Acai Berries & Acai Berry Juice – Do They Work And What Are The Side Effects?
Acai berries are the new kid on the super food block. The berries are ingredients in cosmetics, beauty products, and diet pills, with manufacturers and marketers extolling their various health benefits everywhere you look. However, does the acai berry actually live up to all of these claims or is the acai berry product market just a scam?
To start off, it’s best to actually understand what an acai berry is, how to pronounce it, and where it comes from. Phonetic explanations of how to pronounce the acai berry centre around “Ah-Sigh-EE” or “Ah-Sa-EE”. If you’re still confused this YouTube video says it out loud for you to copy.
Acai berries are small purplish fruits similar to blueberries. They grow on acai palm trees (Latin name – Euterpe oleracea) which are native to Central and South American rainforests. The berries do not have a long life after being picked and as they cannot be grown in the colder climates of the UK and US, they mostly come in powder, capsule, or juiced form. The taste of the acai berry is a mixture of rich blackberry and bitter chocolate and is definitely an acquired taste.
Why are they so popular?
Brazilian locals have used acai berries as a natural remedy for centuries, administering it to anyone and everyone of all age and size. Traditionally Brazilians would mix the berries with guarana syrup, another natural energy source, to make a supplement. It is the huge amount of antioxidants packed into the tiny berries that have caught the attention of the Western world and turned the berry into a very fashionable and in-demand fruit for weight loss and improved health.
Antioxidant is a key term in health products, with the benefits ranging from anti-ageing, to reducing sun damage to skin, and preventing diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s. The antioxidant content in acai berries makes the link between the berries and improved health of the above. But are the berries actually healthier than other fruits? Acai berries contain anthocyanins and flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. They help prevent stress damage to the body and protect cells by neutralizing harmful by-products known as free radicals. This reduces the negative effects of ageing and disease on the body. Anthocyanins also cause the blue-purple colour in foods, like with blueberries and red grapes; the more anthocyanins, the deeper the colour of the fruit.
There has been some debate over whether or not acai berries are more beneficial than other high antioxidant fruits such as blueberries and cranberries. This has not yet been proven and so we should regard acai berries as being similarly advantageous to health and weight as other fruits.
In addition to a diet supplement, acai berries are frequently used in cosmetics and beauty products. Rather than the actual fruit or its juice, acai oil is the ingredient used in these products. This is a concentrated version of the berry which is cold-pressed from the seeds. It is incredibly rich in phenolic compounds and the antioxidant levels remain high even after long periods. Acai oil is thought to be better than palm and coconut oil and has taken over as the main ingredient in anti-aging skin therapies, shampoos and conditioners, and facial and body creams.
Do acai berries help weight loss?
It is definitely a popular ingredient in many weight loss pills and powders, but actually there is no scientific research showing a direct link between weight loss and the consumption of acai. This doesn’t mean that it has no effect on health however. The antioxidants, amino acids, dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids in acai berries mean that the general health benefits are extensive:
Fibre is an important aspect of diet, required for keeping digestion working. It helps absorb the right nutrients into your body so you extract as much nutritional value as possible from the food you eat. Fibre also helps to bind cholesterol, fat and harmful toxins to be disposed of in body waste. Like most fruits and vegetables, acai berries contain high amounts of fibre, helping your body’s digestive tract work efficiently and preventing the accumulation of fat.
Benefits of acai berries?
A major health benefit of the antioxidants in acai berries and other fruits is the effective management of cholesterol. Millions of people globally, and particularly in richer Western countries, have dangerously high cholesterol, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and heart attack. Antioxidants strengthen the heart, improve the blood circulation, and prevent fat building up and narrowing arteries, therefore lowering the risk of these cardiovascular diseases.
One of the best known benefits of antioxidants is their ability to detox the body and get rid of any harmful toxins. Acai berries are therefore a great way to keep your immune system strong and active. The more junk you feed your body the weaker your immune system becomes because it constantly has to fight off fat and combat the lack of vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants from acai berries will strengthen your immune system so it can powerfully fight against infections and illness, reducing poor health.
