Acai: Fact or Fiction?

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I actually started this post about 8 months ago when I first started looking into acai.  When a product really starts getting tons of hype I’m usually skeptical and it was no different when I started seeing this berry pop up in products and infomercials all the time.  This post was originally to debunk the whole acai myth as a scam but the more I’ve read the more interested I am in it.  I don’t believe that it’s a wonder weight loss cure or some sort of magical immune booster and detoxifier but there is some validity to using it to manage free radical damage.

Acai tops the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) chart at a whopping 18,400.  The next closest is pomegranate at 10,500; then blackberries at 5,100 (all measurements are per 100g of that particular fruit).  This is significant because of two reasons.

1. Our diets and lives are filled with harmful chemicals and pseudo-foods that produce tons of free radicals.

2. Our diets are pitifully low in the standard fruits and veggies that we consider to be high in antioxidants let alone the more exotic berries like pomegranate and acai.

Free radicals, by definition, are molecules that lack an electron in their outer ring which makes them unstable.  As a result they travel through the body and attempt to steal an electron from the molecules that are stable.  The cells of your body have to withstand thousands of attacks by free radicals each day.

There are also a form of free radicals called superoxides which can attack and oxidize proteins and fats in the blood (commonly called lipoproteins or cholesterol).  When this happens the the cholesterol becomes “sticky” and then can cling to one another.  Combine that with inflammation of the veins and arteries which make them sticky as well, and you have a recipe for plaque build up in the blood stream and an increased possibility of blockages forming.

Of all the foods tested for their superoxide scavenging potential (SOD), acai tested by far the highest at 1614 units per gram.  In tests that measured it’s effect on reactive oxygen species (ROS) it was shown that even low doses* of freeze dried acai were able to enter the cells of the body in a fully functional form.

While I’m not saying you need to buy stock on the acai market, if you are looking to stay healthy and keep your immune system functioning at an optimum level I would recommend doing some research into acai.

Refrences
http://search.lef.org/cgi-src-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=0&page_id=1274&query=acai&hiword=ACAIS%20acai
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17061840

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