Açaí (Euterpe oleracea)
PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
The acai oil represents a new cosmetic ingredient, originate from the Amazon forest, which provides many benefits to maintaining the cutaneous balance. Its structure is mainly composed of anthocyanins, phytosterols, essential fatty acids (EFAs). The profile of fatty acids in the acai oil qualifies it as a special edible oil, mainly due to linoleic acid (Omega 6) and oleic acid (Omega 9), and presents in its composition, predominantly, monounsaturated fatty acids (up to 61% ) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (up to 10.6%), both recommended for prevention of cardiovascular diseases .
Among the phytosterols present in the acai oil are the beta-sitosferol, the stigmasterol and the campesterol, which are widely used by the cosmetic industry as a preventive of skin aging by promoting cellular metabolism and reduction of inflammation .
It is no coincidence that the color of the acai is similar to that of red wine. Responsible for the color are the anthocyanins, an antioxidant substance that helps to fight cholesterol and free radicals. However the acai has up to 33 times more anthocyanins than grape oil.
The acai fruit is used for the preparation of the regional beverage, “wine of acai”, with reference to the red-purple color of the red wine made by grapes, and is consumed in large quantities throughout the Amazon. It is estimated that the daily consumption reaches 180 thousand ltr only in Belém. Due to its high nutritional value (calorific content), the “wine-of-acai” is part of the diet of the population putting it as primarily energetic food, having a superior calorific value and two times more lipids than milk .
The acai as food provides the following benefits to the human body (values for 100 g of fruit pulp):
– Carbohydrates (48 g total lipids) and Potassium (932 mg) for energy production essential;
– Proteins for the development of muscles (13,00 g);
– Fiber for the activity of intestinal functions (3,15 g);
– Anthocyanins for the control of cholesterol, which is responsible for the purple color of acai (926 mg);
– Iron for the oxygenation of blood cells (2,6 mg);
– Vitamin E (α-Tocopherol 45 mg), as an antioxidant for the prevention of cancer;
– Calcium for the strengthening of bones, prevention against osteoporosis (386 mg);
– Vitamin B1 for the flexibility of the skeleton and maintenance (0,25 mg).
The acai, Euterpe oleracea, is found throughout the Amazon basin and is particularly abundant in its eastern part. It is one of the most typical palms of the state of Pará, which dominates the landscape, sometimes in almost pure formations, preferring flooded and wetland areas with high natural regeneration. There are two main varieties, the E. oleracea, which occurs more frequently in the estuary of the Amazon River, and E. precatoria, which is common in the forests of Western Amazonia (Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Roraima) . The E. oleraceae develops multiple stems that without management can reach 20 shootings, forming what is called “cluster”. This fact undoubtedly makes this specie appropriate for the rational and permanent exploration of palm hearts and fruits. Thus, the removal of the palm heart can be made by selecting only some stems, year after year, without killing the individual as it develops new shoots. The removal of older stems corresponds to a adaptive management for this palm. On the other hand, the variety E. precatoria grows solitary without developing additional stems which inhibits the concomitant use of palm heart and fruits.
In rational managed plantations, both in native acai formations in the várzea and terra firme, 400 clusters are recommended per hectare with a planting space of 5 x 5 m between them. Estimating a production of 50 kg of fruits per cluster with 4 stems producing a production of 20 tons of fruit per hectare is possible. In the floodplain the production is 30% higher than of the terra firme. The extraction of the acai oil has with only 1% a very low performance, which corresponds 200 liters per hectare.
FUENTES, V. M. et al Photodynamic therapymediated by acai oil (Euterpe oleracea Martius) in nanoemulsion: A potential treatment for melanoma, Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology, B: Biology 166 (2017) 301–310 .
GARBOSSA, W. A, C. et al. (2017): Euterpe oleracea, Matricaria chamomilla, and Camellia sinensis aspromising ingredients for development of skin care formulations, Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology, B: Biology 166 (2017) 301–310 .