The allure of acai fruit lives on, this time, in the name of helping curb coronary artery disease. Cultivated in the Amazon region of Central and South America, acai fruit has received much attention over recent years as a “superfruit” for its high antioxidant content. This attention made it a popular item of choice for research. In this particular animal study, researchers attempted to determine whether or not a diet containing acai juice had a positive effect in preventing hardening of the arteries and heart disease.
In the study, researchers used mice deficient in a gene called apolipoprotein (apoE), which make them more susceptible to developing atherosclerosis (a hardening of blood vessels caused by fat deposits leading to blocked arteries and coronary artery disease). When these mice were fed an acai-juice containing diet, as compared to the mice fed a normal diet, the levels of good cholesterol increased in the acai group.
The acai-rich diet seemed to also increase levels of antioxidant enzymes while decreasing pro-inflammatory markers in mice. We still do not know the exact mechanism of how acai fruit raises HDL cholesterol, but the overall effect seems to be due to its high antioxidant content with anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers did not see any change in levels of bad cholesterol or triglyceride.
Keep in mind, however, that there are plenty of other food sources far more accessible and affordable, with similar antioxidant contents and health benefits. Other types of berries (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, for example) have been shown to have equally effective antioxidant properties as acai berries. Our advice? Get your daily dose of antioxidants by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables — they don’t necessarily have to be flown in from the Amazon.