What are the Uses and Benefits of the “Superfood” Açaí? By Melissa Stevener
Euterpe Oleracea Palm • Fruit grows on Açaí palm trees • Genus of palm trees originated in tropical Central and South America • Primarily found in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit • Small, round drupe (~1 in in diameter) • Dark purple color • Grows on branches in clusters • 2 crops are produced per year • Seed makes up about 80% of fruit
Uses of Açaí • Traditionally consumed by Amazonian populations as a major food source • Juice and pulp of fruit often used in beverages, such as sodas, smoothies, and wines • Leaves used to make hats, mats, baskets, and brooms • Seeds used to make jewelry
Uses of Açaí • Pulp also used developed for facial application as anti-aging treatment • Fruit and pulp traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal problems • Currently being tested as a dyeing or contrasting agent in preparation of MRI scans of the gastrointestinal tract • Anti-inflammatory
Support Immune System Increase energy, libido, and stamina Anti-inflammatory agent Alleviates diabetes Detoxifies body Improves circulation Promote healthy skin and hair Improves digestive function Helps maintain healthy heart function Slows down aging process Fights cancer? Benefit Claims
Beauty Benefits • Acting as an antioxidant, Açaí fights off cellular mutation, which causes wrinkles • Anthocyanins prevent oxidants from causing connective tissue damage while also repairing proteins
Beauty Benefits • Flavanoids combat inflammation and also act as astringent to tone skin • Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids aid in cell contraction and regeneration • Phytosterols preserve collagen
Health Benefits • Fruit contains one of the highest levels of anthocyanins of any known edible fruit (10x the amount of grapes) • These anthocyanins, which give the fruit its deep purple color, are powerful antioxidants • Antioxidants reduce free radicals
Health Benefits • Rich in Vitamins… • Vitamin A • Vitamin B1 • Vitamin E • …and Amino acids • Glutamic Acid • Aspartic Acid
Health Benefits • Great source of dietary fiber • Helps food move through digestive system • High monounsaturated fat content • Oleic acid helps Omega 3 fatty acids penetrate cell membranes • This enables several chemical reactions in the body to work more efficiently
Health Benefits • Contains plant sterols (phytosterols) that help lower cholesterol, maintain heart health, and maintain digestive function
Health Benefits • The results of study at the University of Florida in Gainsville give evidence that Açaí may fight cancerous cells • The study looked at the effects of the polyphenolics present in the fruit on HL-60 human leukemia cells • Anthocyanins with polyphenolics were compared to those without polyphenolics.
Health Benefits • Polyphenolic fractions reduced leukemia cell proliferation by 56-86%. • Polyphenolics with Anthocyanin did not have additional affect. • This reduction in cell proliferation is most-likely due to the activation of caspase-3, which causes apoptosis.
Convinced? • If you want to buy Açaí… • It is not usually found in local supermarkets • However, there are several sources on the internet for the purchasing this “superfood” • It can also be found in many health food stores
Resources • Dunlap, Karen. “Breakthrough ‘Acai Anti-aging Facial’ Applies Benefits of Nature’s Super-food to the Skin”. http://0-proquest.umi.com.ucark.uca.edu:80/pqdweb?did=1428938781&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=8427&RQT=309&VName=PQD. Biotech Week. Feb 20, 2008. • “Superfood No. 1: Acai”. http://www.oprah.com/presents/2005/young/life/life_acai.jhtml. 2008. • Poso-Insfran, David. Et al. “Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) Polyphenolics in Their Glycoside and Aglycone Forms Induce Apoptosis of HL-60 Leukemia Cells”. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. January 12, 2006. • “Acai Special Report”. http://www.powersupplements.com/acai/acai-berries.html. 2007. • “Acai Berry Provides Disease-Fighting Benefits No Doctor Wants You to Know!”. http://www.acai.vg/.