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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Acai: Health or Hype

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Superfoods are the talk of many internet sites, but do they really live up to the hype? One of the superfoods that I often get asked about is acai berry.

Acai is a plant found in Central and South America. It has a stem and berries. The stem if often used as hearts of palm in salads, but the berry is the part that gets all of the attention. Traditionally, this berry made up a large part of the diet of people in the Amazon. You will not find whole acai berries in the grocery store because they are difficult to grow in the US and they are highly perishable and delicate so they don't ship well. You will find acai juice, pulp, and freeze-dried powder.

Potential Health Benefits
Acai berries are thought to have a very high antioxidant content. Some studies show that the total antioxidant capacity may even be higher than blueberries, strawberries, and other commonly consumed berries.

The contain anthocyanins and flavonoids. The anthocyanins give the berry it's rich blue color. These antioxidants have been shown to help protect the body against free radical damage by neutralizing free radicals.

Hype
So far studies are not promising that acai will be a miracle food that will promote weight loss or prevent or cure any diseases.

Bottom line
All fruits and vegetables contain health promoting properties found in the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fatty acids, and fiber. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get a nice mix of all nutrients. If you enjoy the taste of acai, go ahead and enjoy some juice or pulp!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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