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Acai
 


[Antioxidant Protection | ORAC Value | Maintains Cellular Health | References

Antioxidant Protection

Our body produces free radicals as a byproduct of many metabolic processes. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that have the potential of causing harm if not adequately neutralized by the body’s antioxidant system. While some free radical production is necessary for metabolism and detoxification, excessive amounts of free radicals may lead to compromised health.

Acai is a rich source of anthocyanins and other phenolics. Anthocyanins are compounds that have potent antioxidant activity, allowing for the neutralization of potentially harmful free radicals. By neutralizing these free radicals, anthocyanins from acai may serve to maintain the healthy function of numerous systems and organs. Some of the anthocyanins that have been found in acai include cyanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3-glucoside-coumarate. Other phenolics include catechin and epi-catechin (the same compounds in green tea), quercetin derivatives and other flavonoids.1 It is likely that the synergistic effects of these compounds as present in acai fruit are responsible for its potent antioxidant activities.

ORAC Value

OptiAcai™ freeze-dried acai fruit powder has undergone numerous assays to assess its in vitro antioxidant capacity. One of the assays considered to be a standard measure of antioxidant capacity is known as the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This test measures how much a particular food can inhibit free radical activity. Numerous foods have been tested using this assay by the USDA Agricultural Research Service to develop standard in vitro measures of antioxidant capacity. Of the foods USDA tested, the results show that cranberries had the highest ORAC values per gram. The units are given as Trolox Equivalents (TE). Trolox is a water-soluble analogue of vitamin E. When whole cranberries were tested, the results indicate that their ORAC value was 94 TE per gram. When OptiAcai™ freeze-dried acai fruit powder underwent ORAC testing, the results showed that it had the ORAC activity of 610 TE per gram, the highest of any fruit or vegetable. What is truly amazing is that these numbers represent the ORAC value of the unaltered freeze-dried fruit, as OptiAcai is pure freeze-dried acai. There are no added preservatives or antioxidants that would artificially inflate the ORAC value of this product. The process of freeze-drying helps to strongly preserve the antioxidant compounds in the fruit, contributing to its remarkable ORAC activity.2

Other assays performed on acai pulp include the in vitro TOSC (Total Oxidant Scavenging Capacity) assay. In a Brazilian study, eleven commercially available acai pulp samples were analyzed for antioxidant potential using this assay. It was found that all eleven of the samples performed very well for the ability to scavenge peroxyl and peroxynitrite radicals. The researchers also concluded that the activity of the anthocyanins alone could not account for the free radical scavenging actions of the acai fruit pulp. Other compounds, many of which are possibly yet to be identified, make significant contributions to the remarkable oxidant scavenging capacity seen with the fruit.3

Maintains Cellular Health

Acai’s deep purple coloration makes it a rich source of beneficial polyphenols. While these compounds are potent antioxidants as outlined above, they also confer benefits beyond their free radical scavenging activity. A number of these phytochemicals are known to have beneficial effects on cellular health. Some mechanisms employed by polyphenols include the induction or inhibition of enzyme function and alteration of signal transduction, enhancing the ability of cells to communicate more effectively with each other. Many polyphenols are considered “biological response modifiers”, since they possess multiple effects, including the ability to decrease oxidative stress to cells. Since polyphenols are water soluble, they are also well-absorbed and assimilated, allowing them to efficiently promote cellular health.4

Because of the health benefits associated with a high intake of polyphenols it is crucial to get an adequate number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Best Acai featuring OptiAcai™ freeze-dried acai fruit powder with its high polyphenol content can provide an invaluable supplemental source of these health-promoting compounds to a normal diet.

References

1. Del Pozo-Insfran D, Brenes CH, Talcott ST. Phytochemical composition and pigment stability of Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.). J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Mar 24;52(6):1539-45.

2. Schauss, Alexander G. Acai (Euterpe oleracea): The Nutritional and Antioxidant-rich Amazonian Palm Tree Fruit. Sound Concepts, 2005.

3. Lichtenthaler R, Rodrigues RB, Maia JG, Papagiannopoulos M, Fabricius H, Marx F. Total oxidant scavenging capacities of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (Acai) fruits. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2005 Feb;56(1):53-64.

4. Ronzio, RA. "Naturally occurring antioxidants" The Textbook of Natural Medicine. Second edition. Ed. Joseph E. Pizzorno, Jr. and Michael T. Murray. Churchill Livingstone, 1999. 831-846.

Reprinted with exclusive permission of Doctors Best.

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