Ok, now I know you have heard of Açai (pronounced ahh-sigh-ee) before, especially every since Oprah talked about it. But truth be told, Acai has been around for thousands of years, it is just now starting to get the respect it deserves as a superfood. To get a quick overview of Acai watch the Superfoods 101 video below, then continue reading….
What is Acai?
So here we go. Typically when people refere to acai, they are referring to the Acai Berry. The Acai Berry is a small purple colored berry that grows on the Acai Palm. The berry itself is about one in in circumference and looks quite similar to a grape but a bit smaller and with less pulp. There are three parts to the Acai berry, the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp. The exocarp is the purple skin that covers the outside of the berry. The mesocarp is the pulpy interior of the berry and the endocarp is the hard seed on the interior of the berry.
It is this berry that is harvested for food and turned into various nutritional supplements that we will cover in depth in just a moment.
Where Does it Come From?
Açai growns only one place in the world, the Amazon Rainforest, primarily in Brazil. The berries grow on Acai Palms on branched “panicles” containing roughly 500-900 berries or “fruits.” The palms produce two harvests of fruit per year.
The Acai berry has been consumed for centuries by the people of the amazon and is looked at as a staple food source by many indigenous people. In fact a recent study actually showed that in some locals diet, it can account for upwards of 40% of total food intake by weight, all from this little berry!
So yes, the acai berry is a proven food source, but what has science proven about this little purple berry? Well, thats what were about to dive into next, so sit tight.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits of Acai?
There has been a lot of hype about Açai lately, so what true and what is just marketing? Well first off, Acai is not a wonder drug that will make you skinny, get rid of all your wrinkles and prevent cancer all over night. That just unrealistic despite what some marketers might tell you. That said Açai does have a lot of great nutritional benefits going for it, so much in fact that many people are ranking it near the top of their superfoods lists.
Protein From a Fruit?- I know it sounds a bit off, but acai by weight actually has a lot of protein which is fairly uncommon for a fruit, so eat up because plant based proteins are always beneficial and for most of us we really can’t get enough.
Amino Acids- Amino acids are really building blocks of life and more importantly the 9 essential amino acids. Acai contains 19 amino acids and all of the essential ones, so its a great source for these little guys. Proper amino acid levels and balance has been linked to good health and prevention of disease in numerous medical studies.
Healthy Fats- Not all fat is bad, as you well know. Acai is a quality source for those “essential fatty acids” such as Omega 3,6 and 9. These poly unsaturated fats can do all kinds of beneficial things like reduce inflammation and even help reduce bad cholesterol.
Phytonutrients & Plant Sterols- This is why its so important that you buy quality acai, because if its not handled properly, you will kill all the phytonutreints and plant sterols. Linked to all kinds of benefical health aspects such as healthy heart and digestion you do not want to miss out on these powerhouse nutritional aspects.
Fiber- Because much of the acai berry is actually fiber (almost 14%) this means its a great way to support healthy fiber levels in your body
Vitamins & Minerals- Probably the most famous attribute of the Acai berry is its vast vitamin and mineral profile. It is truly vast, especially for a fruit, containing many essential vitamins such as A,B’s, C, E and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and more.
Antioxidants & Polyphenols- As you know free radicals are a big part of premature aging and antioxidants round up those free radicals and eliminate them from our bodies. Acai has a very high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency capacity) which makes it high in antioxidants and great for anti-aging support. Acai also contains polyphenolic compounds which are the compounds though to be responsible for the “french Paradox” and why french people live longer and have less disease despite their seemingly unhealthy diet.
It’s no secret acai is the “hot” supplement right now. Ever since its national TV coverage and its links to specific benefits such as weight loss and anti-aging, people have been running to their stores and the internet to get their hands on this littl eberry in all its forms. So lets talk about the forms you will find this supplement in.
Powder- One of the most convenient forms of acai available. Pure Organic Acai Powder can be added to many baked goods, smoothies, jams and much more. This is a great way to add some nutrition your your existing recipes.
Capsules- Acai Capsules consist of the aforementioned powder in capsule form. The capsules typically come in gelatin or vegetarian form. Freeze dried organic acai powder is the best form to purchase, do not fall for acai extracts or cheaper variations as you will be buying an inferior product.
Juice- Acai Juice is typically a blend of acai puree with other juices or liquids. Acai juices are typically not as potent or nutritionally packed as the puree’s available, but there are some reputable brands out there.
Puree- Acai puree, when made correctly, is typically just a blended version of the acai pulp and maybe a small amount of purified water. Beware if sugar or other additives are added.
Frozen Pulp- The frozen pulp of acai berries is now often sold in grocery stores and is great for smoothies and deserts.
Beware of Acai Scams-
It is of note that there are a lot of Acai Scams out there right now. Whenever a supplement becomes a hot commodity, so come the scam artists. So here are some tips to help you avoid the scams.
- Beware of FREE Trial Offers- Acai is expensive. Its true, or at least for good acai. It comes from the Rainforest in South America. It has to be harvested and frozen within 12 hours to maintain nutritional vibrancy. There is nothing cheap about that whole process, so no one who is selling quality Acai is going to just give it away. These scammers will just charge you shipping and handling and then continue to charge your card an exorbitant amount every month for inferior acai, so beware.
- Beware of “Acai Extracts”- this is basically a code word for cheap acai. There is nothing to extract form acai, you want the whole thing, so an extract or a 4:1 extract as they are often called are more or less just cheap acai often devoid of nutrition.
- Always make sure you buy certified organic- Any fruits or vegetables grown with pesticides will be of inferior grade compared to those grown without. In addition buying organic essentially supports sustainable agriculture, which is good for all of us.
- Learn about the process of manufacturing for the product- There are several methods used to dry acai berries. They can be heat dried, spray dried or freeze dried. The first two are much cheaper, yet they both ruin the nutritional vibrancy of the product, so freeze dried is always the way to go.
- Use Common Sense- Sound to good to be true? It probably is, that’s why you should only by from companies and manufactures you trust. This is one of the main reasons we started selling supplements here at Holistik Health, because people could not find reputable sources, so we stepped in and provided those sources for them, but where ever you buy, make sure you know where it comes from
To Buy Organic Acai, visit the link. We carry only the best forms available from the most reputable manufactures, farmers and co-ops.