The Nutritional Makeup of Acai

In our last lesson we provided a brief overview of the Acai Berry and touched on why people are so excited about this little purple berry. In this lesson, we dig deeper into the nutritional makeup of the Acai Berry and try to determine if Acai is a super fruit or super fad.

What Exactly is in the Acai Berry?

By far the most impressive element of the Acai berry is its antioxidant levels. To say Acai is high in antioxidants is like saying Michael Jordan was a decent player. Grapes are a high antioxidant fruit and the acai berry has 10x the antioxidants of grapes. Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant fruits, and the Acai Berry has 2x as many antioxidants as blueberries! One of the ways that antioxidants are measured is by ORAC value. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. In a later lesson we will explain exactly how ORAC works, but for now you just need to know that the higher the ORAC level of a fruit or food, the greater its antioxidant capacity.

Acai has ORAC Values That Look Like a Typo

In 2010 the USDA released a report that shows ORAC values for foods and fruits. Here is a full copy of the report.

Here are some ORAC values straight from the US Department of Agriculture Report:
  • A Golden Delicious Apple has 2,670 ORAC/100 grams
  • Blueberries – a summertime favorite is at 4,669 ORAC/100 grams
  • Cranberries, a healthy treat, has an impressive 9,090 ORAC/100 grams
  • Wild Blueberries have a wildly high score of 9,621 ORAC/100 grams
  • Acai Berry Freeze Dried Powder – Astronomical score of 102,700 ORAC/100 grams

High ORAC Levels Chart - Per 100 Grams
100% Freeze-Dried Organic Acai Berry

That is not a typo – an ORAC of 102,700 for 100 grams of Acai freeze dried powder! In a later lesson we will define freeze dried Acai powder, but at this point we just want to make it very clear that Acai is amazingly high in healthy Antioxidants!

How Does the Acai Berry Have Such High Antioxidant Levels?

That deep, beautiful purple color in the Acai Berry is not just for show! The purple pigmentation in the Acai Berry comes from something called Anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are Flavonoid pigments that plants and fruits synthesize. Anthocyanins give plants and fruits their beautiful pigmentation, but they also act as a sunscreen for plants and in fruits the bright color attracts animals which feast on the fruits and in the process disperse the seeds. However, the aspect of Anthocyanins that is of most interest in regard to the Acai fruit is their antioxidant properties.

The Acai Berry, growing in the hot Amazon Rainforest, is exposed to strong sunlight and faces a tremendous amount of ultra violet light stress. This UV light can trigger free radicals to form in the Acai Berry, but the Acai fights the free radicals by developing high levels of Anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have very strong antioxidants properties and can quench the free radicals.

Okay, you are probably wondering when this lesson turned into a biology class on fruits – don't worry, let's tie this all back into humans. The very interesting thing about the antioxidant properties of Anthocyanins is that they are maintained even after they are eaten by another organism. So, when you eat Acai berries, you are getting all the Anthocyanins from the Acai and in turn all the antioxidant power of the Acai Berry.

Is There More to Acai Than Just Antioxidants?

Absolutely! While the antioxidant levels of Acai are very impressive, there is much more to the nutritional makeup of the Acai Berry.

Healthy Fats

Nearly 50% of the Acai Berry is fat - with 74% of the fat coming from healthy Unsaturated Fats such as Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9.

Rich in Amino Acids and Protein

7.59% of the weight of the Acai pulp is from Amino Acids. 19 different Amino Acids have been identified in Acai. In addition, Acai has over 8 grams of Protein in a 100 gram serving.

Excellent Source of Plant Sterols

Three Plant Sterols (or photosterols) have been identified in Acai - B-Sitosterol, Campesterol and Sigmasterol. Photosterols have been shown to have numerous health benefits for maintaining healthy heart and digestive function.

Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E are all present in Acai. In fact, Acai contains as much Vitamin C as blueberries and has over 1000 IU of Vitamin A for every 100 grams of Acai. In addition, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Zinc are all found in Acai.

Good Source of Fiber

For a fruit, Acai has a strong Fiber profile. There are about 14 grams of Fiber in every 100 grams of freeze dried Acai powder.

There is Still More to Learn About the Nutritional Makeup of Acai

As impressive as all the above may sound, there is still a great deal researchers do not know about the Acai berry. It is likely that as scientists do further tests on the Acai berry they will discover more Phytonutrients that make up the Acai Berry.

Acai Sounds Nutritious, But What Will It Really Do For Me?

Excellent question. In fact, just because you asked such a terrific question, we have decided to write an entire lesson on the health benefits of the Acai Berry.

Read our next lesson, The Health Benefits of Acai...

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*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat cure or prevent any disease.

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