New Research – Is Açai the Next Superfood?
You may already know I’m a big fan of açai berries. The little South American powerhouses pack quite a nutritional punch:
- Açai has been shown to triple antioxidant capacity in humans.1
- It’s rich in oleic acid. And in lab tests, oleic acid supports lower cholesterol and fatty acid production.2
- Flavinoids and other plant chemicals – like those found in Açai – have been linked to improved memory and learning in several animal studies.3
Açai berries even provide a little resveratrol.
Of course, most people connect açai with weight loss. It’s a popular and healthy addition to many weight loss formulas.
But if you’ve been taking açai to lose weight, three new studies hint that you may be doing a lot more for your health. And the news is all good.
If you want to hang on to your brainpower, you may have a new reason to love açai berries.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can do a lot of oxidative damage to your cells. But when researchers in Brazil gave açai to rats, they found H2O2 produced far less damage in the rats’ brains.4
This effect hasn’t been shown in humans yet. But human tissue often reacts similarly to rat tissue. And that has me excited. Because this study could be the first step towards helping preserve brainpower.
In our second study we’ll look at another critical issue: DNA.
Less DNA Damage
DNA damage can result in cells that divide abnormally – or are unable to divide at all. So avoiding damage to your DNA is obviously good for your health.
A team at the University of São Paulo tested açai against a powerful DNA-damaging drug, doxorubicin. When they gave açai to mice, they found the drug did far less damage to the DNA in liver and kidney cells.5
And they found that mice given a little açai every day suffered the least damage.
Again, these results still have to be tested in people… but it’s hard not to get excited. DNA damage may be directly linked to the aging process. Slowing DNA damage could lead to looking and feeling more youthful – years beyond our current expectations.
Which brings us to our third new study…
“Switch on” All the Right Genes
You probably think of fruit flies as pests. But researchers at the National Institutes of Health may have just made them your friends. Here’s why:
The researchers fed fruit flies an unhealthy high-fat diet. Some of the flies also got açai pulp. The flies fed açai consistently lived longer.
The team fed other flies a diet designed to cause oxidative stress. Some of the flies also got açai pulp in their diet. Once again, the flies that ate açai consistently outlived those that didn’t.
The team discovered that açai switched on genes linked to healthy levels of stress and switched off certain “unhealthy” genes.6
It’s a long way from flies to people, but the researchers stressed the potential of their findings. And I agree.
We have some distance to go before açai is declared the next superfood. But we already know açai provides many health benefits.
If you’ve considered trying these powerful berries, I think it’s a good idea. Even if only one of these new studies translates successfully to humans, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
Dr. Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 Mertens-Talcott SU, et al. Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 10;56(17):7796-802. Epub 2008 Aug 12..
2 Natal F, et al. Oleic acid is a potent inhibitor of fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis in C6 glioma cells. Journal of Lipid Research, Vol. 48, 1966-1975, September 2007.
3 Willis LM, et al. Recent advances in berry supplementation and age-related cognitive decline. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Jan;12(1):91-4.
4 Spada PD, et al. Frozen fruit pulp of Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Acai) prevents hydrogen peroxide-induced damage in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and hippocampus of rats. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1084-8.
5 Ribeiro JC, et al. Evaluation of the genotoxic and antigenotoxic effects after acute and subacute treatments with açai pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) on mice using the erythrocytes micronucleus test and the comet assay. Mutat Res. 2010 Jan;695(1-2):22-8. Epub 2009 Nov 3.
6 Sun X, et al. Açai palm fruit (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp improves survival of flies on a high fat diet. Exp Gerontol. 2010 Mar;45(3):243-51. Epub 2010 Jan 18.