Direct from Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet, deep in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil, healing acai berries dangle from acai palm trees. Recognizing the curative powers of acai centuries before it was introduced to the West, the Yanomani tribe refers to the acai palm as the “Tree of Life.”
Impressed with its restorative properties, which work from the inside out, Brazilians have dubbed acai “The Beauty Berry,” and the West is finally catching on.
In his New York Times #1 bestseller, “The Perricone Promise,” celebrated nutritionist / dermatologist, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, lists acai health benefits as the #1 Superfood.
“Superfood” is the health food industry’s stamp of approval for low-calorie, antioxidant-rich foods that lower your risk for life-threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Acai, pronounced (ah-sigh-EE), isn’t your typical antioxidant-laden fruit. It is also high in essential fatty acids, amino acids and fiber, making it perhaps the most well-rounded, edible fruit on the planet.
This small but mighty fruit measures approximately 1-inch long and is colored varying shades of dark purple. Made up of 90% inedible seed, acai’s 10% edible pulp packs in more grams of protein than an egg and contains 15 times the amount of antioxidants as red grapes and 30% more antioxidants than blueberries.
In fact, its ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)–the scientific measurement of a nutrient’s antioxidant magnitude–is over 3500, the highest capacity of any fruit!
The Low-Down on Antioxidants
You’ve probably heard the buzz about antioxidants, but just what are they, and what role do they play in your health?
Antioxidants are phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients that prevent oxidation from occurring in your body. To understand oxidation, just imagine what happens to a cut apple when it is left uncovered for a couple of hours. It begins to brown and rot. The same process happens inside your body if it is not protected by antioxidants.
What causes the oxidation? Your body produces harmful byproducts called free radicals–unstable molecules that scavenge your tissues looking for electrons to steal. In the process, healthy tissues are destroyed, leading to aging and disease.
Unfortunately, we have entered an age of free radical overload, as our bodies are also attacked from the outside in via pollution, cigarette smoke and toxins from cleaning products and herbicides.
Antioxidants interrupt this destructive cycle by volunteering one of their own electrons, satisfying the voracious free radical before it can damage your cells.
Fortifying your body with antioxidant rich foods, particularly acai berries, halts the aging process, restarting long-lasting health and protecting against the oxidative stress that triggers diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Acai’s Unique Composition
Acai health benefits have all the typical vitamins and minerals found in popular fruits, but also contains unique, never-before-seen plant compounds. Acai contains the potent antioxidants flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are responsible for acai’s rich color and thought to be the key to acai’s remarkable restorative and preventative powers.
Scientists have still not figured out the exact makeup of this Superfood. Dr. Stephen Talcott of the University of Florida discovered 50-75 active natural molecules in acai that have yet to be classified.
The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published Talcott’s study, which showed that acai health benefits were able to trigger apoptosis (cell death) in 86% of leukemia cells tested in vitro. Talcott was realistic but hopeful, explaining, “This was only a cell-culture model and we don’t want to give anyone false hope,” Talcott said.
“We are encouraged by the findings, however. Compounds that show good activity against cancer cells in a model system are most likely to have beneficial effects in our bodies.”
Antioxidants alone are enough to encourage indulgence in this decadent fruit. Add omegas 3-6-9 to the mix and acai health benefits truly earns its Superfood status. This perfect balance of omegas improves the look and feel of hair, skin and nails, and reduces inflammation inside the body.
Inflammation is recognized as one of the primary causes of life-threatening illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Acai health benefits also contains a healthy dose of fiber, amino acids and carbohydrates that boost your immune system and your metabolism, thereby slowing aging and promoting longevity.
The American Society for Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery estimates that 90% of women have cellulite, but we’d venture to guess that every woman grapples with unwanted dimples at some point in her life. It doesn’t matter if you’re curvy or skinny, short or tall… the fact that you’re a woman is enough of a reason for cellulite to strike. You may be more susceptible due to genetics, poor circulation, toxin buildup and inflammation. When fat cells grow larger and push through your fibrous bands of tissue, the cottage cheese look crops up on thighs, bellies and arms.
We aren’t sitting idly by. Cellulite is big business. American women spend upwards of $12 million annually on expensive anti-cellulite lotions. Cellulite cures, both natural and surgical, attempt to melt away the fat that has accumulated in your tissues, while encouraging collagen and elastin growth. (Collagen and elastin are the main components of connective tissue; the stronger your collagen, the less your cellulite.) Before you spend any more money on creams that temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite, let’s take a look at some dietary changes you can implement that may actually help eradicate cellulite for good.
The Anti-Cellulite Diet
If heart disease and insulin resistance aren’t enough to get you to cut back on your salt and sugar intake, then perhaps cellulite will convince you. You may eat a low-fat diet, but if you eat too much sugar you’re still exacerbating the growth of fat cells. Excess sugar gets trapped in fat cells, causing them to swell into unsightly cellulite. Likewise, too much salt promotes fluid retention, which shines a spotlight on your cottage cheese. In order to minimize the appearance of cellulite, limit sugar consumption to six teaspoons per day, and don’t eat foods with more than 200 mg of sodium.
You can also help banish cellulite with the flaxseed trick. Flaxseed maintains estrogen levels and encourages collagen production. Add two tablespoons to cereal, yogurt or oatmeal each day.
Supplement with seaweed. Kelp contains a chlorophyll compound called fucoxanthin that revs up the body’s fat-burning engines. Studies have found that supplementing with kelp can trigger a loss in body weight of 5-10% and directly reduce the appearance of cellulite. Add dry kelp to soup, or sprinkle it on stir-fries and salads. If supplementing in tablet form, look for a concentration of 300 mg.
Gotu kola extract has also been clinically shown to reduce cellulite by improving skin elasticity and thickness.
If you’re looking for a quick fix to help mask cellulite, look for a cream containing the organic compound aminophylline, which helps break down trapped fat. Vitamin C is another superstar ingredient known for its collagen-boosting effects. Retinol cream is an effective cellulite solution that defends against the free radicals that damage collagen. Look for 100% retinol cream with added vitamins A, C and E.