“Ah-sigh-ee” — a delicious, beautiful berry that has caught all of our attention.
What exactly is it and is acai good for you? It’s important to know about your food so that you can maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Keep reading to answer your questions about acai and anything else you’d want to know.
What Is Acai?
Acai (properly spelled “açaí”) is a dark, reddish-purple berry from the acai palm tree, Euterpe oleracea.
Unlike other palm trees, this species produces small, beautiful 1-inch fruits that have a large seed on the inside. Technically, this makes the fruit a “drupe” instead of a berry, but we’ll stick with calling it a berry because that’s the popular choice.
The acai palm tree is found in the Amazon regions of Central and South America. In fact, acai juice is the most commonly consumed drink in the entire region.
Locals in the area scale the 50 to 98 feet tall palms to cut down branches at a time. They’ve been eating acai for centuries. Other cultures and countries in the past few decades have been popularizing the berries as a superfood — here’s why.
Is Acai Good for You?
The short and long answer is yes — acai is good for you. It’s rich in vitamins A, C, and E and contains a wide range of minerals, including:
These vitamins and minerals are essential to the cells in our bodies.
On top of that, a 100-gram serving only has 2 grams of sugar, which is lower than most low-sugar fruits (i.e. blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries). This is incredible, considering acai contains about 5 grams of healthy fats (it’s hard to find fruits with low sugar and high fat, for the record).
The benefits don’t end there, either. Acai berries are considered a superfood for the following reasons.
Acai Is Packed With Antioxidants
Antioxidants neutralize harmful agents known as free radicals. These free radicals, unless stopped, can cause massive damage in our cells, leading to diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Free radicals form in our bodies due to:
- Alcohol intake
- Air pollution
- Antioxidant deficiencies
- Cigarette smoke
- High blood sugar
- Infections (e.g. bacterial, fungal, or viral)
- Too much copper, iron, magnesium, or zinc
Luckily, you can ingest antioxidants to reduce their harmful effects.
In foods, antioxidants are measured using the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) measure. Blueberries, a common fruit referenced for its antioxidant-abilities, has a total score of 4,822.
Acai has an antioxidant score of 102,700. As a result, acai berries have the most antioxidants out of any fruit. This means that they can improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and ward off premature signs of aging.
Acai Has Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber improves our digestion and metabolism. Although acai has only a few grams per servings, this fiber works to decrease “bad” cholesterol.
“Bad” cholesterol is LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol that builds up in the arteries. This leads to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
So, adding acai berries to your diet is a great way to help regulate blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.
Acai Boosts Your Body’s Function
Because this superfood fights inflammation and oxidants in our bodies, it does the same in our brains. This can lead to improved cognition and memory.
The benefits don’t stop there. The vitamins found in acai, like vitamin C, help improve our immune systems, decreasing our likelihood of becoming sick. These nutrients also boost our energy and give our skin the things it needs to glow.
In fact, acai oil is often used in cosmetic products to offer hydration and moisture.
It’s easy to see why acai is the rage right now — but how do you eat it?
How Do You Eat It?
If you find yourself in the Amazon region in Central or South America, you can eat acai berries fresh. First, they have to be soaked to soften the outside. Then, they are mashed into a paste.
This paste can be eaten raw or turned into juice.
Most of us don’t live in that region, but that doesn’t mean we can’t access all the benefits of this special fruit. You can purchase pressed juice, dried powder, or a puree.
The powder tends to have the most condensed nutrients but the frozen puree has much more flavor.
Both dried powder and acai puree can be made into a smoothie bowl. If you use the powder, you’ll want to add it to your blender with your regular smoothie recipe. For using the acai puree, blend up the acai, milk or water, and add a little ice (depending on the texture you’re looking for).
Top it off with other fruits, nuts or nut butter, seeds, or coconut shavings and you have a nutritional meal that tastes like dessert.
Because acai is just one of many superfoods that offer antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients, you should try to eat them as well as some of the other ones. Consider adding these superfoods into your acai bowl for the best results:
- Dark chocolate
Experiment to find the best recipe that you like. You can always make a side salad to eat with your acai bowl to have a well-balanced meal.
Pick the Best Berries You Can Find
Clearly, the answer to “is acai good for you” is yes. Now you can choose the best berries to supplement your diet.
Be sure to find products without added sugar and get creative with your recipes.
Keep reading our blog for more food and nutritional tips.