The açai berry is a fairly ordinary looking red- to purple-colored fruit that is found natively in central and southern America. The berry has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, and has only recently hit the spotlight in the western world. Suddenly it seems everyone wants a piece of the humble old açai berry – it’s touted as a weight loss food, and açai juice benefits are said to include reduced autoimmune disease symptoms, and improved concentration…and the list goes on. So what is it that actually makes this little berry so special?
Açai berries are very rich in two particular chemical compounds of interest to us, these being anthocyanins and flavonoids. Without getting too technical, both compounds are very powerful antioxidants. While the plant (or fruit) is alive and thriving in its natural habitat, a high level of antioxidant chemicals serves to protect it from diseases and insect attacks – kind of like a natural pest repellent. When you eat foods containing antioxidants the compounds fulfil a similar sort of protective role – but rather than protecting from insects and fungal growth, they bind to harmful chemicals (often referred to as “free radicals”), neutralising them, and thus potentially preventing many common diseases.
So are acia juice benefits as noticeable the benefits of eating fresh berries? Sadly no, unless you happen to have access to fresh açai berries and are pressing the juice yourself…in a slow speed juicer of course! There are many cheap açai juice products out there that are heat treated, or even treated with preservatives to extend their shelf lives, and unfortunately this renders the juice quite dead. Genuine concentrates will however contain high levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids thanks to the sheer bulk of fruit that has gone into the juice, but beware – you will pay top dollar for the real thing. Açai juice benefits include improved energy, improved circulation, and a powerful detoxifying effect. Many people with arthritis also claim that açai juice benefits their joints and reduces aches, while boosting energy.
The recommended daily dosage, for balancing the cost/potential side effects/benefits of açai juice is no more than 1 glass of concentrate for an adult, and half this for children under 12 years of age. Some people report diarrhoea as a side effect, and although this might sound bad, it can actually be a sign that your body is ridding itself of toxins. Clearly you should stop using the product if you experience ongoing problems, but don’t worry – açai juice is a natural product and you can’t overdose, as you could with a drug or artificial medicine.
An alternative to açai juice concentrate are dried and açai berries, or freeze dried açai berries. Plain dried açai are fairly chewy and quite dark (still tangy and flavoursome) while the freeze dried berries are crisper, and maintain their original red to purple color. They make a great healthy snack, or go well on muesli.
Just as with Goji and Noni berry juice, it can be hard to separate the hype from the facts. Everyone wants you to buy their product, and while there is no doubt that significant açai juice benefits are there, just remember that you don’t need to spend all your hard earned money to stay healthy. Make fresh juice from in season fruits and vegetables if you have a juicer machine, and make fresh berry and yogurt smoothies instead of reaching for the crisps and the soda.
A little açai berry juice concentrate goes a long way, and for an interesting drink mix add a little in with your regular juices or smoothies – it looks great and tastes good if nothing else.