Acai Berry

RioLife’s Acai Nutrition Guide (Part 5) – Presented by

Heart friendly nutrients

We know that certain diets promote heart disease. And we also know that the proper diet can help reduce heart risk, even if you have risk factors which cannot change (such as age, genetics and family history of the disease). However, we also know that the lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and smoking are modifiable!  That’s great news.

One of the key aspects of a heart friendly diet is the inclusion of fruits and vegetables and the replacement of saturated fat in the diet by unsaturated fats.

Numerous research studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce heart disease and stroke by 25%! So what about these foods that help reduce our risk?

It is believed that it’s the abundance of antioxidants. One way that antioxidants guard against heart disease is by protecting the LDL, or bad cholesterol from oxidizing – which is what forms plaque in our arteries and hence causes atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Acai is cholesterol-free. It is naturally cholesterol-free since cholesterol only comes from animal products! Why do we want to lower our cholesterol? This is because it is linked to heart disease. Açaí is not only cholesterol-free, but low in the heart-clogging saturated fat and high in the heart-friendly unsaturated fats and fibre. Together, these nutrients help reduce your cholesterol, making Açaí a heart-healthy fruit!

Let’s take a look at the types of fat in Açaí. There are three types of fats found in our foods. Saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature (your vegetable oils, with the exception of coconut and palm which are mainly saturated).

Açaí is low in saturated fats. These are the fats that increase your cholesterol and clog up your arteries. Açaí contains the unsaturated fats omega-6 and omega-9 (a classification  of the type of unsaturated fats), which reduce LDL-cholesterol levels (think L = Low, so we want them to be low in our blood) when they replace saturated fats in our diet.

Açaí is richer in monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats maintain the good HDL-cholesterol levels (think H = healthy, or you want it to be high) in our blood. Monounsaturated fats are less susceptible to oxidation than polyunsaturated oils. This makes monounsaturated fats a heart-healthy choice. These fatty acids maintain the cell membrane’s fluidity, which allows our hormones, neurotransmitters, and insulin receptors to function more efficiently. Other sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, macadamia oil and canola oil.

The berry’s synergy of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fibre, and antioxidants make it a heart friendly fruit!

Independent author: Flavia Fayet from
Flavia Fayet has completed her Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Sydney, and is currently working on her PHD. She is a respected Dietician and lecturer at Sydney University.
Copyright (c) Nutriesca 2006

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