What is acai?
Acai (correctly spelled Açaí, pronounced Assa-i) are the fruits of the South American Euterpe oleracea, the cabbage palm. An acai berry is therefore a stone fruit that has been used as a foodstuff for centuries in its natural distribution areas. The blue-black fruit, which is about one to two centimetres in size, grows in the crown of the cabbage palm, which can be up to 25 metres high.
The acai palm is native to the Amazon region. There it grows mainly in tidally influenced brackish water swamps and floodplains. The main agricultural occurrences are in Brazil, in the regions of Amapá and Pará. An acai berry consists of about 90 percent of the kernel, only the fleshy skin is processed and eaten. The taste is also not to everyone's liking, descriptions range from fruity-chocolatey to bitterly astringent.
Acai berries: an antioxidant-rich & nutrient-dense superfruit
If there’s one thing acai berries are known, it’s their high antioxidant content. They have an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score of 15,405 or 3 times the amount found in blueberries.
Acai berries are especially rich in one type of antioxidant known as anthocyanins, which gives the berries their dark purple color. (Anthocyanins aren’t just reserved for acai berries, but all purple, blue and red fruits, and vegetables.)
Research has shown this flavonoid “may play a significant role in preventing lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular and neurological diseases.”
In addition to being rich in antioxidants, especially the all-important beauty vitamins A, C, and E, acai berries are also nutrient-dense. They’re high in fat — but don’t worry, it's good fat! I’m talking about omega-3s, 6s, and 9s. On the flip side, acai berries are relatively low in sugar.
Acai berry powder
In Europe, fresh acai is not available, frozen berries only very rarely. Sometimes frozen fruit puree is available, but mostly the dark blue fruits are sold in powder form. Why? Well, harvesting is manual work, and the fruits are very sensitive and have little storage life. To pick the berries, plantation workers climb up the smooth trunks of the palm tree with foot slings, as the acai grow all the way to the top. They are collected early in the morning in a basket that holds about 14 kilograms. By noon, the berries are already sold on the market or processed into acai juice or puree in a factory. Anything that is not sold by the evening has to be thrown away, otherwise the berries go mouldy or rot. The fruits would not survive a transport to Europe by ship lasting several days.
The acai powder found in Your Super Forever Beautiful and Energy Bomb comes from Brazil where it is grown and harvested on an organic, independet farm, making sure you get the highest quality berries. You cannot only use the mixes in acai bowls but also mix them into smoothies, yoghurt, porridge and yes even water. Just try it out and find your favourite acai recipe!
How to make an acai bowl from acai powder
The Acai Bowl is said to be the beauty secret of Brazilian women. In the original version, acai fruit puree is mixed with guarana and sliced bananas. This mixture is supposed to boost the metabolism and prevent wrinkles. With stars and starlets promoting it all over instagram, it by now has made its way to local cafés and health food stores. For good reason: Acai Bowls look like ice cream, almost taste like ice cream – but with health benefits. And it's super easy to whip up. We love this Acai Bowl with the Forever Beautiful Mix and lots of toppings of course, to change it up. A healthy punch of antioxidants and vitamins!
Top 4 acai berry health benefits
1. Acai berries are good for your skin
There’s a reason why acai berries are known as the Brazilian beauty berry! As I mentioned earlier, acai berries are loaded with antioxidants, as well as the beauty vitamins A, C and E, which are important for skin health.
Remember the anthocyanins? The flavonoid that gives these berries their purple hue? They’re particularly “potent scavengers” of free radicals. Free radicals not only destroy cells, but accelerate skin ageing. Dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines are all linked to free radical damage.
Acai’s vitamin C content also contributes to your natural collagen production. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and it gives skin its structure, suppleness, and stretch. The older we get, the less collagen our skin produces, which explains why we’re so prone to wrinkle.
And then there’s vitamin E. This antioxidant protects against sun damage by absorbing harmful UV rays.
2. Acai berries may have anti-cancer properties
While more research is needed, there are signs that acai berries may protect against or even fight cancer.The anthocyanins in the fruit have already been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. And in animal studies, acai pulp reduced both colon and bladder cancer.
As far as humans are concerned, a 2006 study saw some promising results when researchers dripped concentrated acai juice on leukaemia cells and 86% of the cancer cells started to self-destruct.
3. Acai berries are good for your brain
Want to protect your brain from cognitive decline? Acai berries may help! In one 2013 study published in “Neuroscience Letters,” acai berry extract was found to be protective against the build-up of beta-amyloid, which contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain also stays healthy by performing a process known as autophagy, and acai berries have been shown to encourage or enhance this internal housekeeping act. Not only does this allow the formation of new nerves, it also enhances the communication between brain cells.
4. Acai berries are good for your heart
Acai is a heart-healthy food. One study showed this Brazilian berry, specifically in the form of acai smoothies, can improve cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol, otherwise known as bad cholesterol.
As this article has mentioned multiple times, the antioxidants in acai berries also play a role in protecting the heart.