Acai Benefits: True or Just Good Marketing?

The acai berry doesn't look so remarkable at first glance - it actually looks an awful lot like the blueberry. But this exotic superfood has a lot more going for it than your average blueberry - or any berry for that matter.

'Though it's relatively new to the Western market, it's quickly moved its way up and is one of the most popular superfoods - especially among those looking to get fit, stay young and more importantly, look young.

But before we get to its superfood powers and whether the little acai lives up to the hype, let's find out a little about what it is.

What is Acai?

The acai (pronounced "ah-sigh-ee") berry grows on a sort of palm tree that's native to the Amazon basin of South and Central America.

The berries have been used by Brazilian natives for thousands of years for the energy boost it provides as well as for its ability to speed up recovery.

It's even rumored that the acai berry's exceptionally high nutritional content helped sustain natives during famines.​

acai benefits

Acai berries are still popularly consumed in Brazil but for slightly different reasons - the locals call it the "Beauty Berry" since its antioxidant, amino acid, and healthy fat content slows the aging process and contributes to healthy skin, hair, and nails from the inside out.

But beauty and anti-aging benefits are just one benefits of acai berries - they do so much more. The trick is distinguishing which claims are real and which are little more than clever marketing hype. 

Acai Benefits: Are the Benefits of Acai True or False?​

Acai berries have been reported to do everything from protecting against cancer to helping you lose stubborn pounds...but which of these ​acai benefits are real? Read on to find out!

1. Acai ranks among the best anti-aging foods

This is both true and one of the best acai benefits. 

Anti-aging creams and lotions only go so far - the best changes come from within. And acai berries are at the top of the list of anti-aging foods.

Experts have come up with the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) level to measure the free radical-fighting ability of fruit and vegetables. Acai's ORAC level is nearly 100,000 (averaging 99,700, to be exact), while the ORAC level for wild blueberries is 9,621 and the ORAC level for cultivated blueberries ranges between 4,633 to 5,802. 

At its simplest, free radicals are molecular elements that set off tissue damage leading to premature aging and disease.

Now while the body is naturally equipped to fend them off, it can have difficulty keeping them at bay if their numbers become overwhelming due to toxins, pollutants, stress (all of which most of us encounter in our daily environment).

benefits of acai

Anthocyanins are basically the acai's secret weapon when it comes to staving off free radicals. They are red, violet or blue flavonoid pigments in plants that double duty as one of the most effective antioxidants in nature.

But on top of its super rich antioxidant content, acai has also been found to contain a range of 50 to 75 active plant compounds that are unique to the acai berry. These compounds have yet to identified, but experts speculate much of the acai berry's exceptional beauty benefits may be due to those compounds.

Key point: Acai has far more free radical and age fighting anthocyanins than any other food - its ORAC level is over 3,500, giving it a super antioxidant punch that you won't find in any other fruit or veggie.​

2. Acai is the Ideal 'Beauty Berry'

Very true - one of the most notable acai berry benefits is ​that these berries are great for hair, skin, and nails. 

​For such itty bitty things, acai berries are ridiculously nutritious - and much of them are beauty-boosting nutrients.

acai benefits

The deep purple color of the berries is a give-away to its super-rich antioxidant (anthocyanin) content.

But it's also packing a medley of other antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids, like resveratrol, cyanidin-3-galactoside, ferulic acid, delphinidin, epicatechin, protocatechuic acid, and ellagic acid.

And it's not just its antioxidant richness that makes it an ideal beauty supplements - acai berries are also exceptionally rich in healthy fats - omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids which keep cell membranes supple, the skin and hair healthy and strong, and even support heart health while keeping inflammation at bay.

These tiny, nutrient-dense berries are even packing protein - more grams, ounce per ounce, than an egg - as well as fiber and a vast array of vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

​Key point: Acai berries are nutritionally dense in beauty-boosting nutrients like healthy fats and essential minerals. 

Based on everything we've researched and experienced regarding the acai berry - its TOP benefits are beauty-related (as well as general health, i.e. antioxidant protection from free radical and oxidative damage).

All the claims that acai berry is the cure-all for everything from diabetes to arthritis is mostly unfounded marketing hype. But if you're looking for healthier, stronger hair and nails as well as youthful, supple skin - acai berries should be at the top of your beauty supplements list.

That being said, acai berries' benefits are not only beauty-based...

3. ​Acai Boosts Energy Levels

Acai berries are rich in energy-giving B vitamins as well as a range of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, which play a key role in the proper storing and usage of energy your body needs to so you won't feel sluggish, especially during strenuous, endurance activities.

