A Brazilian palm berry, popular health food though little research has been done on it, now may have its purported benefits better understood.
In the first research involving people, the acai (ah-sigh-EE) berry has proven its ability to be absorbed in the human body when consumed both as juice and pulp. That finding, by a team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists, was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Showing the berry's absorption in humans is important because it is known to contain numerous antioxidants. The berry is heavily marketed in the U.S. as a health food.
The study involved 12 healthy volunteers who consumed a single serving of acai juice or pulp. Researchers believe the results point to the need for continued research on the berry which is commonly used in juices, beverages, smoothies, frozen treats and dietary supplements.
"Acai is naturally low in sugar, and the flavor is described as a mixture of red wine and chocolate," said lead investigator Dr. Susanne Talcott, "so what more would you want from a fruit?"
Talcott, who also is assistant professor with the Texas A&M University's nutrition and food science department, said that previous studies have shown the ability of the human body to absorb target antioxidants (from other produce), but "no one had really tested to see if acai antioxidants are absorbed in humans."
Sales of acai products have increased dramatically in the U.S. where it has been touted as a metabolism booster, weight reducer and athletic enhancer. Advertisements use buzzwords such as health, wellness, energy, taste and organic.
About the only buzzword not used with acai is "local." The berries are harvested in the Brazilian rainforest from acai palms that may reach heights in excess of 60 feet - one of the same palms used to harvest edible hearts of palm.
The fruit is about the size of a large blueberry ye
|Contact: Kathleen Phillips|
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications