Acai Smoothies Reduce Diabetes, Cardiovascular Risk Factors

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A refreshing acai smoothie every day may improve blood sugar, insulin, and total cholesterol levels, risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The results of the exploratory study are published in the Nutrition Journal.

Acai has previously shown health benefits

Acai berries are reddish, purple fruit that come from the acai palm tree, native to South and Central America. They are often touted for a variety of health benefits, principally because they are high in antioxidants known as phenolics; namely anthocyanins, pigments found in grapes and red wine; and flavonoids.

In an open label, uncontrolled pilot study, 10 overweight adults were provided with a daily dose of 200 grams (two 100-gram doses daily) of acai pulp in the form of a smoothie. The proprietary acai puree (Sambazon) used in the study contained 6.4 g fatty acids, 4.5 mg/mL phenolics, and 5.3 g fiber per 100-gram dose.

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Before and after the study period, risk factors of metabolic syndrome were measured in the participants, including cholesterol levels, insulin and glucose levels, and blood levels of a marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein. Metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers, led by Jay Udani, MD, CEO of Medicus Research, found that daily consumption of the acai smoothies resulted in a significant reductions in glucose, insulin, and total cholesterol levels, while C-reaction protein levels and blood pressure did not change.

Studies in the prevention of diabetes have noted that a reduction in fasting glucose of 3.6 percent and in cholesterol of 2.3 percent result in a significant reduction (58%) in the risk of becoming diabetic. In this current study, fasting glucose was reduced by 5.3 percent and cholesterol by 10.6 percent, both of which are greater than those deemed necessary to reduce the risk of diabetes.

The study’s authors remarked that the high fiber, antioxidant, and fatty acid combination in acai appear to be one reason why the mixture was effective in reducing risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Udani noted that “further placebo-controlled studies with a larger study population are warranted.”

SOURCE:
Udani JK et al. Nutrition Journal 2011; 10:45

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