Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Cooking with Fey! On this dreary rainy day I thought we could remember the splendor of summer by talking about acai berries!
Why acai berries? Because these last few years they have become a buzzword food that few of the clients I work with actually know why. So today I thought I would set the record straight about why people consume acai berries– other than for their delicious taste! Acai berries, powders and juices are more than just a fancy new talking point for health enthusiasts, they also have health benefits to add to your diet such as: protecting our heart, improving cognitive function and slowing down certain cancers.
Acai berries also contain these helpful nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Phytochemical- Anthocyanins
Vitamin A is necessary for human growth and development, cell recognition, sight, proper immune system function, sexual reproduction, as well as helping the heart, lungs, and kidneys to function normally. While Vitamin A sounds like a miracle, be careful how much you take. If you ingest too much it can be harmful to the body. Most doctors recommend that adult men consume 900 mcg per day, and women take 700 mcg per day to stay within healthy levels.
Now, you may be thinking, “why on earth do I care about fiber?” But worry not, I am about to explain about the different types of fiber, and why you should care.
Soluble Fiber is like the police force of the body. This type of fiber attaches itself to cholesterol particles in the body and helps them to be removed when we visit the restroom. This is very important because it helps to reduce the body’s overall cholesterol levels, which can be a contributing factor to heart disease.
Insoluble fiber can be thought of like a massive sponge in the large intestines. This type of fiber draws in water and helps regulate the movement of food through our intestines. So if you are having problems going to the restroom, then the insoluble fiber in prunes can help.
Calcium is the essential mineral everyone was taught as a kid would help us build strong bones. And you are right in remembering that from 3rd grade science. Calcium is vital for the health of our bones, and for slowing down bone density loss as we age. The mineral calcium also impacts the muscle that surrounds blood vessels, causing it to relax. Which is important for blood pressure and muscle contraction. Just remember, it is difficult for the body to effective absorb calcium without the presence of Vitamin D in the body, so be sure to have an adequate source of Vitamin D in your diet to maximize the effects of calcium.
As you may know, acai berries contain a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Science is also starting to show that diets rich in antioxidants have a positive effect on cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. While these illnesses currently have no known cure, diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can lower the risk of developing these diseases later in life.
Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that have disease-fighting properties when ingested by humans. This is just a complicated way of saying that phytochemicals are an important part of a healthy diet to prevent certain diseases.
The phytochemical, anthocyanin, found in acai berries, has been shown to lower oxidative stress and inflammation, which can promote brain health and function. Anthocyanins are also being shown by scientific research to enhance and improve memory. Scientists think the compound works by reducing neuro-inflammation, increasing synaptic function and improving blood flow to and in the brain. But the amazing benefits of anthocyanin don’t stop here. This phytochemical has been shown by other studies to reduce the risk of heart attacks in young or middle-aged women when consumed as a part of a daily diet, and acai berries also work to decrease the levels of bad LDL cholesterol in the body. Furthermore, laboratory studies are starting to show that anthocyanins have anti-cancer properties that prevent certain cancers from spreading, they induce cancer cell death and inhibit the growth of some tumors! Thank goodness for anthocyanins!