Açaí Explained – Our Complete Guide to the Amazonian Superfruit
Purple. Tart. Delicious. Superfruit. These are just a few of the words used to describe this tiny Amazonian berry that packs a powerful nutritional punch. While it might seem unsuspecting, within this tiny fruit lies an abundance of health benefits that range from cancer prevention to heart protection. You may have seen its beautiful dark purple hues blessing your timeline in smoothie bowl photos overflowing with fruit and granola, or at your local juice bar blended with a mixture of banana, honey, and other touches of sweetness to balance its flavor. Açaí, also known as purple gold, has been on the health food scene for a while, but not everyone knows it’s backstory. Let’s explore the benefits of this nutritional powerhouse and learn some of the lesser known details of its origin.
So, What Exactly Is Açaí, and Where Does Açaí Come From?
Açaí is a berry similar in appearance to a grape that is grown on the açaí palm tree in clusters. Its seed takes up about 80% of the fruit, and the flesh and skin around it are what is consumed. The açaí palm tree is largely found along the Amazonian river basin in both Peru and Brazil, and both the fruit and the heart of the açaí palm have been incorporated into regional dishes for centuries. The açaí palm tree — similar to other native trees like the Moriche in South America — is harvested not only for its fruit, but also for its palm leaves, which are woven into intricate baskets, as well as for its wood. Whether you’re sipping a refreshing açaí juice or eating a delicious açaí bowl, you can rest easy knowing that nothing has gone to waste.
What Makes Açaí a Superfruit?
You might be wondering what sets açaí and other superfruits apart from other, let’s say more “traditional,” fruit. A superfruit is essentially fruit that is high in antioxidants and is densely packed with nutrients. You’re basically getting much more bang for your buck in smaller quantities with superfruits, which is exactly the case with açaí. One of the biggest benefits of açaí is its high amounts of antioxidants. Açaí berries blow blueberries out of the water in terms of antioxidants, packing almost four times the amount per 100g than the popular blue fruit. A scientific study also found açaí to contain the minerals chromium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Not bad!
So…What Does Açaí Do for My Health?
According to Healthline, some benefits of incorporating a delicious açaí bowl into your daily meals include improving your cholesterol levels, helping to prevent cancer, and improving brain function. One study that had overweight adults eat açaí bowls twice a day for two months found the participants’ “bad” cholesterol was lowered significantly by the end of the study. Furthermore, studies in mice and in test tubes have shown that açaí is linked to a reduction in both colon and bladder cancers. As for the brain, studies have shown that the nutritional compounds found in açaí can help prevent brain damage as you age (via Healthline). Again, the antioxidants are the star of the show here, helping to reduce oxidation and inflammation in the brain, which typically affect memory loss and the ability to learn. Again…not bad!
How Can I Consume Açaí?
A delicious açaí bowl, cocktail or juice are just three of the ways to consume this nutrient packed fruit. An açaí bowl is essentially a thickened smoothie in a bowl garnished with fresh fruit, oats, nuts, seeds, and the like, adding to its already high nutritional value. Because the shelf-life of the fruit is short, açaí typically comes in a frozen puree or a powder which can be blended easily into smoothies. Açaí juice is another delicious way to consume açaí, which is a refreshing, on-the-go, and practically effortless way to get all your nutrients in. You can even add açaí into a cocktail to have an intensified tropical addition.
What Does Açaí Taste Like?
Let’s get real, you’re probably drooling over all these delicious pictures of açaí bowls and açaí juice, but if you haven’t had it before, you might be wondering, “What does this fruit actually taste like?” Looking at the açaí berry you might assume its flavor is similar to that of a grape, cranberry, or possibly a blueberry — but not quite. The true flavor of açaí is actually quite tart with some chocolatey, earthy notes. Note that this is not the “sweet” milk chocolate taste, but the nuttier taste of cacao, as the açaí fruit itself isn’t sweet at all. Other ingredients like honey or banana are typically added to açaí bowl recipes and açaí juice to give it a sweeter, more well-rounded flavor.
What Does Açaí Smell Like?
While each nose is different, to some, açaí may smell like a mixture of ripe berries and chocolate. Quite a delicious mix, to say the least!
Where Can I Find Açaí?
Finding açaí these days can be quite easy. However, with the influx of açaí products in the market you want to be 100% sure that what you buy is high quality and free of unnecessary ingredients and added sugars. You also want to make sure that the company you buy from is committed to sustainability and has values you can get behind. When making your smoothie or bowl, you want to be sure you’re mixing with high quality ingredients too so the whole recipe is packed with goodness!
Where can I Buy Açaí Juice?
AMAYU superfruit juices make an excellent add on to açaí bowls, and as an added bonus, the company is committed to protecting bio-diversity, preventing deforestation, and empowering indigenous people. In a nutshell, they’re committed to making sure that your delicious açaí bowl (and the people that help get it to you!) live to see a long future. AMAYU has chosen to specifically highlight the buriti superfruit in its juices, which is a great juice to add to an açaí bowl. The buriti fruit is grown in Peru (like açaí) in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, and the company works directly with indigenous communities in the reserve who have been protecting the fruit for centuries.