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|Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor|
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a tropical super fruit packed full of antioxidants that provide numerous health benefits. A recent animal study from researchers at the Federal University of Para. PA, Brazil shows that acai may help improve cholesterol levels and reduce atherosclerotic plaque.
The findings were published in the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis online ahead of print on December 3, 2011.
The researchers fed adult male New Zealand white rabbits a high cholesterol diet for 12 weeks. For the following 12 weeks, the rabbits consumed either acai extract or a placebo of water, while continuing with the high cholesterol diet.
Blood samples and specimens of the rabbits’ aortas were taken at the end of the study period. The researchers found that the rabbits who consumed acai had lower blood levels of total cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides than the rabbits who received the placebo.
The acai group also had less atherosclerotic plaque in their aortas, although there was no difference in the composition of the plaque between the two groups.
Acai berries were introduced to the western world during the last few decades and their benefits are just beginning to be verified by the scientific community. The researchers in this study expressed a need for further human studies to discover the exact effect of acai on cholesterol and atherosclerosis.
Indigenous Amazonian tribes have been consuming acai berries for thousands of years. The berries look like grapes but taste like a tropical fruit. Previous studies have found that acai may boost the immune system, fight infection, protect the heart and control prostate enlargement.
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