Acai berry supplements are a relative newcomer to the super-foods industry. Although the nutritionally-dense acai berry was used for centuries by Amazon tribes as an herbal remedy, it was not until the 1990's that it came to the attention of western folk herbalists and scientists. Today, acai berry is one of the most popular and sought-after natural supplements on the market.
What is the Acai Berry?
- Common Names: acai berry, palm berry, acai palm, jussara, cabbage palm
The acai (pronounced [asa'i]) is a little fruit, smaller than a grape, and deep purple in color. It is native to the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, where it grows on tall palm trees. Its taste has been described as a rich blend of berry with a touch of chocolate.
Despite its small size, the acai berry is packed with tremendous health benefits. In fact, it has been proven to be one of the world's most nutritionally potent foods.
Benefits of Acai Berry Supplements
High ORAC Activity
Studies by the USDA have found the acai berry to be incredibly rich in antioxidants, which are known to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals on the cells of our bodies. Free radicals are a key cause of disease and premature aging.ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a measure of a food's antioxidant capacity to absorb and neutralize free radicals. According to the USDA, the acai berry's ORAC activity is more than 200 percent higher than that of any other known fruit or vegetable, making it one of the most nutrient-dense fruits. It has over ten times more antioxidants than red grapes and even wine.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
The acai berry is also rich in the Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, which are an essential nutrient in the body's metabolic processes. They also help lower cholesterol levels. EFAs can only be obtained from our nutrient intake, because the body is unable to produce it naturally for itself.
Acai is a good source of amino acids, protein compounds that are, essentially, the basic building blocks of the body's cells and tissues. They are also vital for energy. The berry's high protein content makes it an attractive supplement for athletes and their trainers.
The acai berry is also packed with dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
The Three Forms of Acai Supplements
With its increasing popularity in the health food industry, more and more acai supplements are flooding the market. There are three main forms of acai berry supplements, each of different quality
1. Freeze Dried Acai Berry Supplements
This form of acai berry supplement is the highest quality of available on the market. The acai berries undergo a freeze-dry process, which typically involves dehydrating the pulp of the berries, and then freezing it before turning it into a powder form. Low temperatures are applied so as to retain all the berries' nutrients. No carry agents are added.
The dried acai berry powder has a much higher ORAC score than a similar weight of berry pulp. An ounce of powder, for example, offers the same antioxidant benefits as six ounces of fresh pulp. These two supplements are 100 percent organic:-
- Pure Acai Sambazon Acai Supplements
- Acai Amazon Thunder Caps
2. Spray Dried Acai Supplements
This is a quicker, less expensive way of producing acai berry powder. This process involves dehydrating the berries by heating them to high temperatures. The dried berry is then sprayed with a carry agent like maltodextrin.
This is a less than desirable form of acai berry supplement to purchase, because the heat destroys some of the berry's nutrients, which are very sensitive to high temperatures. What's more, by the end of the process, maltodextrin will constitute almost 40 percent of the final product.
3. Acai Berry Extract
The process of producing herbal extracts involves literally extracting a single chemical element of the plant. For the acai berry, this extract is taken from spray-dried acai. This is an even less desirable option than spray-dried acai powder, because it offers even fewer nutritional benefits.
When shopping for high quality, affordable acai berry supplements, be sure to shop for freeze dried acai. It is the purest, most potent form available, retaining all the berry's antioxidants, vitamins, enzymes and other nutrients.