Acai berry - a Powerful Antioxidant and More
The acai palm (cabbage palm, guasai, hsabis, palmito, panan, wasei) belongs to the Eyterpe genus and is native to Central and South America. It grows up to 25 meters high and is the source of the dark purple berries known all over the world for their strong antioxidant properties and other health benefits. The acai berries (pronounced as a-sigh-e) grow in clusters in 700-900 fruits on tope of the palm. The berries are around 25 mm in diameter and carry big seeds making up 80 percent of the fruit itself. The berries are carefully picked by Amazonas by previously cutting the branches from the tree. Unfortunately, the highly valued properties of acai berries juice have a short lifespan of 24 hours, so they need to be immediately transported to the market and the consumer.
Acai palm usually grows in floodplains and swamps. Damp areas of Amazon are the best habitat for the plant. Each year it produces two crops, common amount of the berries making up 20 kg. Men in harvesting teams climb the tree and skillfully pluck berries to provide fast transportation to the places where the fruits are processed.
Acai’s fruit is the major source of all the preparations and market forms of the plant. Both juice and pulp of fruits are used in a variety of market forms and preparations. In traditional folk use acai berry is consumed fresh and served as an addition to food, salted or sweetened. After the berries have been picked, they are frozen, dried, or freeze-dried. Stem of the plant (its soft inner part) is sometimes used as food, in salads in particular. Root is used medicinally and most commonly found in a form of decoction.
Acai is available at market in a number of varied forms – powder, capsules, and drinks. It is a popular component in energy beverages, yoghurts, ice cream and granola bars.
The power of antioxidant content of acai berry exceeds that of the grapes 10 times, and thus makes it a strong source of anti-aging properties. The berry is rich in fatty acids (omega 3,6,9 fats) that work on reducing the cholesterol levels in blood to promote cardiovascular health. Amino acid content is also represented in acai in high amounts. Together with minerals, it provides strengthening of muscle tissues and good regeneration of cells. Fiber in acai berry supplies a healthy diet with the nourishment and support for the digestive system, and some types of the fiber prevent the developing of cancer cells. Vitamins A, B1 and E, electrolytes and photosterols are among other chemicals represented in the berry.
Acai berry is a powerful weapon against aging. Its antioxidant properties relieve body from free radicals and consequent cell damage. This prevents whole body from destructive environmental influences, improves skin and muscle regeneration. Acai is also powerful in strengthening men’s health. Except enhancing energy levels, it controls prostate’s enlargement (working as aphrodisiac) and is able to treat erectile dysfunction. A study conducted in one of Florida Universities has shown that active components in acai berry were potent to destroy a leukemia cell. This makes the berry promising in dealing with cancer. The anthocyanin properties of the fruit work well in treating neurological diseases, insomia in particular. The latter chemicals also show good results in treating retinopathy associated with diabetes; they act by protecting capillaries and preventing excessive protein proliferation. Other conditions acai berry is beneficial for include skin irritation, digestive disorders, memory dysfunctions, heart problems and inflammation.
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