Acai, pronounced "Ah-SIGH-ee," is a popular Brazilian fruit that is harvested from the Amazon rain forest. About the size of a small grape, only the very outer layer and pulp are made into juice. How much you drink usually depends on the reason you are drinking acai and the potency of the juice.
Acai has been harvested by the people of the Amazon tribes for centuries, but in recent years has become a health food phenomenon. In 2000, Jeremy Black and his brother Ryan are credited for sparking the current popularity of acai when they brought it back with them from Brazil. The brothers formed a successful company called Sambazon and began marketing acai in juice and powdered acai because the berry is too perishable to transport.
The juice's popularity gained more momentum when Dr. Mehmet Oz, professor of cardiac surgery at Columbia University and author of "Healing from the Heart," appeared on Oprah and discussed the potency and benefits of acai.
Acai is sold as a superfood that contains high amounts of antioxidants, which are vitamins that benefit our heart, skin, digestion and almost every other system and function in our body. Concentrated levels of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant, is found in acai and helps in neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals, according to MonaVie.com.
Acai berries also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are nutritionally important in our diet. In 2006, the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published a study which indicated that acai contained beneficial quantities of fatty acids and antioxidants, but that further study was needed.
The common recommended amount of acai juice to drink is 2 to 4 ounces a day. That amount is based on good quality and concentrated juice. The serving size you drink can be based on your individual size; larger people need to consume more nutrients. It is also depends on your overall health.
If you are sick, antioxidants are recommended for improving immune function and for fighting off infection. Drinking a little more juice during illness can be helpful.
Antioxidant-rich foods like acai are known to help skin appear somewhat younger and healthier, according to Dr. L. Baumann at the Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami. Drinking 2 to 4 ounces of acai a day would provide an ample amount of antioxidants for skin benefits. The same is true for heart health. The manufacturer's recommended 2 to 4 ounces would provide a decent quantity of antioxidants for heart and circulation concerns.
Acai is also sold as beneficial for weight loss, however no studies proving the effectiveness in dieting has been done.
Acai is available in supplement form as well as juice. The body absorbs the antioxidants either way.
On Oprah.com, Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends five servings of antioxidant fruits a day and suggests a 500 milligram per day supplement of acai if you choose this form. Some practitioners recommend higher amounts, anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 milligrams a day. Your doctor can suggest what is right for you.
Every product sold with acai juice should list individual ingredients as well as the amount of antioxidants and other nutrients on the label. Juices that are listed as concentrates will usually have the highest amount of antioxidants, while blends can be watered-down versions. Juice concentrates are the best form of acai juice for the money.
Beware of potential scams and false expectations of what acai can do. One product can't and shouldn't be relied upon to provide essential vitamins. Your health care practitioner can recommend a specific daily or weekly quantity of acai juice based on your individual needs. Even Oprah and Dr. Oz clarify on Oprah.com that while they acknowledge the benefits of acai, they do not personally endorse any products marketed to sell acai juice or supplements.
- Photo Credit Photo courtesy of borderlys
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