The acai (ah-sigh-ee) berry became a healthy food trend in the western world fairly recently, but its benefits have been enjoyed by natives of the Amazon Rainforest for thousands of years. Read on to find out what the benefits of this wildly popular fruit are, and how you can enjoy it!
History of the Acai Berry
Long before there were scientists to evaluate and define the advantageous components of the fruit, South Americans were climbing high palm trees to harvest clusters of acai berries, not only for food, but also for use in healing ailments and illnesses. Today, the acai fruit is grown and shipped en masse, mainly from Brazil.
The measurable health benefits of the acai berry began to come to light as early as the 1950's but it wasn't practical to ship as the nutritional value depletes after 24 hours. Beginning in the last decade, shipping frozen acai berry products became feasible, and its popularity has grown by leaps and bounds.
Acai Berry Nutrition
One of the components that make acai berries so coveted by the health-conscious people is their level of antioxidants, which help to slow premature aging. The actual quantity of antioxidants contained in acai berries is hotly debated, but most agree it is at least comparable to the amount in blueberries. Additionally, the fruit boasts proteins, healthy fats, phytosterols, and dietary fiber to do the body good!
Acai Berry Recipes
Acai berries are small, round, and dark bluish-purple in color. They somewhat resemble grapes, but contain less pulp, and have a large seed inside. The taste of an acai berry has been described as a blend of berry and chocolate. In terms of recipes, it is important to note that heating will deplete the nutritional value of the fruit, therefore, it is generally consumed as a juice, or the pureed seed is used since it can be frozen. Acai products are generally found in health food stores. The people of Rio de Janeiro eat acai berries for breakfast in a traditional bowl meal. Here is one version of this delicious recipe:
(Prep time: 2 -3 minutes)
8 oz (1 cup) frozen acai pulp
2 oz apple juice
2 oz strawberry juice
½ cup granola
Strawberry and banana slices for topping/garnish
1. Blend acai, ½ a banana and juice until smooth. Mixture will be thick, but if it is too thick to pour, add a little more apple juice to thin out.
2. Pour into bowl.
3. Add granola to top of acai mixture.
4. Top with sliced bananas and strawberries.
5. Enjoy this naturally sweet and healthy breakfast.
Recipe courtesy of Bakespace.com
Another popular recipe, this one using acai berry juice, is the smoothie. Of course, there are numerous variations, but here is a very good recipe you might like to try:
Acai Berry Smoothie
(Prep time: 3-4 minutes)
1 1/4 cup plain or vanilla soymilk, or almond milk
3/4 cup Orange juice
3/4 cup Acai juice
1 large Mango, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until deliciously smooth. Enjoy!