Euterpe oleracea Mart., commonly called açaí (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee), is a palm tree that grows in South America and in the rainforests of Brazil. The skin of the palm tree’s berry is the part that is garnering public attention as a super food with miraculous healing qualities.
The excitement stems from the high amounts of age-defying antioxidants that the berry skin contains. These flavonoids block diseased cells. A recent study shows that the bioactive polyphenolics present in acai berry reduce the proliferation of certain leukemia cells in a dose and time-dependent manner.
In addition, açaí berry skin is chock full of amino acids and essential fatty acids (whose benefits will be explored more fully later). Many of the herbal wonders for hair are applied topically as shampoos, conditioners, leave-in conditions, gels, balms and pomades. Açaí berry is a holistic healing herb that can be consumed in capsule form that still benefits hair, skin, nails and vitality. It can be enjoyed as a refreshing juice drink or added to a smoothie. Today, several skin and hair care products contain açaí berry.
This article discusses the abundant healing qualities of this wonder-berry, and how it can be used to revive and heal your entire system.
The Beneficial Berry
Unlike some distasteful health foods, the açaí berry has a vibrant taste similar to dark-chocolate-covered cherries or blueberry ice cream with chocolate flakes. It tastes very interesting, which entices us to enjoy it for its many other positive attributes.
Benefits reported include:
Greater energy and vitality Increased stamina Improved circulation Improved digestion Better sleep Improved sexual function Açaí berry contains an array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. It has more protein in it than an egg. It contains good concentrations of Vitamins B2, B2, E and omega 6 and 9.
Essential Fatty Acids in Açaí
Acai contains the EFA’s Omega 3, 6 and 9. The fatty acid content is similar to that of olive oil. It is also rich in oleic acid a monounsaturated antioxidant. Here is a breakdown on the beneficial qualities of the EFA’s contained in acai berry.
Alpha Linolenic Acid is the primary Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s are helpful in forming cell walls keeping them flexible and improving circulation as well as oxygen intake. Omega-3’s help with mental abilities and memory function. Deficient Omega-3 contributes to poor vision, blood clots, poor immunity, increased triglycerides and bad cholesterol at increased levels; high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, learning disorders, slower growth levels in infants, children and fetuses. It also causes menopausal discomfort.
The Omega-6 in acai berry skin (Linoleic acid) is significant because of its numerous overall health benefits. Linoleic acid is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve diabetic conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems like eczema and psoriasis and help with cancer treatments. While many of us get an excess of linoleic acid in our diets it is not converted into useful gamma linoleic acid (GLA) because of metabolic problems caused by bad dietary habits, smoking, pollution, stress, aging, viral infections and other illnesses.
Oleic acid, called Omega-9, is not considered an essential acid however it still contains significant health benefits. Omega-9 lowers heart attack risk, arteriosclerosis and helps with cancer prevention.
ORACs and Açaí
ORAC is an acronym that stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a measurement of antioxidants in foods. Healthy consumption of ORAC-rich foods helps prevent premature aging. Scientists believe we need between 2,400 and 3,000 units of ORAC for health benefits. One serving of pulp juice prepared from the açaí berry skin contains a whooping 3,800 units of ORAC.
Anthocyanins in Açaí
Another important constituent of açaí is anthocyanin. This provides some of the health benefits of red wine, yet the amount of anthocyanins in acai berry contains 10 to 33 times more. It contains twice as much anthocyanins as blueberries.
Açaí, Your Hair and Skin
The combination of acai berry’s vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, EFAs and chemical constituents come together to greatly benefit the hair and skin.
Açaí’s Helpful Vitamins
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Vitamin B3 (Niacin) While acai doesn’t contain the full B complex, the B vitamins it does contain are known to strengthen the hair and encourage hair growth. Deficient vitamin Bs in the system contributes to dry scalp, greasy hair, dandruff, retarded hair growth, graying hair, wrinkled skin, parched lips, dry skin, irritations and red complexion. These vitamins could be taken orally but many doctors are recommend getting them through foods, such as acai.
Vitamin C Combined with protein — which açaí also contains — this vitamin creates collagen. Collagen is essential for healthy skin. Ample C deters sagging skin and wrinkles. Vitamin C is responsible for keeping the skin moist, preventing lines and crinkling, spider veins, tangled hair and hair breakage by regulating the sebaceous glands. In addition, vitamin C benefits the eyes, teeth, immune system and skin.
Vitamin E (tocopherol) Vitamin E is known to help prevent wrinkle and premature aging of skin and hair. Vitamin E also prevents dry, lifeless skin, hair breakage and dandruff. It improves the healing of scars and wounds as well as overall circulation.
Minerals of Açaí : Conditioning Hair and Skin
Calcium Contributes to hair growth, strength and healthy condition of hair.
Potassium Regulates the circulation improving hair growth and skin condition.
Hair is primarily made of the protein keratin. Diets deficient in protein lead to all sorts of hair problems, including hair breakage, slow hair growth and thinning. Adequate amounts of protein in the diet are believed to accentuate hair growth, strength and condition.
Other: Amino Acids
Açaí contains a healthy amount of amino acids. Amino acids are constantly required by the hair follicles to maintain hair growth.
Açaí in Hair Care Products
One of the great concerns of many curly tops, whether it be wavy, curly or kinky, is frizz. Açaí helps eliminate frizz. The Surya Henna line uses açaí as a humectant and and frizz buster. The Florestas natural hair care company also feature an açaí berry line. Açaí juice can be found in most well-stocked health food stores as well as acai supplements in capsule form.