Acai is a dark purple berry from the Amazon Rain Forest, and grows on a palm tree. Local tribes believe the berries have phenomenal healing powers, and even modern scientists attest to its antioxidant value, which is a 50:1 ratio when compared to a mango
, 10:1 ratio when compared to a cranberry
, and 2-3 times that of a blueberry
. Acai is commonly pronounced a-sigh-ee
As rice is to China, acai is to Caboclo
“A study of three traditional Caboclo populations in the Amazon region of Brazil, açaí palm was described as the most important plant species because the fruit makes up such a major component of diet (up to 42% of the total food intake by weight) and is economically valuable in the region.” (Wiki) The grape like fruit is produced in panicles of 700 to 900 fruits, yielding two crops of fruit annually. It has a single large seed about 7-10 mm in diameter, while the drupe itself is about 25 mm in diameter.
Acai is popular to more than just an Amazon dweller. “Açaí has become popular in southern Brazil where it is consumed cold as açaí na tigela ("açaí in the bowl"), mostly mixed with granola - a fad where açai is considered as an energizer. Açaí is also widely consumed in Brazil as an ice cream flavor or juice.” (Wiki)
Acai may save the rainforest
Amazon populations will be generating new income from the increased popularity in the past decade. Additionally, rain forest conservation has been on the rise to protect important acai growing areas. (Acai is only found the Amazon rain forest) “SAMBA's raw material is currently supplied by 668 family fruit collectors organized into four worker-owned cooperatives inside the Varzea Flooded Forest Region in the northern Brazilian state of Para. The biological richness of this eco-region has drawn priority conservation action from the Brazilian government and some of the world's premier conservation NGO's inlcluding World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and Greenpeace.”
One website, www.acai.vg, has an extensive list for chief health benefits. Boosts energy levels, Improves digestive function, Improves mental clarity/focus, Promotes sound sleep, Provides all vital vitamins, Contains several important minerals, Is an extremely powerful free radical fighter, Acai has very high levels of fibers, Cleanses and Detoxifies the body of infectious toxins, Strengthens your immune system , Enhances sexual desire and performance, Fights cancerous cells, Slows down the aging process, Promotes healthier and younger-looking skin, Alleviates diabetes, Normalizes and regulates cholesterol levels, Helps maintain healthy heart function, Minimizes inflammation, Improves circulation, Prevents artherosclerosis, and Enhances visual acuity.
Gulp acai down as part of a drink
Acai decomposes swiftly, and is difficult to find outside regions close to where it is grown. Because of this it is often produced into powder, extracts, or concentrates for drinks, both soda and nutritional. “The juice and pulp of açaí fruits (Euterpe oleracea) are frequently used in various juice blends, smoothies, sodas, and other beverages.” (Wiki) The extract of acai has the highest concentration of antioxidant, and is preferable when looking at nutritional drinks.
You can also find acai berries in the US at Whole Foods and Wild Oats stores.