Acai berries are fruits of the acai palm tree, native to South America and Central America. Traditionally, people have used acai for its many health benefits. It became popular in the United States when the Oprah Winfrey Show claimed the berries could make you lose weight.
While it's true that acai berries are rich in antioxidants, the research around their effectiveness in weight loss is still a bit insufficient. However, you can still use the weight loss wonder fruit to get closer to your body goals.
Can acai help you lose weight?
Nowadays, there are many claims from supposed health experts about using acai to lose weight. There is not enough evidence to prove this scientifically. Only one study at the UCLA School of Medicine found that acai supplements help reduce the likelihood of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Since these conditions are often associated with obesity, acai may likely take an indirect route to help you lose weight. Otherwise, there is no evidence to prove that it directly burns fats or causes weight loss in any other way.
Tips to make acai bowls
Even if acai does not directly help you lose weight, it contains many antioxidants that are good for your body. Acai bowls make healthy snacks and breakfasts. Follow these tips to maintain their goodness.
Make them yourself
Don't be tempted to buy frozen acai packets from the store or online. You don't know which ingredients are present since the FDA temporarily allowed the food manufacturing industry to change the ingredients in an item without changing the label.
Instead, make your own acai bowls at home. You can control the ingredients you put in the bowl.
Watch the portion size
Just because it's healthy doesn't mean you should eat a mega-sized bowl. Eat a regular fruit portion size of acai. You can mix other berries or yogurt to make the bowl taste even more delicious.
Cut out the sweeteners and toppings
Don't put too many toppings on your acai berries in an attempt to create a picture-worthy acai bowl. Nuts, coconut, and granola are healthy toppings, but they also have many calories. You should only put one or two toppings in your acai bowl.
As for sweeteners, don't depend on artificial sugars. Instead, you can use honey to sweeten up your acai bowl.
Put more proteins
To make your acai bowl protein-rich, put chia seeds or peanut butter in it. It will lower the glycemic load or carb content of the acai bowl. Proteins also help keep you feeling full for a long time and do not cause bloating.
Add some greens
Like all other berries, acai is also rich in sugars. You will have a high carb load in your acai bowl if you add honey and other toppings to the mix. Balance this out by putting some greens in the bowl. Some good options are kale and spinach.
Other benefits of acai
Weight loss is the most commonly known benefit of acai berries, but the fruit also has other advantages for your body.
Acai is very nutritious. Eating 100 grams of acai puree will give you 2 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs, and 0.2 grams of saturated fat. You also get vitamin A and calcium from acai.
A study showed that acai has several other minerals, such as copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium. The body requires all these minerals for everyday functions.
May improve cholesterol levels
Some studies show that acai may lower cholesterol levels. A 2011 study in 10 obese individuals indicated that they had a lower amount of low-density or "bad" cholesterol in their bodies after drinking acai smoothies twice a day for one month.
More research is needed on the subject. Experts suggest that this effect of acai may be due to the presence of anthocyanins in the fruit. These are chemical compounds that improve cholesterol levels.
Acai also has sterols. These compounds prevent your body from absorbing too much cholesterol from food.
May improve brain function
Acai could also positively affect your brain function. Since it is rich in different plant compounds, these components can protect your brain from internal and external damage that comes from aging.
Most other research about the effectiveness of acai in improving brain health comes from animal study subjects. Human research will further determine if acai has the same effects on humans.
Till then, you should prepare healthy acai bowls not only for weight loss but also to improve your overall health.
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FDA: "Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Minor Formulation Changes and Vending Machines."
FoodData Central: "[HISTORICAL RECORD]: NATIVO ACAI, PURE ACAI BERRY PUREE."
Nutrition Journal: "Effects of Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: A pilot study."
Nutrition: "Restoration of stressor-induced calcium dysregulation and autophagy inhibition by polyphenol-rich acai (Euterpe spp.) fruit pulp extracts in rodent brain cells in vitro."
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