Nutritional InfoNutritional Info
Note: US FDA Disclaimer
Recently the media has portrayed acai as the number 1 superfood. This is because the very high concentration of antioxidants, omega fatty acids and other good fats, carbs, fiber, amino acids and other nutrients is responsible for the many health benefits that acai has to offer. Below is a nutritional analysis of some quality freeze dried acai products such as the ones offered on this website:
Nutritional analysis (per 100g):
** Micronutrient — not a significant contribution by weight
Most of the media attention that has surrounded acai has been due to its extremely high level of antioxidants. However the carbohydrates (and fiber), “good” fats, amino acids and phytosterols also play a huge roll in the benefits of acai.
From the above analysis you can see the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, amino acids and other nutrients in acai. Below we will take a look at these components and discuss the benefits of each.
Antioxidants have received a lot of attention in the media. And probably with good cause. Oxidative stress is thought to contribute to a wide range of diseases including:
- heart disease
- rheumatoid arthritis
- neurological diseases
- other diseases
Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals which start chain reactions which can damage cells. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions and can therefore prevent cell damage. Antioxidants may also provide other benefits such as boosting the immune system and improving recovery of muscle damage due to oxidative stress due to activity. Popular supplements which contain oxidative properties are vitamins A, C and E.
Acai has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Although it’s just one of many, you can bet this is an important reason so many people believe the acai is the ultimate superfood. Something that isn’t as widely talked about is the fact that acia has a lot of anthocyanin, a particular antioxidant that’s harder to come by. When you use acai supplements, you help your body fight off:
- early aging
- bacterial infections
The yardstick for comparing antioxidant properties of foods is the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). And with an ORAC substantially higher than almost any other food, it is easy to see why acai is considered the number one superfood. According to data published in 2005 by the USDA in the journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, one could compare acaiâ€™s results to common fruits vegetables on a gram basis as shown in table below:
Phytosterols are plant sterols involved in fat metabolism. Acai contains a high concentration of a phytosterol called beta-sitosterol. Beta-sitosterol is thought to reduce blood levels of cholesterol and therefore prevent heart disease.
|Other carbs (sugars and complex)||8.0g|
In a 100 gram sample, there were 52.2 grams of carbohydrates — or just over half the weight of the sample. Of these carbohydrates, 44.2 grams were fiber. This is an enormous amount of fiber. But the benefits of fiber are many. It can help by:
- aiding in weight loss
- reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol
- reducing the risk of diabetes by lowering glucose levels
- reducing the chance of colorectal cancer
- preventing or relieving constipation
- lowering the risk of hemorrhoids, IBS
The remainder of the carbohydrates are sugars or complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are necessary for fueling normal activity.
The second highest component of acai was fat. But the majority of these fats are good fats — omega (unsaturated) fatty acids. The Omega-6 fatty acid is an essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids are those that cannot be manufactured by the body and can only be obtained through dietary intake. The following provides a further breakdown of the fats in acai:
|oleic acid||18.2g||(56% of the fats)|
|linoleic acid||4.2g||(13% of the fats)|
|palmitic acid||7.8g||(24% of the fats)|
Below we will look at the function of each type of fat.
Oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid)
Also known as omega-9 fatty acid, oleic acid is the same fat that makes up 55-80% of olive oil. Mediterranean diets which use a lot of healthy fats like olive oil have been known to reduce blood pressure and reduce the incidence of heart diseases like:
- heart attacks
Oleic acid may also aid in preventing some forms of cancer.
Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid)
Linoleic acid is also know as the omega-6 fatty acid. As mentioned above, this is an essential fatty acid that cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained through dietary intake. Deficiencies in this nutrient can cause:
- poor wound healing
- hair loss
- dry hair
The third major component of acai is amino acids. Amino acids are essential for life and play a variety of roles in metabolism. One very important role is to serve as the building blocks of protein. Along with carbohydrates and fats, the amino acids in acai make a complete food.
Acai is considered by many as the number one superfood because of the high concentration of antioxidants, fiber, “good” fats and other nutrients. These nutrients may help provide the following health benefits:
- Prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, etc) by:
- lowering blood cholesterol (fiber, beta-sitosterol)
- reducing blood pressure (oleic acid)
- reducing oxidative stress (antioxidants)
- general (polyphenols)
- Prevent diabetes by:
- lowering glucose levels (fiber)
- reducing oxidative stress (antioxidants)
- Reduce chance of:
- cancers (oleic acid, anthocyanins, polyphenols)
- colorectal cancer (fiber)
- leukemia (see university study) (antioxidants)
- Prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (antioxidants)
- Boost the immune system (antioxidants)
- Aid in recovery of muscle damage from oxidative stress due to exercise (antioxidants)
- Prevent neurological diseases (antioxidants, anthocyanins)
- Reduce bacterial infections (anthocyanins)
- Reduce afflictions due to chronic inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, etc (anthocyanins)
- Prevent damage to connective tissue (anthocyanins)
- Repair damaged blood vessel walls (anthocyanins)
- Improve vision (anthocyanins)
- Resist aging effects due to oxidative stress (anthocyanins)
- Prevent/relieve constipation (fiber)
- Aid in weight loss (fiber)
- Improve wound healing and prevent dry hair, hair loss (linoleic acid)
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