Regardless of where you live, you have probably heard of Acai (ah-sigh-ee). This berry is a superfood that can be found everywhere from boutique smoothie bowl spots and even the frozen food section of your local grocery store. But do you know what it is?
Acai is a small berry that is red and purple in color. It grows on an acai palm tree typically found in central and south America . Aside from being pretty to look at, it’s also great for your health!
While all fruits have nutritional benefits, Acai boosts many antioxidants, making it great for your body, inside and out. In fact, many cosmetic products include the berry because no matter how much it’s processed, the antioxidant levels remain strong. It also contains high amounts of Vitamin A and phenolic compounds.
Acai also has natural detoxifying contents, iron, calcium, fiber and more! It even helps combat fatigue, furthering it’s claim to be a great breakfast food .
In recent years, Acai has made a name for itself through smoothie bowls and other trendy breakfast items. It’s an excellent addition to your diet because it not only looks beautiful, but it tastes good, too. For anyone who has struggled with eating well, you know that is a rare combination.
The following is a highlighted look at the nutritional profile of 100g of pure, unsweetened Acai berry .
- Calories: 70.0
- Total Carbohydrates: 4.0g
- Sugars: 2.0g
- Vitamin A: 750 IU
- Calcium: 20.0mg
Health Benefits of Acai Berry
We’ve established that it’s beautiful and high in antioxidants, but there are more reasons to include the superfood in your diet.
1. Acai Helps Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease
The phenolic compounds in Acai helps to protect against heart disease and even cancer. In one study, researchers saw a reduction in the metabolic disease markers in overweight patients. This happened through consuming just 100 g of Acai pulp twice a day for 30 days.
2. Acai Can Provide More Energy!
Who doesn’t want more energy? Acari contains antioxidants, omega fatty acids, iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin A and anthocyanin which has been shown to aid in health. Because these things help you to break down carbs in a steady way throughout the day, you stay feeling full and energetic while avoiding that exhausted feeling. A recent study found that Acai represents one of the best sources of antioxidants you can buy!
3. Acai naturally detoxes the body.
A study by Sao Paulo State University over the span of 10 weeks used Acai berry pulp to treat a type of bladder cancer in mice. Not only did the cancer lessen, but DNA was actually repaired. While it’s important to keep in mind that mice and humans do not necessarily function the same way, it is a great sign of what the antioxidants can do in our bodies! Another study found that immense cell function was drastically increased simply by ingesting Acai.
4. It Helps Improve Your skin.
Dr. Lindsey Duncan, ND, CN says Acai helps to maintain healthy hair, skin and nails, especially in females. This is largely due to the polyphenol antioxidants Acai has that can fight free radicals and oxidative stress. The best part? It can even slow down aging!
5. It increases your blood flow.
Healthy circulation is key. When your blood is circulating well, it can help you ward off health ailments. Plus, Acai assists in regulating and establishing proper blood flow. Researchers for one study have quickly figured out that adding in just a little bit of Acai to your daily eating habits positively affected cellular function.
6. Acai helps with range of motion.
In a pilot study called “Pain Reduction and Improvement in Range of Motion after Daily Consumption of an Acai” showed that after only three months of eating Acai, the subjects who experienced conditions such as osteoarthritis experienced way less pain.
7. Acai might help you lose weight.
Amherst College’s Acai Report 2005 study showed that because of all the healthy contents of Acai, ingesting the blueberry-sized berry could aid in weight loss!
Possible Side Effects
Now that we’ve talked about how incredible Acai is, let’s touch on the possible side effects that could come with eating the berry.
Natural Standard, a research collaborative involving Harvard Medical School did a study and found few side effects. These included bloating, gas, nausea, constipation or loose stool, but all were minor and seemingly temporary.
More so, extracts and supplements of the berry could decrease blood sugar and have bad interactions with blood sugar-lowering medication. So if you’re on any medications to control blood glucose, talk to your doctor before including the berry in your diet. Lastly, it’s important to avoid eating Acai if you’re on a medically-prescribed low-potassium diet.
How to choose, pick and eat
Unless you’re in a Brazilian rainforest picking Acai off the trees, you can’t get fresh berries because they rot too quickly. However, if you’re in the US, you can get freeze-dried Acai in capsule form and the most popular form is frozen. This makes picking Acai at the grocery store super simple! No inspection necessary.
You can purchase Acai powder, capsules and frozen berries/puree at grocery and health food stores. And of course you can also buy online. Depending on what type you purchase (frozen or capsule) you can ingest the berry in different ways. If frozen, opt for smoothies or breakfast bowls.
Who can (and can’t) eat Acai?
As mentioned earlier, Acai is good for anyone unless on specific dietary restrictions or allergic to fruit. As with any fruit, enjoy in moderation to avoid excess sugar. If pregnant, check with your doctor before ingesting. While it hasn’t been shown to be dangerous, it is never wise to make assumptions when it comes to your health.
Starting off with the simple yet delicious Acai Bowl!
Makes 2 servings
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 large banana, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups frozen berries
- 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 frozen packed of acas berry puree broken into piece
- Assorted toppings such as sliced almonds, berries, shredded coconut, granola, chia seeds, sliced bananas, etc.
- Place the apple juice, banana, frozen berries, yogurt, honey and acai puree in the blender.
- Blend until thoroughly combines and smooth.
- Pour the smoothie into 2 deep bowls.
- Arrange the desired toppings over your smoothie bowls and serve.
Featured photo credit: Total Body Nourishment via totalbodynourishment.com
|||^||WebMD: Acai Berries and Acai Berry Juice — What Are the Health Benefits?|
|||^||OneGreenPlanet: 5 Reasons to Eat Açaí Every Day|
|||^||Nutrition Data: Pure Acai Beery, Unsweetened Nutrition Facts and Calories|