Acai berries can improve your sex life. Good circulation has an effect on any organs that are dependent on blood, and sex organs are entirely reliant on good blood circulation to work properly. Poor circulation can cause swelling and water retention in the hands and feet, lumps in blood vessels, varicose veins, and affect memory if blood flow to the brain is compromised. Acai berries ensure that your blood is flowing properly by removing impurities such as cholesterol that clog up arteries and blood vessels. As a result, your sex organs have a good blood supply and will be in excellent working order to improve satisfaction.
As shown above, the brain needs a good supply of oxygen to maintain its function over every aspect of the body. It also requires certain chemicals and fatty acids which are produced from nutrients absorbed from the blood. Acai berries contain fatty acids and nutrients that help your mind work better, so increasing your intake of acai berries can result in greater alertness, mental focus and concentration.
A diet packed with good foods and antioxidants has been proven to positively affect health and aid weight loss. Acai can be particularly effective with regard to this because of its antioxidant power. The berries also contain nutrients which can affect the speed of your metabolism slightly. A faster metabolism burns more fat and so this is certainly advantageous in terms of weight loss. On its own acai may not have the desired effect in the desired time frame, but combined with the right diet and exercise to further boost your metabolism and rid your body of toxins, it can help you burn that excess fat.
You can really boost the power of acai berries by adjusting your diet, exercise and increasing the amount of water you drink. A healthy diet is not all about avoiding foods and minimising calorie intake. Replacing junk food or high carbohydrate foods with more fruit and vegetables will keep your hunger sated and make your new diet much more manageable mentally. You can add acai your breakfast cereal or porridge, put it in smoothies, and use it desserts so that it works alongside the other nutritional diet elements.
Exercising to lose weight doesn’t have to be vein popping and lactic acid burning. It is true that the more exercise you do the more calories you burn and therefore the more weight you lose. However, walking can be a very effective form of exercise that is also relaxed. Going for a walk every day, either on your lunch break or in the evening, is an easy way of burning fat as you can gradually increase the distance and your fitness without feeling exhausted. Any type of exercise will aid the effects of acai berries so you will lose more weight.
Water is essential for your body to maintain efficiency. If you are dehydrated your body retains water in a state of thirst which causes your weight to increase. Lack of water also increases the amount of toxins in your body as there is not enough water to keep flushing them out through sweat and urine. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is one of the best ways to cut your calorie count as it reduces your appetite and makes you feel full. Mixing acai juice with water is a double attack on the toxins in your body, keeping your blood clean and healthy.
Snacking between meals is a common way of gaining weight and so cutting out excessive snacking of empty calorie junk foods will certainly help you lose weight. Replacing these unhealthy foods with acai berry fruit smoothies or a handful of dried berries will keep your appetite at bay and feed your body with highly nutritional foods that will help your body drop the fat and tone up.
Are there any side effects of acai berries?
As with all fruits, excessive consumption can cause an upset stomach and suddenly filling your belly with hundreds of acai berries certainly isn’t going to do you any good. However, there are no actual side effects of eating acai berries in their purest form if you do so in moderation. Starting with small amounts and building up if you want to ingest them as part of your everyday diet will allow your body time to accept the berries and prevent nausea or diarrhoea.
The use of acai berry products or supplements however has a whole new set of side effects that come from the use of preservatives. As they are native to Central and South America, acai berries usually travel in powdered or juice form. They are then processed and mixed with additives to create supplements for weight loss or cosmetic use. Traditionally these additives include sugar, caffeine and artificial colourings and flavourings. Because you are no longer ingesting the pure berry, there are warnings of side effects. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain, headaches, and allergic reactions.
If the acai berry supplement you are taking has additional ingredients to dilute the purity of the acai, it will not be as effective in improving health or aiding weight loss. The power of the acai berry is lost and the risk of illness heightened. It is important only to purchase acai berry supplements from a licensed and creditable seller to ensure you are receiving an honest and natural product that won’t cause the side effects shown above
The sudden popularity of acai berries in the western world and the exultations that they are the new super food means it is well advised to watch out for acai berry weight loss scams. With increased popularity, the sale of acai berries and any product containing them has sky-rocketed. Scammers jumping on the band wagon and selling untested and unnatural products to make a quick profit have no interest in the side effects of their products on the recipient’s health and could be dangerous to ingest.
