Feb, 05

One of the best trends in health in recent years is people rediscovering the fact that foods can behave in the same was as medicine; in addition to simply providing sustenance, science continues to show the ways in which certain foods promote and sustain health, aid in vitality and help heal certain conditions.  


Berries are one of the foods that science has continued to show contain many health-promoting nutrients, such as heart-healthy fats, anti-oxidants and fiber. Typically, whenever we talk about about berries, we are talking about the most commonly known berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, but there are other types of berries containing health-promoting phytochemicals, such as cranberries, cherries and strawberries. There is one berry, however, that was relatively unknown outside of South and Central America (where it is indigenous to) up until around 10 years ago. That berry is the acai berry.



Acai berries have been eaten by local Amazonian people for centuries, and they've been touted as a health tonic for just as long. Acai berries are low in sugar and acid, rendering them very susceptible to oxidation, which makes transporting them particularly difficult. This is, in part, why they've only recently been "discovered" by American food purveyors. 

There are many unsubstantiated claims about acai berry benefits for certain conditions, such as weight loss. Many purveyors aren't allowed to make certain claims they were making even a few years ago because of new legislation. Regardless, some studies have shown acai berries benefits to be many; specifically for oxidative stress, certain cancers, and metabolic disorders. 

The most touted benefit of acai berries is the inherent anti-oxidant value they contain. The oxygen radical absorbance capacity, or ORAC score, is the highest of any fruit or vegetable.

(The ORAC score is simply a measurement of the anti-oxidant activity.) Because of this, acai berries have lately become a critical ingredient of many products, including topical, cosmetic and food products.

Because they are so perishable, it is rarer to find whole acai berries. If not processed immediately, the berries will oxidize, losing their anti-oxidant value. They are typically processed before being exported, which is why you find acai berries as an ingredient to a variety of products. This is where their inclusion on the Phase One Diet can be a little suspect; while acai contains a legion of health benefits, it's pulp and juice are often added to foods containing a high amount of sugar. These foods are still marketed as "healthy" because of their inherent anti-oxidant value. And while the anti-oxidants definitely provide some level of benefit, the sugar content of such processed foods makes them unfit for inclusion on the Phase One


Acai berries can be a great way to get your anti-oxidants, but be careful of the products in which they are only a single ingredient.