Dr. Perricone, who wrote the best seller: "The Perricone Promise" named the Acai berry as the #1 Superfood in the world. The Acai fruit has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
What is Acai? Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-EE ) is a fruit that grows on the Acai Palm Trees in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil. The Acai berry is small in size (smaller than a grape) and is dark purple in color. Acai is mostly seed, covered in a small amount of pulp.
We are all made up of atoms. Atoms that have a full outer shell of electrons tend to be happy, peaceful and inert atoms. They tend not to enter into chemical reactions and enjoy a mellow life in your body.
Atoms that do NOT have a full outer shell of electrons are unhappy and unstable. Something is missing in their life - and they very badly want to get another electron so they can be stable and inert. These unstable atoms are called - Free Radicals.
Free radicals tend to move quickly to try to steal an electron from whatever molecule happens to be around them. Of course, whoever they steal an electron from becomes a new free radical and the process is like a domino effect.
Free radicals are not evil or bad - in moderation. Our body performs many functions and there will always be some free radicals created. However, if the level of free radicals gets too high in the body, you can run into major problems. Numerous diseases and health issues have been linked to high levels of free radicals.
One of the more common types of free radicals are oxygen free radicals. These are oxygen atoms missing an electron. You know that rust you see on the side of your car - well the same thing basically happens inside our body. Oxidative stress is what it is called when oxygen free radicals start to cause damage in your body.
What causes Free Radicals?
Breathing, eating, moving - basically living! Yes, basically any stress we put on our body can cause free radicals. While obvious things like polluted air, smoking, stressful events and unhealthy foods can cause free radicals - many "healthy" activities can also create free radicals. Almost any type of exercise will put stress on our body - we all know the saying "no pain, no gain". Well, all this stress on our muscles creates free radicals.
Antioxidants to the rescue
So, how do you turn a free radical into a harmless cell? You give the free radical the extra electron it so desperately wants. What substance can supply this extra electron? You guessed it - antioxidants. Antioxidants are any substances that prevent or slow the oxidation process. Remember, free radicals cause oxidation - and antioxidants prevent oxidation. Antioxidants work by donating an electron to a free radical so it becomes a stable oxygen molecule.
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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has initiated studies to look at the link between antioxidant rich food and aging.
Here are some direct quotes from the USDA website -
"Studies at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston suggest that consuming fruits and vegetables with a high-ORAC value may help slow the aging process in both body and brain." Ronald L. Prior, the researcher for the USDA study went on to suggest that "the ORAC measure may help define the dietary conditions needed to prevent tissue damage."
"Science has long held that damage by oxygen free radicals is behind many of the maladies that come with aging, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. There's firm evidence that a high intake of fruits and vegetables reduces risk of cancer and that a low intake raises risk. And recent evidence suggests that diminished brain function associated with aging and disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases may be due to increased vulnerability to free radicals, says Joseph, a neuroscientist. "
- "Can Foods Forestall Aging?", published in the February 1999 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.