So, What’s So Good About Acai? A Whole Lot.

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So, What's So Good About Acai? A Whole Lot.

By Lindsey Duncan, ND, CN

Guarana, graviola and cat’s claw. In my last blog, I covered these three superfoods, which are extremely potent and boast an array of amazing medicinal properties. This next rainforest remedy happens to be one of my most favorite superfoods of all time, also hailing from the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil – the acai berry.

So, what is acai? The acai tree is actually a type of palm tree that is native to the Amazon rainforest region. It grows over 15 meters in height and produces small, dark purple berries. Brazilian natives discovered the healing properties of the acai berry thousands of years ago, as they found it boosted their energy when consumed regularly. Because of its extraordinarily high nutritional value, indigenous tribes also used acai to treat various ailments and support a quick recovery. It has been said to have sustained natives of the Amazon during times of famine.

In Brazil, they have nicknamed this superfruit the “Beauty Berry” because it has so many compounds that make the body both feel and look better from the inside out. Its combination of antioxidants, amino acids and omega fatty acids all help slow the aging process by boosting immune and metabolic function and removing destructive free radicals from our bodies.

Acai has all the vitamins and minerals of most fruits, but also boasts a range of unique plant chemical compounds found in no other fruit on the planet. As a matter of fact, recent studies by Dr. Stephen Talcott conducted at the University of Florida show that there are 50-75 active natural compounds in acai that have yet to be identified.

Among acai’s many antioxidants is one particular powerhouse called anthocyanin, which is suspected to be the driving force behind acai’s free-radical and age-fighting powers. It’s common in fruits with rich red and purple colors, like grapes and berries, but acai has far more than any other food. Acai’s ORAC level (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is over 3,500, which is hundreds of times higher than your average fruits like apples and bananas.

Also, it might surprise you that the little acai berry packs more grams of protein than an egg, and when combined with its host of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, acai has been shown to improve the look and texture of your hair, skin and nails.

Today, the most common form of acai is the juice, which Amazon inhabitants make by macerating the ripe berry, skin and all. If you travel to Brazil, you can enjoy a bowl of frozen acai, blended and topped with pieces of banana and granola. Acai is also sold by vendors on beaches and served like ice cream, frozen and eaten with a spoon, which has powered Brazilian surfers for years.

If you want to incorporate acai into your daily diet, you’re lucky, because acai is the most readily available of any of my favorite rainforest remedies in the US, but you have to be mindful of what type of acai products you’re buying. Many acai-based juices have added sugar and very little pure acai, so as usual, I suggest reading the label. 

You can find the freshest juices in the refrigerated sections of your grocery store, generally next to the orange juice. The first ingredient on the bottle should be acai, and while acai is loaded with nutrients, I also recommend that you look for the kind that is fortified with extra vitamins and minerals like 1,000% of the daily value of vitamin B12.  Once you find this juice, switch it out for your daily glass of orange juice. After one week of nourishing your body with the Amazon’s most potent super berry, you’re likely to feel more energy than you have in years!

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