Multisport Magazine Issue 22 - Page 42

PURE PERFORMANCE | NUTRITION BY DR LUCY SHEWELL I ’ll admit that I enjoy the occasional açaí bowl – and not just to look ‘trendy’. I find them very tasty and refreshing, and with such a vibrant colour I assume they must contain compounds that have health benefits. However, I am always dubious of so-called ‘superfoods’. The scientist in me had to dig deeper into this açaí phenomenon that has swept over all the cafés in my local area. I wanted to know if it was actually worth spending $12.50 for a small bowl of blended purple mush with some chopped fruit and coconut on top. So I went to the scientific literature and had a look at the actual studies that have been conducted on açaí. What is açaí? Firstly, what exactly is açaí? Açaí, or Euterpe oleracea Martius to be precise, is a slender, multi-stemmed palm plant that can reach over 30 meters. It is widely distributed in northern South America and is particularly abundant and important in the flood plains of the Brazilian Amazonian state of Pará. Each palm tree produces 3 to 4 bunches of berry-like fruit, each bunch having from 3 to 6kg of fruit. These round-shaped fruit start as green clusters but ripen to a dark, purple-coloured fruit that ranges from 1 – 1.5cm in diameter. The seed makes up most of the fruit, which is covered by thin fibers. There is a small edible layer under these fibres. Only 17% of the fruit is edible. Açaí berries are not eaten fresh. A juice can be made by crushing the edible pulp that is approximately 2.4% protein and 5.9% fat. This is known as açaí pulp. It is very perishable and must be frozen for export. OK, now that we are clear on what açaí is let me tell you what I found in the scientific literature. Well, there’s been 186 studies published on açaí. One of the first studies was in 2004 and was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This study analysed the anthocyanin and polyphenolic compounds in açaí and the contribution these compounds have to its antioxidant capacity. It was shown that açaí pulp has a high antioxidant content compared to other anthocyanin-rich fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. In fact, açaí pulp had 10 times the antioxidant content of blueberries and double the antioxidant conte Bb&7&W'&W2r6VBF2&P&VVf6f"W"VF'&VfǒFPC"TD5%BtP&GV7Fb&V7FfRvV7V6W2 g&VR&F62fR&VVƖ6FVB6G&'WFrFV&W"b6&0F6V6W27V62ǦVW.( 2F6V6R6&Ff67V"F6V6RBF&WFW2FP'&2'F7V&ǒ6V6FfRF&V7FfPvV7V6W2FWF'FFG27V62ǗV2V&WfVBFW6PF6V6W26WFRWG&VBǗ62`g&VWRG&VB:v:fVBFBB6F06GW&FVBBV6GW&FVBfGG6G2֖6G2rbRbFFvVvB@7FW&2B7FW&2&R6VG2F@fR&VV6vFvW"D6W7FW&:v:27GVǒVFRv6&W2GVRFFR&W6V6RbFRfGG6G2B26WFRV6FrfG2&FV0B6VG2b6&&G&FW2:v:26vB6W&6RbF76VvW6V66V7'W26FVЦBfF֖2RB"FFFg&VWRG&VB:v:v26vFfRFPvW7B&W'FVBFFB7FfGv7BFRW&&F6&V7FfPvV7V6W2WBbfBࠢ$8tT0DU2DPDDE0b$TT$U%$U0BDT$R`$5$U%$U2 FW"6WBb6VG2v0Ɩv2fR&VVFVFfVB:v:FPƖv2g&:v:6G&'WFRFFPFFB7FfGbF2g'VBइV7GVFW2ffr:v:67VF7GVFW26GV7FVB2fR6vFVF6FfRVF&VVfG2g&FP67VFb66VFp&fVVG2FR6W7FW&WfV2ইW&6W7FW&V֖2&G2B&&&G2&FV7Fv7BFR6&7FW&7F72`WF&Ɩ27G&R֖6RB&VGV7Fb666W"&G26V&6VB762fR6&VVW&f&VBBfRfVBFB:v:6&FV7BV&VB&B6V2BvFP&B6V2g&FFfRFvR&VGV6PFFfRFvRBfFࠠ