Botanical: Euterpe oleracea
Family: Arecaceae (palm)
Other common names: Asaí, Ashai, Assai, Cabbage Palm, Cansin, Jicara, Manac, Pinot, Wapoe
Highly nutritious Açaí Fruit is sometimes called the Amazon's perfect "super berry" and is believed to be an exceptional antioxidant, which helps to build the body's natural defenses against infection and disease and protect the body from free radicals that can attack and destroy cells. Its fatty acids are believed to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart attack. Often referred to as the "Fountain of Youth," Açaí Fruit is reputed to restore the stamina and vitality of our younger days.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Açaí Fruit is a small, deep-purple berry that grows on the tall, slender Açaí palm tree, which is a very common native of the Brazilian Rainforest. Açaí palm is a member of the genus, Euterpe, which contains seven species of palms that are native to tropical Central and South America from Belize southward to Brazil and Peru, growing mainly in floodplains and swamps. The botanical genus is named in honor of the muse, Euterpe, of Greek mythology. The Açaí palm may reach one hundred feet in height and has adapted to survive in waterlogged soil in the lowland flood areas along the rivers of northern South America, where it forms large groves. The palm family encompasses over twelve hundred species and is one of the most useful plants for the inhabitants of the rainforest as a vital resource for food, beverages, oils, building materials, tools and weapons. Apart from its berries as food, the Açai palm has other purposes. Leaves may be used for making hats, mats, baskets, brooms and roof thatch for homes; and trunk wood, resistant to pests, is important in building construction. The Açaí has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous tribes of the area for its extraordinary nutritional and healing qualities, and Brazilians call it "Tree of Life." A study of the Coboclo populations in the Amazon region of Brazil revealed that Açaí was the most important plant species because the fruit makes up such a major component of the diet. The edible fruit is small, round and blackish purple, resembling a grape, but smaller and darker and is produced in branched panicles of 700 to 900 fruits. Two crops of fruit are produced per year. The berry contains a single, large seed with very little pulp and is surrounded by stringy fibrous sheaths and a thin, oily coating. Açaí berries are harvested in the dry season and favored by birds and rodents that disburse the seeds in their droppings for propagation of the species. Açaí Fruit is highly nutritional, serving as a traditional food for the native people living in the Amazon forest, and although consumed for centuries as an essential food in South America, it was only at the turn of the twenty-first century that it was introduced to the outside commercial world as a spectacular natural health supplement. It also shows potential as a natural red coloring matter. Açaí Fruit is an extraordinary source of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids, feeling oily to the touch. It contains high levels of the monounsaturated fatty oleic acid, palmitic acid, the polyunsaturated Omega-6 Fatty linoleic acid and Omega-9 Fatty acid. Other constituents in Açaí Fruit include beta sitosterol, phytosterols, anthocyanidins, fiber (one-third of its mass is dietary fiber), sterols, epicatechin, p-hydroxy-benzoic acid, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, ellagic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, vanillic acid, pelaronidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin, potassium, calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, sulphur, protein, B-vitamins and vitamins C and E.
Açaí Fruit is believed to be an amazing antioxidant that inhibits destructive, oxidative damage to tissues or cells. Some studies claim that Açaí contains up to thirty-three percent more antioxidant properties than even red wine grapes. The berry possesses a high concentration of anthocyanidins (which give many plants their colors) and provides a high degree of antioxidant capacity that fights free radical damage in the body and builds the body's natural defenses. These compounds also allow the body's cells to absorb vitamin C, which is helpful in protecting cells from the free radicals that can bind to and destroy cellular compounds. These qualities are believed to be helpful in building the immune system and fighting malignant diseases and other infections.
The January, 2006, issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published news from the University of Florida, stating that Açaí berries are one of the richest sources of potent antioxidants (anthocyanidins) that destroyed cultured human cancer cells in lab studies and triggered a self-destruct response in up to eighty-six percent of leukemia cells tested. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center noted these developments as
inducing apoptosis in HL-60 leukemia cells through caspase 3 activation, but added that its effects in humans are unknown.
As an energy booster, the pulpy little Açaí berry is said to restore the vitality, strength and stamina of youth. It is thought to restore overall health, improve sexual function and has even been called the "Fountain of Youth." Often said to be one of the richest foods in iron, the microbiological characteristics of Açaí Fruit are highly nutritional. Serving for centuries as a vital traditional food for the native people living in the Amazon forest, it is now widely used in energy drinks, energy bars and natural health supplements.
Açaí Fruit is rich in essential fatty acids and is said to be very beneficial for good coronary health. β-sitosterol (beta sitosterol), a phytosterol that competes with dietary cholesterol for absorption is thought to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Moreover, Açaí is believed to improve coronary healthy by elevating high-density lipoprotein levels (HDLs or "good" cholesterol) in the blood, while decreasing the low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or "bad" cholesterol). The HDL is said to help clear the "bad" cholesterol from the arterial walls, reducing platelet aggregation (clotting) and helping to eliminate it from the body. This action helps improve heart health by promoting better blood circulation throughout the body, especially to the heart, thereby reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart attacks.
Açaí Fruit is rich in fiber content, and as such, it is believed to help improve digestion. It has been said that a 100-gram serving of Açaí powder may provide all the daily recommended fiber needs for adults. It is frequently recommended for the elderly and people suffering from digestive complaints. Fibers play a very important role in regulating intestinal transit, promoting "regularity" and may also actively participate in the prevention of malignant diseases of the colon.
Currently, there appear to be no warnings or contraindications with the use of Açaí Fruit Herbal Supplement; however, it has been reported that due to its antioxidant effects, Acai may interfere with the actions of certain chemotherapy drugs.