We all want to know: “What is acai good for?” If you want to go beyond the known health benefits that acai can give you, here’s a more scientific yet totally interesting take on the matter.
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the terms free radicals and antioxidants. In general, these terms are typically associated with the effects of aging and other diseases – one is the cause, the other, the antidote. But where do these actually start?
A Quick Background on Free Radicals
Our body is made up of atoms. There are the happy, stable ones which have an outer shell of electrons surrounding them, and there are also atoms on the other end of the spectrum – unhappy and unstable. These unbalanced atoms that are desperately in need of an additional electron to stabilize them are actually what we know as free radicals.
Free radicals jump from one atom to another, getting electron from other molecules as they go, and therefore creating more free radicals in the process. The not-so-good news about free radicals is that it can be caused by just about anything. Most people don’t know this but air pollutants, stress, and food chemicals are not the only causes of free radicals; they can also be brought about by our daily activities like eating, sleeping, or even doing exercises. Yes, free radicals are a given with our mere existence.
While free radicals are not detrimental to the body in low numbers, high levels of these can cause a host of diseases and health problems. Oxygen free radicals, a common type of free radical, cause damage in the body known as oxidative stress. The harm that this type of free radicals does to the body is similar to how rust eats at the side of one’s car.
How Antioxidants Help
Now that you already have an idea of how free radicals work, let’s bring the antioxidants into the picture. As defined earlier, free radicals are unstable atoms that need more electrons and cause oxidation. Antioxidants are the substances that can prevent or slow down oxidation, and they do this by bringing in that electron so badly needed by the free radical so it becomes a stable oxygen molecule.
ORAC and Acai Berry
So, in the face of all these explanations, what is acai good for? Let’s start by knowing what ORAC is. Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC, is a laboratory analysis measuring the antioxidant activity of any substance, and then assigns a “score” based on the amount of antioxidants. The higher the ORAC score, the more concentrated the antioxidant content of that particular substance.
For our health’s sake, we should choose foods that possess stronger antioxidant properties as indicated by a higher ORAC level. While the USDA advocates that an individual consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily, in reality, most of us only get to have about 1,000 ORAC units everyday.
Now here’s where acai berry reigns supreme. It is on the top of the list of fruits with the highest ORAC score, meaning it has the highest concentration of antioxidants. You may think pomegranate and blueberries are the antioxidant stars but not so. Acai berry has 67% more antioxidants than pomegranate and over 500% more antioxidants than blueberry as shown by the chart.
Now that we all know what goes on inside our bodies and how free radicals and antioxidants play a big role in our health, it’s easier to answer the question “What is acai good for?”