Açaí berries are rich in fatty acids:
Oleic acid (a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid),
Palmitic acid (a long-chain fatty acid that is found in foods containing saturated fat, such as palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa), and
Linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid).
Açaí berries are not a significant source of any vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients.
Although açaí berries are widely promoted for their health benefits, there isn't strong scientific evidence to support the use of açaí for any any health-related purpose, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has taken action against companies that have marketed açaí weight-loss products in allegedly deceptive ways.
The available evidence suggests a relationship between açaí and these potential health benefits. But more consistent research in humans is needed before we know if açaí can produce any significant health outcome in humans.
Antioxidants help fight the aging effects of oxidation. Antioxidants in acai also help protect the cells’ DNA, so that potentially cancer causing damaged cells or mutated cells are minimized. Antioxidants in açaí berries also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while improving skin cell turnover.
Note that research on açaí berries is limited, and were conducted in the labs on animals. More research needs to be done with humans.
May Improve Brain Health
Age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other types of dementia are undoubtedly increasing. One of the risk factors is inflammation and inflammatory foods, especially vegetable oils, carbs, sugar and processed starchy foods. Because açaí is rich in antioxidants, it may have protective benefits for the brain.
One animal study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that frozen açaí pulp could improve cognitive and motor functions.
Another animal study, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, found that açaí helped improve memory in aging rats. This was likely the result of "its ability to influence antioxidant and anti-inflammatory signaling," the study authors wrote.
May Promote Heart Health
Açaí contains anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that has antioxidant effects and gives the fruit its purple color. One study found that anthocyanins can help prevent high blood pressure, and as a result, lower the risk of heart disease.
A limited pilot study published in Nutrition Journal found that consuming 100 grams of açaí pulp twice daily for one month helped cut cholesterol levels in people with excess weight.
May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
The Nutrition Journal's 10-person pilot study reported that açaí had a positive impact on participants' blood sugar levels. They saw reductions in fasting glucose and insulin levels following 30 days of consuming açaí. The study was very small, but the authors noted that the promising results warranted additional research.
May Help Prevent Cancer
According to a study in mice—which means it’s very preliminary—açaí pulp reduced the incidence of colon cancer. The study authors noted that the findings suggest that “the intake of açaí may be beneficial for the prevention of human colon cancer.”
Another study, also in mice, found açaí curbed bladder cancer. That was probably due to açaí's “potential antioxidant action,” the authors said. The researchers noted that additional research is needed in humans before drawing conclusions about açaí's benefits.
May Decrease Arthritis Symptoms
Anthocyanins, which are abundant in açaí (as well as fruits such as raspberries and blackberries) have an anti-inflammatory effect, according to the Arthritis Foundation.