For the last couple of weeks we have been blogging about our South American fruit pulps. First we had Acerola, then last week we did a post on Graviola or soursop. But we've left the best until last! We finally get to Acai, which is a truly amazing fruit from the depths of the Brazilian Amazon.
Acai is the Amazon's gift to the world. Once you've discovered how good it can be, you'll see why Acai is Brazil's favourite fruit. Acai helps to fuel Brazil's Carnival atmosphere - Everybody from Footballers to Martial Artists, from Surfers to Volleyball players get their energy and passion from Acai.
We use pure Acai pulp, blended with apple juice in our Acai Superberry and mixed with other fruits in the Mixed Fruit Mix Smoothie, also known as 'Jungle Juice'.
What is the Acai berry?
The Acai berry is an inch-long, reddish-purple fruit. It comes from the Acai palm tree, which is native to Central and South America.
Some studies show that Acai fruit pulp is even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries.
Great for your health, great for the environment!
People describe the taste of Acai as a mix of chocolate and blueberries... but here's the best bit: It's really good for you! Acai has been shown in laboratory analysis to have higher antioxidant levels than Blueberries, Pomegranates or red wine. In addition, it is unique among fruit in that it contains healthy omega oils (6 & 9).
What's more eating Acai benefits the environment and the people of the Amazon. Greenpeace have listed Acai as one of the most important non-timber forest products from the Amazon. By helping provide an income, the indigenous people have an ability to sustain themselves and the rainforest.
Grades of Acai
The actual fruit is about the size of a large blueberry, but mostly consists of a large inedible seed. The edible part is the outer skin and a thin layer of fruit. Soon after the Acai berries are harvested, they are usually mashed to make a pulp. In parts of Brazil, where Acai trees grow, they have this fresh on the day it was picked. In fact, until very recently (1990's), it was only available in the Amazon area. Now frozen Acai pulp can be eaten all over the world - as fresh as you would find in the best juice bars of Rio. By freezing Acai, all of the goodness is locked in - as fresh as the day it was picked.
Acai deteriorates rapidly after harvest, so it must be frozen on the same day it was picked. We ensure that all of our Acai is sourced from a supplier who picks, pulps and freezes on the same day, so you can be guaranteed the same freshness as you would get in the Amazon itself!
In Brazil, the ministry of agriculture have laid down standards for Acai pulp. There are 3 established grades. The grade determines how much water has been added to make the pulp. The top grade with the most fruit is known as Especial, the others are known as Medio and Popular. It is Brazilian law that the grade is printed on the pack. If you want the best, make sure it says Especial.
At Barannes we only use Acai Especial so you can be sure you are getting the best.
Read the label!
There are many acai smoothies on the market. Most supermarkets in the UK are selling smoothies / drinks containing a small amount of acai. While some of these taste good, a quick scan of their ingredients reveal that they contain a miniscule amount of acai pulp. Many of these make big bold claims about how good acai is, but the drink can contain as little as 2% acai pulp!!!
Some of the more notable acai drinks on the market are Innocent's "superfood" smoothie, which tastes great - but again only contains a small amount of acai.
Our Acai Superberry contains a full 100g pack of pure Acai Especial ensuring you are getting only the best.
Health benefits of Acai
Let’s take a look at twelve health benefits of acai berries. (Source: Global Healing Centre)
1. Promotes Heart Health
Similar to red wine, research shows that acai berries are extremely high in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that supports balanced cholesterol levels. They are also rich in plant sterols that provide cardio-protective benefits, including supporting circulation, improving overall blood composition, and relaxing the blood vessels.
2. Resists Harmful Organisms
Research has shown that consuming acai extract may help fight harmful organisms, but this has not been proven.
3. Aids Weight Loss
Known by nutritionists as a superfood, acai may help us not only lose weight but maintain a healthy weight. One interesting study found that pulp from the acai berry had the ability to reduce fat deposits in study participants.
4. Promotes Skin Health
Acai oil is a great natural alternative to chemical based skin care products. Currently, many beauty products contain acai oil because of the oil’s high antioxidant content. When eaten, the berries provide nutrition that can give your skin a healthy glow. In fact, Brazilians have been eating acai berries for centuries to promote skin health.
5. Helps Digestion
Acai may also aid in keeping the digestive system clean and functional. In the human body, the berries have powerful detoxification capacities and are a source of dietary fibre. Of course, there are many other high fibre foods that can do the same thing, including other types of berries.
6. Reduces Irritation
Acai berries contain properties that may prevent the irritation in the lungs typically associated with respiratory distress and swelling.
7. Improves Cellular Health
On a general level, the anthocyanins found in acai play a role in the body’s cellular protection system, helping to keep cells strong against the invasion of free radicals.
8. Immune System Booster
One study found that polyphenolic compounds extracted from acai reduced the proliferation of malfunctioning cells by up to 86%. It is thought that acai berry contains phytochemicals that can disrupt cell mutation at a molecular level, killing the affected cells before they multiply. Acai berries are not a cure for any disease but, hopefully, more research will yield more positive discoveries.
9. Has Anti-Aging Effects
Extremely high in many forms of phytochemicals, acai berries may slow or reverse aging processes as they relate to oxidative damage. In fact, the berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants; one berry has ten times as many antioxidants as grapes and twice as many as blueberries.
10. Boosts Energy
Due to its overall health benefits, taking acai extract can lead to an increased overall level of energy and stamina, and may aid to combat fatigue and exhaustion. Whenever you need a boost, simply eat a handful of berries and you will be ready to go in no time!
11. Encourages a Healthy Libido
This famous purple berry is linked to overall increased blood circulation in the human body, a phenomenon that may contribute to a boost in sex drive, especially for men.
12. Improves Mental Function
Preliminary research studies show that acai may improve cognition and promote healthy brain aging.
As with all similar claims, please conduct your own research. The source of the article provides references to all claims. The views and nutritional advice expressed in this article are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medicine. If you have a medical condition or health concern, see your doctor, before taking any health supplement.