This is especially great since many of these amino acids are typically found only in dairy, meat, nut and soy-based products - making acai a smart choice for those looking for vegan sources of amino acids.​

4. Acai Berries Promote Healthy Digestion

Apart from being packed with fiber, the pulp and skin of Acai berries also contain very rich amounts of the antioxidants ferulic acid and resveratrol that help keep the digestive system running smoothly.

This means that your body won't have a problem breaking down food particles and can also absorb as much healthy nutrients from them in the process.

what is acai berry

The numerous fatty acids in Acai can help stave off constipation as well as alleviate digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).​

5. Acai Improves Cholesterol

Fiber also helps do away with low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or bad cholesterol, which can lead to health issues like hypertension, heart attack, stroke and a number of cardiovascular problems sooner or later if not properly controlled.​

6. Acai Berries are Great for Heart Health

Acai berries are packed with an impressive array of essential fats like Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids that play a significant role when it comes to keeping the heart and nervous system healthy.

As you know, omega fatty acids are considered "essential" because your body can't make them so you need to get it from the foods you eat.

And there are two ways to do this - you can eat fish, nuts, and select fruits and vegetables several times daily to get your ideal share of these essential fats. Or you can simply load up on the naturally Omega fatty acid-rich Acai berries.​

Acai Berry Weight Loss: Does it work?

Obesity is a growing problem in the developed world (no pun intended). Everyone is looking for a get-thin-quick miracle cure. And most marketers are smart enough to cash in on this.

acai berry weight loss: does it work?

Thus, all the hype surrounding acai berry as the best weight loss product ever.

But if you're wondering if it actually works, let us put it to you this way: Acai is packed with a lot of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients that help promote maintaining overall health and wellness.

But there's essentially nothing else about it that supports its claims to accelerate fat burning and weight loss. There are ongoing scientific and medical studies that are trying to get to the bottom of this but as of now, there are no known special weight-loss-boosting components of acai berry.

Not to mention that the actual acai berry content in most of these products is tiny, to say the least. ​

We honestly don't understand why acai berries were chosen to be marketed as a weight loss product, especially since there are several, highly effective weight-loss-promoting superfoods - like chlorogenic acid-rich green coffee beans, metabolism and energy-boosting coconut oil, calorie-light and nutrient-dense chia seeds, belly-fat-reducing apple cider vinegar, and ECGC-packed matcha.

So if you're looking to accelerate weight loss - skip the acai and go for the above superfoods instead. But if you're looking for healthier hair, skin, and know which berries to pick.

Acai Berry Powder vs Acai Berry Juice?

So you want to pick up some acai berry and you're wondering whether the acai powder or the acai juice is better. Luckily, there's an easy answer. 

Acai juice, 'though convenient, does not offer anywhere near as much antioxidant power as the freeze-dried acai berry powder.

the best acai berry powder to buy

​In fact, you'll get more antioxidants drinking red wine than you will by drinking acai juice. 

So if antioxidants are what you're after - get thee the acai powder. ​

Where to Buy Acai Berry

​Unfortunately, the only place you'll be able to get your hands on fresh acai berries is Brazil. So unless you're one of the lucky peoples living in that part of the world, freeze-dried acai berry powder is your best option. 

There are really two main things to consider when you're hunting for the best acai powder: 

  1. Is it freeze-dried? According to Gary Stoner, a medicine professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin,freeze-dried berries retained 90 percent of their anthocyanins (antioxidant compounds that give berries their color and their cancer-fighting power). Other nutrients, such as vitamins C and E and folic acid, are a bit depleted through the freeze-drying process but once rehydrated, freeze-dried food is similar in nutritional value to fresh food. 
  2. Is it organic?​ Berries don't really have a protective cover and since it's the whole berry that is freeze-dried and ground into powder, you want to make sure you're not getting a heap of pesticides and toxins along with your antioxidants. Go organic. 

Here are our top acai berry powder picks...

best acai berry powder

Terrasoul is pretty new to the superfood supplements scene, but their products are consistently top-notch. 

And their freeze-dried acai berry powder is no exception - tastes great, blends great, is 100% organic and non-GMO. Yum. ​

where to buy acai berries

Sambazon's been the reigning go-to acai berry powder for awhile. It's 100% organic and freeze-dried, and made in the USA. 

The only drawback is that this powder does not mix well via the stir-spoon-in-water method so blend it with your smoothies. ​

About the Author Jessica

After growing up a perpetually pudgy kid, Jessica discovered real food - and her waistline shortly afterward. When she's not crafting concoctions in the kitchen, she spends her free time writing about food, making her own deodorant, watching sci-fi, doing headstands, and looking for gluten free food that doesn't suck.

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