Acai berries grow on acai palm trees in the amazon rain forest of brazil. The Acai berry is small and looks like a purple grape. The scientific name of Acai (pronounced "ah-sigh-ee") is Euterpe Oleracea. The berry it self contains a large seed and not much pulp. It has a unique tropical fruit flavor and is very rich in nutritional benefits such as high in anti oxidants, healthy fats, fiber, and much more.
Acai Berry Fruit Nutrition Values:
The powder preparation of freeze-dried acai fruit pulp and skin (Opti-acai) was reported to contain: (per 100 g of extract)
52.2 g carbohydrates
44.2 g of fiber
8.1 g protein
32.5 g total fat
4.4 mg iron
1002 U vitamin A
the amino acid content was 7.59% of total dry weight. Source: Wikipedia
At first glance, it may seem that Acai fruit is very high in fat, which it is, but the Acai berry has an exceptional content of fats, including oleic acid, palmitic acid, and linoleic acid. These also contain a high amount of beta sitosterol (shown to reduce blood levels of cholesterol).
Acai Berry Facts
Acai has been around for thousands of years. It was first used by tribes of the Amazon jungle to cure various ailments. The Acaiberry comes from the Acai palm, which can grow up to 25 meters high. The Acai berries hang from the palm branches in clusters. Traditionally, the Acai berries were picked by hand. Each Acai tree can product about 20kg of acai fruit each year. About 90% of the Acai berry is seed, and only about 10% is edible.
It's not until recently that Acai fruit has been introduced to the western world, and has been found to possess numerous health benefits. It was discovered to be a strong anti oxidant, and also helps control cholesterol. Because of its many health benefits, Acaiberries and Acai juice has gained immense popularity as a health supplement in north america. Below we'll take a look at some of the health benefits of Acai.
Acaiberry Benefits and Uses
The juice and pulp of acai fruit is often used in juice blends, energy drinks, ice creams, sodas, and in other beverages. One traditional recipe mixes acai berry pulp with guarana seed, and is consumed as an energy drink. In northern Brazil, Acai is traditionally served in gourds called "cuisa" with tapioca. In Southern Brazil, Acai is consumed cold as Acai na tigela (acai in the bowl) - mixed with granola. It is also widely served in ice cream and juices.
There are many claimed health benefits of Acai, including:
Increase energy levels and improve stamina
Supports stronger immune system
Reduce pain and soreness
Promoted better sleep and rest
Very high in fiber and other important nutrients
High in good fats
Because Acaiberry has a high fat content, it is very perishable, and therefore it is only available outside the growing region as juice, frozen fruit, fruit pulp, or pulp powder.
Although some promotional literature would have you believe that Acaiberries are one of the most potent anti oxidants; however, study shows that Acai pulp is in the median range among a variety of juice pulps tested for anti oxidant potency. In a study titled "Tropical fruits and pulps of frozen fruits: antioxidant activity, polyphenols and anthocyanins", the researchers ranked the anti oxidant potency of various fruit pulps, and in descending order of antioxidant capacity, they listed:
While Acaiberry isn't the 'most potent' of the fruits analyzed, Acai fruit is certainly ranked quite high in terms of it anti oxidant potency. In another study of anti oxidant potency of juices, Acai juice was also ranked in the middle of the pack. This study titled "Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States" ranked various fruit juices based on their anti oxidant activity, and the ranking is as follows:
Pomegranate juice > red wine > Concord grape juice > blueberry juice > black cherry juice, Acai juice, cranberry juice > orange juice, iced tea beverages, apple juice.
As you can see from the study results, Acai berry juice was not the most potent anti oxidant as many websites claim it to be. Of course, this is not to say that Acai juice is not a good anti oxidant, but rather, be somewhat weary of some of the outrageous claims you might read about.
Because of its many health benefits, popularity, and high demand, Acai juice is more expensive compared most other fruit juices. A 32oz bottle will cost around $15 to $20, but you can get the Now Foods Acai Juice for a bit cheaper at around $13 per bottle.
2. Tropical sylvatic and of frozen fruit pulp: antioxidant activity, polyphenols and anthocyanins
Wild fruits and pulps of frozen fruits: antioxidant activity, polyphenols and anthocyanins
Marta Eugenia KUSKOSKI I, Agustín García Asuero II, Maria Teresa Morales II, III Roseane Fett
3. Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States.
Seeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, Henning SM, Feng L, Dreher M, Heber D.
Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.