It is important to be aware of what the acai berry is and how it can work to increase weight loss so you can identify false descriptions of miracle acai berries. Various acai berry scams claim that you will be able to lose incredible amounts of weight in a short time period and for a great price – all you have to do is take these acai berry supplements. The reality, as shown in this article above, is that acai berries can work in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise plan, but the celebrity endorsements or pictures of model skinny girls are completely fraudulent. These scams are extensive, preying on the insecure with the promise of easy and fast weight loss. The acai berry may be a super food but it cannot achieve the impossible. Fake reviews on fake websites accredit a product tenuously linked, if at all, to acai berries that could seriously damage your health. Finding a reputable seller of weight loss supplements can be a herculean task but taking the time to do your research, check the product ingredients and compare prices (usually the cheaper the price the worse the product) will benefit you in the end.
When you strip back acai berries from all the hype and health claims, they are just fruit. Unless you have a fruit allergy, eating acai berries or drinking acai juice in its natural state is just a healthy addition to your diet. There won’t be any adverse effects from ingesting the acai like this unless you overdose your body on it. As a result, taking acai berry supplements should also not have any serious side effects if they are natural products. If health warnings seem severe, avoid the product and the seller completely. Otherwise, utilise the fruit for the natural health benefits it provides to improve your overall health and weight loss.
How to take acai berries
The actual taste of acai juice is very strong because of the concentrated nature of the fruit. Most people have described the berry tasting like a rich blackberry with a bitter chocolate aftertaste. It is something of an acquired taste and many people can find it difficult to like. Adding acai berries or the berry juice to other foods is the best way to obtain all the goodness of the fruit while masking the taste as much as you need to.
If you are going to drink plain acai berry juice you should begin with small amounts. Although there are no specific doses regarding the juice, too much too soon can cause stomach ache and nausea. You can start taking acai berry juice like you would cod liver oil – just a tablespoon a day. If you take between one and two tablespoons of acai berry juice once a day for five days without any adverse health effects, you can introduce larger amounts. This can be done incrementally until you are taking 6 tablespoons a day.
Adding acai berry juice to flavour water or other fruit juices makes it easier to digest. It also reduces the side effects of taking the juice if your body reacts badly to it. 2 teaspoons of acai berry juice to 250ml of cool water makes a refreshing drink. This should be drunk immediately to prevent the water and berry juice separating and more acai juice can be added according to taste. Acai berries go well with other fruits and particularly complement mango, blackberry, blueberry, and pomegranate. With these fruit juices you can add more acai berry juice than with the water, so anywhere between 2 teaspoons to 6 tablespoons in 250ml of juice can work.
Just as antioxidants are great for your body, getting enough calcium is important. Why not combine acai berry juice with milk to get a double health hit in one glass. Milk is really good at absorbing other flavours and the chocolate notes in the acai berry aftertaste make it similar to chocolate flavoured milk. Soy and almond milk work just as well so vegetarians and lactose intolerant people can still use this recipe idea. Between 2 teaspoons and 2 tablespoons in a glass of milk is a great way of getting both vitamins and antioxidants.
Starbucks and Costa are constantly adding syrups and flavours to their coffees to enhance the taste and alter the sweetness. Acai berry juice works well in coffee because it can match up to the strong bitterness of the bean. The chocolate note works well, like with milk, and a couple of tablespoons of acai berry juice in coffee is much healthier than adding sugar, milk and cream.
Blending a variety of fruits into a smoothie is a method lots of people use to try and get more fruit into their diet. It’s also good because you can hide a lot of fruits that have loads of health benefits but just don’t taste very nice in a smoothie. Adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of acai berry juice along with smoothie staples such as bananas, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries into a 250ml glass will up the amount of antioxidants in your smoothie and get acai berries into your diet without the taste.
A wild card recipe idea is to use acai berry juice in salad dressings or vinaigrettes. If you think about eating healthily you automatically think salads, as lettuce, cucumber and celery have very few calories and a lot of vitamins and minerals. You could add 2 to 3 tablespoons of acai berry juice with a pinch of salt and pepper to a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
Overall, acai berries seem to be a natural health booster that can also aid weight loss. The pure fruit poses no side effects with consumption, although it is advised to carefully check the ingredients of supplements to ensure a high level of acai and low level of additives. Acai berries can be a really beneficial addition to your diet and positively affect weight loss in conjunction with exercise so why not see how they work for you.
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