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Acai: Nutritional Value, Health benefits, Medicinal properties, Dosage Forms

Acai (a.k.a Assai) is a small, reddish-purple, grape-like fruit, which is harvested from acai palm trees. It is a superfood that is a native of the tropical areas of south and Central America, especially in Brazil and Trinidad.

The stem of acai palm is about 25 meters tall and 20 centimetre in diameter. The leaves are about 1.2 -4 meters long; both the stem and leaves are commercially used as building materials. Acai palm takes about four to five years to produce fruits. The fruits are rich in fats and the pulp of the fruit is used in several sweets and beverages. The fruit pulp is dried and powdered and exported as a dietary supplement.

Acai

Nutritional Value of Acai:

100 gm of frozen and dried acai fruit pulp contains:

  • 9 calories
  • 2 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g proteins
  • 5 g total fats
  • 2 g dietary fibers
  • 260 mg calcium
  • 4 mg iron
  • 1002 U vitamin A, aspartic acid, glutamic acid
  • 59% amino acid content
  • 2% oleic acid
  • 1% palmitic acid
  • 5% Linolenic acid
  • 05% phytosterols

Health Benefits of Acai:

Acai is a rich source of certain vitamin and minerals and is known for managing several health conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels)
  • Arthritis
  • Anemia
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels)
  • Diabetes
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infections
  • Obesity
  • Skin conditions
  • Eye diseases, such as glaucoma

Medicinal Properties of Acai:

Acai has several medicinal properties, such as:

Antioxidant Properties:

Acai is one of the best foods with the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity). ORAC is a method of measuring the capacity of an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals. Antioxidants present in Acai berries helps in maintaining and promoting heart health naturally.

Additionally, it contains anthocyanins (a type of antioxidant), which prevent oxidation of cholesterol and maintain the cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases.

Anthocyanins promote brain health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Thus, it lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Anti-cancerous Properties:

Anthocyanins present in Acai berries exhibit anti-carcinogenic properties. It acts by:

  • Activating the detoxifying enzymes
  • Preventing the proliferation of cancer cells
  • Inducing cancer cell death
  • Inhibiting the initial stages of tumors
  • Preventing the cancer cell invasion

Digestive Properties:

Acai helps in eliminating the toxins from the body. The fiber content present in this berry helps in absorbing a large amount of nutrients, thereby improving and promoting a healthy digestive system.

Wound Healing Properties:

Acai exhibits wound healing property by suppressing the activation of certain enzymes (cyclooxygenase-2) and proteins (TNF-α) which are responsible for inflammatory reactions.

Weight Loss:

Acai berries are a rich source of healthy fats, especially omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats burn the unwanted fat stores in the body by increasing the metabolism. In addition, it also contains certain chemicals (phytosterols) that help in lowering the cholesterol levels.

Related Read: 10+ Easy Home Remedies to Reduce Weight

Different Dosage Forms of Acai:

Acai is available in the form of:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Oral powder
  • Juices
  • Smoothies
  • Energy drinks
  • Jelly
  • Liquid
  • Cream
  • Lotion

Recommended Intake:

The dosage of acai depends on several factors, such as:

  • Type of formulation
  • Patient’s age
  • Route of administration
  • Health condition

The therapeutic dosage for acai berry is usually between 200 to 1500mg once a day.

Advantages of Acai:

Acai contains several chemicals that protect the body from getting damaged. It also:

  • Improves energy levels
  • Boosts immune system
  • Promotes the health of the digestive system
  • Lowers the blood sugar levels
  • Reduces swelling

Side Effects of Acai:

Acai berry is usually harmless if consumed in recommended doses. Consuming large amount of acai may lead to certain side effects, such as:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • High blood pressure

Precautions while Taking Acai:

  • Patients having a history of lupus should avoid consuming Acai.
  • Avoid the intake of acai during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as the efficacy and safety of this berry during pregnancy is unknown.
  • Acai is known to cause several drug interactions, so consult a doctor before using any other medications while on acai.
  • Avoid taking Acai berry if allergic to Acai palm or Cabbage palm.
  • Acai may affect the results of imaging tests, so it is advised to avoid Acai before undergoing any imaging tests.
  • Acai should be avoided while using any painkiller medicines.
  • Avoid Acai while taking anti-cancer drugs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. Is it safe to take acai if having liver disease?

No. Acai should be avoided in individuals having liver disease.

  1. Why is acai mostly recommended in combination with caffeine?

Acai, when given in combination with caffeine, increases the fat burning capacity in the body and reduces the appetite, thereby promoting rapid weight loss.

  1. How does acai help in preventing a heart attack?

Acai contains certain chemicals (plant sterols) that widen the blood vessels and reduces the blood pressure. This improves the blood flow and reduces the risk of heart attack.

  1. Is it safe to drink raw acai juice?

Drinking raw acai juice may increase the risk of a condition known asAmerican trypanosomiasis (a parasitic infection).

  1. Can Acai capsules be used to improve digestion?

Yes. Taking acai capsule one hour before meals help in improving digestion.

  1. Is it safe to take Acai berry while using anti-diabetic medicines?

No, acai berry may interact with anti-diabetic medicines and increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

  1. What is meant by acai hearts?

Acai hearts are the soft interior of the trunk of the Acai tree. They are a rich in water (90%), carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals.

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