Can an antioxidant-rich juice containing freeze-dried Acai and its pulp and 18 other fruits and berries really inhibit lipid peroxidation and protect cells from free radical damage during oxidative stress in humans? That is one of several questions answered in a study that appeared today in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (JAFC), a leader among journals in the fields of applied chemistry, nutrition and agriculture.
Co-authored by AIBMR’s Senior Director of Natural and Medicinal Products Research, Alexander G. Schauss, PhD, FACN, and Chief Scientific Officer, John R. Endres, N.D., the research team lead by Dana Honzel and colleagues in the United States and Canada, found that indeed there is such a juice. Called “Monavie”, this fruit and berry juice, whose ingredients are dominated by a palm fruit found growing only in the Amazon, known as “Acai” (Euterpe oleracea Mart.), demonstrated significant antioxidant protection in healthy adults placed under oxidative stress, both in a pilot study and later in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.
Unsure of whether any fruit/berry juice could protect cells exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS) under experimental conditions, Honzel and colleagues first tested whether the acai in Monavie could protect human erythrocytes and polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells. The procedure utilized a new cell-based antioxidant protection model using erythrocytes (CAP-e) and PMN cells, called the CAP-e and ROS PMN assays. Not only did the Acai in Monavie provide strong inhibition of ROS, indicating potent anti-inflammatory properties, it also showed significant immune supportive properties, confirming earlier studies led by Schauss and colleagues published in the same journal in 2006.(1,2)
The sequential use of these assays provided the bridge from analytical to biological testing needed prior to starting clinical trials. Based on the value of using these assays in sequence to test natural products both in vitro and in vivo, the laboratory that fostered the development of these assays, NIS Labs, was selected as the winner of the annual Virgo Scientific Excellence Award.
The randomized trial, led by Gitte Jensen, PhD, and colleagues in the USA and Canada, demonstrated that when subjects, 19 to 52 years of age, consumed 4 ounces of Monavie, 91% of them showed a significant inhibition of lipid peroxidation in their serum within two hours even when in a state of oxidative stress compared to no evidence of inhibition when consuming a placebo subjects believed was also an antioxidant.
“It was an elegant research design that allowed us to see if Monavie juice could really demonstrate any benefits,” commented Alex Schauss. “We were surprised by the strength of the data whether we examined the data between subjects or in the same subject, as subjects didn’t know what product would do what from week to week. That it worked so fast – by the first hour for the vast majority – was impressive in itself. This confirmed earlier studies we published with other co-authors including researchers at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine, who showed that the freeze-dried acai (added to Monavie) acted as both a fast- and slow-antioxidant.”
Based on the findings reported in both papers (appearing in the same issue of the journal), AIBMR scientists believe there is more to protecting human cells from free radical damage than just its ORAC, TEAC, FRAP or DHHP scores or percentages. “We have some theories as to why Monavie juice protects human cells as strongly as it does. One thing is certain, boosting the ORAC value of a juice is not the path we would take as it disregards other factors that contribute to health, such as compounds we have identified in this juice not found in other juices to date that affect cell signaling”, said Alex Schauss.
1. Jensen GS, Patterson KM, Barnes J, Certer SG, Wu, W, Scherwitz L, Beaman R, Endres JR, Schauss AG. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity of an antioxidant-rich fruit and berry juice blend. Results of a pilot and randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008; 56(18): 8326-8333. PDF
2. Honzel D, Carter SG, Redman KA, Schauss AG, Endres J, and Jensen GS. Comparison of chemical and cell-based antioxidant methods for evaluation of foods and natural products: Generating multifaceted data by parallel testing using erythrocytes and polymorphonuclear cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008; 56(18): 8319-8325. PDF
3. Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL, Ou B, Huang D, Owens J, Agarwal A, Jensen GS, Hart AN and Shanbrom E. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Acai). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2006; 54(22): 8604-8610. Click here to read abstract.
4. Schauss AG, Wu, X, Prior RL, Ou B, Patel D, Huang D and Kababick JP. Phytochemical and nutrient composition of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Acai). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2006; 54(22): 8598-8603. Click here to read abstract.