One way or the other you have heard about it, it takes number three among the fruit juices in the supermarkets after oranges and pomegranates. I am talking about Acai. In “The Perricone Promise,” Dr. Nicholas Perricone hones it the number one superfood. What is all the buzz?
Have you heard of acai?
I had the privilege to hear Dr. Alex Schauss, world’s foremost acai berry researcher and senior director of natural and medicinal products research for American Institute for Biosocial and Medical Research (AIBMAR). He is one of the first scientists who discovered the nutritional benefits of the amazing Acai berry. Dr. Schauss was the first to perform an ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) analysis on the Acai berry.
But first, let me tell you a story about how the natives of Brazil discovered the Acai palm tree...
There was a village in the Amazon region that was rapidly increasing in population which led to food becoming scarce. The tribe leader, Itaki, declared that no woman may bear a child and if she did, the baby would be sacrificed. Shortly after, Itaki's daughter, Iaca learned that she was pregnant. When her father heard about it, he was both excited and abhorred because he knew that this child would be treated the same as all others during this trying time.
The child was born and sacrificed; Iaca was devastated--she cried day and night and did not eat anything for days. One of the nights in her hut, she heard her daughter's cry from the jungle. Iaca ran into the forest and found her daughter by the side of a slender palm tree. Attempting to embrace her child, the image disappeared. Her tribe’s people found her the next day dead but with a smile on her face. Her eyes were still wide open looking up at the bountiful dark purple fruits on top of the palm tree. They started eating the berries, satisfied their hunger and renewed their energy.
Itaki declared that the fruit would be named after his daughter Iaca. They just spelled Iaca backwards and called it Acai.
History proved this was an acai palm, which can be enjoyed by eating the hearts of palm or acai berries.
Dr. Schauss’ studies have shown that this little berry is one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world! People could live on if for months and be well nourished. The taste of the berry is something like a vibrant blend of berries and chocolate. Hidden within its royal purple pigments is the magic that makes it nature’s perfect energy fruit. Acai is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. In our local supermarket it appeared mostly in form of juice blends, or as freeze dried powder. The reason being, as Dr. Schauss explained is, that the berries are spoiling very rapidly upon harvest.
The University of Florida (2006) conducted a series of tests on the Brazilian acai palm berry. The results showed that the high levels of antioxidants found in the berries are capable of destroying cultured human cancer cells.
Here are some the health benefits of the acai berry:
· Remarkable concentration of antioxidants that help combat anti-aging.
· Synergy of mono-unsaturated fats (healthy), dietary fiber, and phytosterols, to help promote cardiovascular benefits and digestive tract health.
· Low glycemic (sugar) index which makes it ideal for diabetics
· Perfect essential amino acid complex equal to the protein of an egg.
· Valuable trace minerals, vital to muscles.
· Increases energy and stamina
· Boots immune system
Another important benefit of the discovery of the acai is the influence on the Brazilian ecosystem. The rainforest has been destroyed at a rapid rate; according to the Brazilian government the Amazon will have lost 25% of its original area by 2020 through deforestation, mostly for clearing land for farming and harvesting the palm tree for lumbar and the heart of palm. Since the palm tree can be harvested for the acai year after year, no trees have to be cut down which will help the world’s climate as well.
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with this specific information. I just wanted to give you a short introduction to how food and nutrition can influence our state of health. Small adjustments in our diet may not show up until later in life, but in the long-run can add years to our lives. Prevention is the best cure. Let’s help each other to stay well.
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