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Acai Berry: Health benefits to Our Skin and Weight

Acai Berry: Health benefits to Our Skin and Weight

When it comes to health and wellness, you are familiar with the usual buzzwords. “Superfood” and “Power-packed” get thrown around a lot. Likewise, the words probably bring to mind images of leafy kale and bright, juicy blueberries. If you’ve ever visited a health-foods restaurant, then you probably also think of Acai berries.

The long, reddish-purple berry that closely resembles a blueberry is rich in antioxidants. In fact, many makeup and cosmetic brands even use it as an ingredient for their skincare! While there is debate as to whether or not Acai specifically promotes weight loss, there is no doubt that berries are part of a healthy diet which can aid in reduced pounds.

What is Acai?

The acai berry comes from the acai palm tree, which is native to Central and South America. The pulp is richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and even blueberries [1].

According to research, Acai really became popular around 2009. One website recorded this shocking find: “According to Spins, a market research and consulting firm for the natural products industry, Americans spent more than $108 million on acai products in the 52 weeks ending Feb. 21, up from just over $62 million the year before. [2].

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As you might expect, Acai berries are pretty fragile, so it’s hard to find them whole anywhere but Central and South America. That means most connoisseurs are going to have to purchase powdered or frozen acai pulp to add to smoothies.

While plenty of people like to add powder or frozen berries to smoothies, these antioxidant-rich superfoods can also be added to skincare.

    Raw acai berry

    Nutritional Profile

    While some fruits can often be high in natural sugar, acai berries remain relatively low. Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional profile of 100g of the food [3]:

    • Calories: 70
    • Calories from Carbs: 16
    • Calories from Fat: 50
    • Calories from Protein: 4
    • Vitamin A: 750 IU
    • Calcium: 20mg
    • Sodium: 10mg
    • Dietary fiber: 2g
    • Sugars: 2g

    Health Benefits

    Acai berries, like all fruits, have some pretty exciting health benefits. Here are some of the most important ones [4].

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    Acai helps to prevent cancer

    Remarkably, antioxidants found in Acai berries have been shown to kill cancer cells, especially leukemia. Other research proved Acai began destroying cancer cells in less than 24 hours of ingestion. In one exiting study, the berries successfully killed 86 percent of lung cancer cells [5]

    Acai helps aid weight loss by reducing appetite

    Some research indicates acai berry pulp is effective for weight loss for most people. In fact, it has been shown to reduce the negative impact of high-fat diets. If you’ve ever perused your local health food store, you may have noticed supplements boasting their acai contents. This is due to reports illustrating the health benefits of the food. One such study found that 30 days of using acai supplements or eating the berry on its own allowed for lower levels of fasting insulin and glucose.

    Acai is useful in treating various skin disorders

    Antioxidants have long been known to help boost skin health, and Acai berries are no exception. They can prevent early aging and even help regenerate skin cells. Our ancestors are believed to have used Acai and other antioxidant-rich foods internally and externally to prevent breakdown of skin cells and to avoid dark spots ,wrinkles and fine lines [6].

    Acai reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and stroke

    Acai berries are high in something called anthocyanin. This antioxidant is also found in red wine and has the ability to lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream! These powerful antioxidants can prevent blood clots and enhance oxygen flow to your blood while lowering the overall risk of stroke and heart attacks [7].

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    Acai boosts mental function and sharpness

    Unfortunately, we can’t always prevent certain things in our bodies from going downhill as we age. Damaged cells accumulate in our brains and can cause Alzheimer’s and other memory and mental related issues. Polyphenols are what give berries their red/blue hues. They activate proteins that can undo damaged cells [8].

    Acai aids in healthy digestion

    Acai berries detoxify the digestive tract and assist in healthy digestion. The berries are also a great source of dietary fiber. Many berries are high in fiber, but acai is one of the best [9].

    How to prepare Acai and incorporate it into your diet

    While Acai berries can be eaten on their own, they are typically added into smoothies or smoothie bowls or taken in a supplement form. If you like sweeter breakfasts, the pulp can be added on top of your waffles. When baking, they can easily be added into the recipe in place of other fruits. Acai juice also serves as an ideal substitute for juices or wines in receipts and is a great addition to marinades, sauces and salad dressings [10].

    Acai Bowl Recipe

    While there are plenty of acai smoothie bowl receipts out there, this one from Bakerita is one of our faves.

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      Acai breakfast bowl

      Ingredients:

      • 2 bananas, frozen
      • 1 packet unsweetened acai blend
      • 1 Cup frozen raspberries
      • 1/4-1/2 cup milk of choice

      Toppings

      • Raspberries, fresh or frozen
      • Dark chocolate, chopped
      • Chocolate hazelnut spread
      • Shredded coconut

      Directions

      1. In a high-powered blender, combine the bananas, acai berry packet, raspberry and 1/4 cup milk. Blend until completely smooth, adding up to 1/4 cup more milk if necessary to blend smooth.
      2. Pour into a bowl and top with raspberries, dark chocolate, coconut and a drizzle of chocolate hazelnut spread. Enjoy immediately [11].

      Make sure to share this post along with your favorite way to enjoy Acai. Now, time to go to the store and load up on antioxidant goodness!

      Reference

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      Jolie Choi

      Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

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      Last Updated on July 28, 2020

      14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

      14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

      Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

      What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

      The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

      Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

      It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

      Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

      In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

      Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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      Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

      1. Quinoa

      GI: 53

      Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

      2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

      GI: 50

      Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

      3. Corn on the Cob

      GI: 48

      Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

      4. Bananas

      GI: 47

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      Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

      They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

      5. Bran Cereal

      GI: 43

      Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

      6. Natural Muesli

      GI: 40

      Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

      7. Apples

      GI: 40

      Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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      8. Apricots

      GI: 30

      Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

      Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

      9. Kidney Beans

      GI: 29

      Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

      10. Barley

      GI: 22

      Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

      Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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      11. Raw Nuts

      GI: 20

      Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

      12. Carrots

      GI: 16

      Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

      13. Greek Yogurt

      GI: 12

      Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

      14. Hummus

      GI: 6

      When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

      Bottom Line

      If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

      More Tips on Eating Healthy

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

      Reference

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