Acai - some facts
Acai comes from the Acaizeiro palm tree that is indigenous and thrives in the Amazon basin of Brazil.
The berries grow in large bunches at the top of the palm tree and are deep violet in colour and some what resemble a large blueberry. Many describe the taste as combining berries with an earthy- chocolaty flavour.
The discovery of a super-fruit
For centuries the berries have been harvested by locals of the Amazon basin and form the staple food in the diet of many communities, taking the place of rice, bread, and milk. Such is acai`s nutritional quality that it is an integral part of the nourishment, and well being of the people of the Amazon basin.
Açai`s popularity started when some enterprising Brazilians started freezing the fruit (thus preserving all its natural characteristics) and transporting it to Rio de Janeiro. Açai rapidly became the drink of choice for Brazil`s surfers, athletes, and the body conscious. By 1992 Açai was firmly part of Rio`s beach culture with every bar, gym, and beach stand doing a roaring trade.
Today, Açai is drunk throughout Brazil and its consumption is firmly part of Brazilian culture. Açai then gained popularity throughout the US and is now growing in Europe as its taste and amazing nutritional properties become increasingly well known.
How is acai s popularity affecting the Amazon rainforest?
Açai`s popularity has started to curb deforestation as its commercial value has increased. It is abundant in primary forest and many landowners have realised that harvesting the naturally growing açai fruit is much more profitable than chopping down the forest and farming the land. Consequently açai production has soared and brought valuable work to many impoverished areas whilst maintaining the natural environment of the rainforest.
What is Acai s nutritional content?
Açai is packed with energy and really is one of the world`s wonder fruits in terms of its nutritional properties. Açai berries contain many more antioxidants (anthocyanins) than pomegranates or blueberries. The ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of acai is higher than any other edible berry in the world. It also contains high levels of Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, valuable dietary fibers, amino acids, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It is the synergy of all these properties in one fruit that makes acai so sought after.
How does the quality of acai vary?
Acai must be immediately frozen in order to retain most of its natural characteristics and goodness. Over 90% of the acai berry is a seed with only 10% being the edible pulp. This 10% of the fruit must be blended with water to make the acai into a useable and edible form. This is called ACAI PULP.
ALL Acai products on the market are produced from this frozen acai pulp, whether it is a bottled drink, juice, extract or powder. Consequently the way in which this pulp is used or processed determines the quality and nutritional values of the acai product (and this varies enormously).
Freeze Dried Acai Powder
The freeze drying process retains all the nutritional properties of acai through reducing the pulp into a fine powder at very low temperatures. Unlike extracts, freeze dried acai completely captures the unique synergy of nutritional benefits found in acai and is completely pure with no carrying agents.
ORAC Value of Pulpa Acai
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a unit value assigned by researchers to determine the antioxidant value and potency of a given food. Foods with a high ORAC value are beneficial to the body by ingreacing plasma antioxidant levels, therefore helping protect the cells from damage by oxygen radicals.
Research suggests that the average person only gets about 1200 ORAC unit servings of fruit and vegetables daily. However 3000+ORAC units are required on a daily basis to have a significant impact on plasma and tissue antioxidant capacity.
The ORAC value of 491,6 units per gram for Freeze Dried Acai is extremely high and illustrates the antioxidant capacity of Acai.
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