Demystifying the Açaí Berry

The açaí berry has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. You may have heard it talked about as a super food on different TV shows and online. The açaí berry is marketed as this magical food with promises to save you from ailments. As a non domestic berry, it’s often not sold in your favorite local grocery store. So how do you get a hold of it and what does it do exactly? Why is it hailed as a miracle berry? Lets find out! 

What is acai? 

Açaí berries are fruit from acai palms, grown mostly in South America, with Brazil being where the trees are most popular. In fact, in Brazil’s Amazonian riverside urban centers, açaí is smashed into a pulp and combined with cassava flour to create a cheap food staple for those communities.  The fruit is typically red or purplish in color.  

Why is it so popular? 

The fruit grew to prominence in the US because of claims that eating it would promote weight loss. This was then debunked in the late 2000s. However by that time, the açaí berry had entered our consciousness as a superfood. Even though it lacks the weight loss abilities it was touted as having, it still has some wonderful properties, including being high in antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. Açaí does not contain more antioxidants than other berries necessarily; blueberries, another superfood, has similar health qualities and possibly even more antioxidants than açaí berries. Research on açaí berries is still limited, but early studies suggest that it’s health content matches those of other similar berries. 

I want to add açaí to my diet. How do I do that? 

Açaí comes in many forms when sold in stores. You can find it in tablet form, as a raw fruit, as a pulp, or a juice. The tablet may be the easiest form of consumption. Açaí in pulp form resembles yogurt. A popular treat in Brazil at healthy restaurants includes açaí bowls with fruit toppings and guarana powder. It’s similar to a yogurt bowl or parfait except the base isn’t dairy. This can be a good alternative if you have a lactose intolerance. Açaí can also be used as a juice to be added to smoothies. All of these options are satisfying ways to try açaí berries and integrate them into your diet. You can find açaí at most health-conscious  food or vitamin stores. Check with your local grocery. It’s also available from my retailers online as well.  

Should you add açaí to your diet?  

Honestly, it depends. Açaí berries have some great health benefits, but these benefits aren’t unique to açaí and similar levels of antioxidants can be found in blueberries and cranberries. With its combined fiber and healthy fat status, there’s a lot to be desired. Plus it’s a very delicious fruit that is versatile. If you don’t eat berries but want to start adding them to your diet, then definitely consider the açaí. You can eat it in pump form and enjoy it was an array of toppings. This can be a great way to get the nutrients of that particular berry and even other berries as well if you aren’t too keen on eating berries. If you already eat berries and foods rich in antioxidants, then adding açaí berries to your diet can’t hurt. Just remember, blueberries, cranberries and other berries are a great alternative to açaí if you can’t find them or they’re too expensive. 

Açaí berries are a good supplement to add to your regular diet. While they aren’t the ultimate superfood, the açaí berry does offer nutrients in multiple forms that are delicious and easy to consume. If you pick up eating açaí berries, don’t stop eating cranberries, blueberries, and other berries that are part of your regular diet. The açaí berry isn’t a replacement for other foods, but when combined with other berries and other foods with strong antioxidants, your body is one step closer to having a strong system capable of regenerating itself and remaining healthy.  

 

*This is not medical advice. Please consult with your dietician, doctor, or allergist when adding new foods to your diet.

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Micah Peterson

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