For those not familiar with them, acai berries are nutrient-dense berries derived from a species of palm trees native to Central and South America known as Euterpe oleracea. These flavorful berries are rich in anthocyanins that contribute to their dark purple hue, not to mention other antioxidants that offer a wide range of health benefits when consumed regularly. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize the oxidative effects of free radicals responsible for numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s and even certain cancers. The list of benefits does not end there as antioxidants can also help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles commonly associated with premature aging. Indeed, these tiny, flavorful fruits are nothing short of amazing.
What You May Not Have Known About the Antioxidants in Acai Berries but Probably Should
In a recent oxygen-radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) test, acai berries, also known as assai palms, outranked cranberries, blueberries and many other berries in terms of antioxidant prowess. For context, an oxygen-radical absorbance capacity test is a scientific test used to gauge how effective antioxidant-containing foods are when it comes to neutralizing harmful free radicals. It is worth noting that assai palms, alongside anthocyanins, also contain polyphenols and flavonoids, both of which are equally powerful antioxidants. This undoubtedly played a significant role in enabling them to score so high when put through the ORAC test.
A Closer Look at the Anti-Aging Benefits of Acai
While there is no such thing as a fountain of youth, many people believe assai palms are the next best thing, so many are making these nearly black, dark-colored berries a permanent fixture in their diet. Along with being an excellent source of anthocyanins, polyphenols and flavonoids, assai palms are chock-full of vitamin C, which helps stimulate collagen production in the skin. When the skin has more collagen, it minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles commonly associated with premature aging. To further illustrate this point, it helps to know a little more about how the body produces collagen.
The body naturally produces collagen when it breaks down dietary proteins in the foods we consume, namely red meat, nuts, beans and certain cheeses, into amino acids. Among other things, these same amino acids work to produce the collagen protein that contributes to younger-looking skin. Unfortunately, collagen production slows down as we age, which explains why we develop fine lines, wrinkle and sagging skin as we get older. It is worth noting that this slowing in collagen production can start when individuals are still in their 20s. By the time most are in their 40s, collagen production comes to a grinding halt, according to an article published in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. The antioxidants and vitamin C in acai combat the signs of premature aging in two ways. While vitamin C naturally revs up collagen production, antioxidants protect against environmental pollutants that can be just as damaging to the skin’s appearance. Some of these skin-damaging pollutants, which can cause not only wrinkles but also irregular skin pigmentation, include the following:
- Tobacco smoke
- Particulate matter
- Vehicle exhaust
Additional Benefits That Come With Adding Acai to Your Diet
Although we have primarily discussed the benefits of acai in the context of berries, they provide the same degree of antioxidants that combat free radicals whether they are eaten by themselves, blended into a smoothie or used as part of a delicious acai bowl recipe. In all of these varying ways, these berries provide the following health benefits in addition to younger-looking skin:
- Decrease high cholesterol levels
- Improve cognitive function
- Detoxify the body
In addition to these benefits, the free-radical-fighting compounds that make up the antioxidant properties in acai may also protect against prostate and other cancers associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In summary, making acai berries a permanent fixture in your diet is an excellent way to keep your skin looking its best as you age while also reaping the benefits of better overall health.