Acai berries come from açaí palm trees which belong to the genus Euterpe, and is from the species Euterpe oleracea. Acai palms generally grow to a height of about eighty feet and have branches about 8 feet long that are full of pinnate leaves. As the acai berry has gained in popularity so has the cultivation of fruits of the tree. Acai berries are small purplish berries that look very similar to grapes. These berries are grown on stems that generally contain about 800 berries each. The trees produce two crops each year. The berries have a seed in the middle of the fruit surrounded by a pulpy flesh.
For many natives of brazil the acai berry makes up a large portion of their diet. It is an integral component of smoothies, juices, and sodas in the region. Additionally açaí can be served in cuias which are a type of gourd. When they make the drink it can be made as sweet as one’s taste prefer. Others in brazil like to eat ice cream that has the flavor of the acai.
The acai berry is also the latest rage in health trends. There are numerous companies touting the benefits of consuming acai containing products. In the US it can be found in juices, smoothies, drinks, powders, tablets, capsules, and even whole fruits. It is marketed under claims that it will improve digestion, energy levels, improve sleep, and reduce cholesterol levels. Additionally it is claimed that the high antioxidant levels will improve ones health, sexual virility, and skin appearance. One of the most common areas where the açaí berry is marketed is for weight loss. The famos Dr. Mehmet Oz who is a regular on the Oprah Winfrey show, has made claims that the acai berry should be used for weight loss.
While studies and research have shown that consuming acai juice will increase blood antioxidant capacity, it is important to note that grape juice and pomegranate juice will do the same thing. Many have compared the acai berry juices sold as having a flavor that tastes like a mix of wild berries and chocolate. Acai pulp has monounsaturated fats that are similar to olive oil. The monounsaturated oleic acid has several benefits including keeping insulin receptors function as efficiently as possible. The berries contain anthocyanins as well as flavonoids. Anthocyanins are strong antioxidants, and are responsible for the purplish color of many fruits. Antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease, as they neutralize harmful free radicals. While it is possible some people may have an allergy to the fruit, most people find the fruit very easy to eat and enjoy.
If you do decide to consume acai berries for health benefits keep in mind the following advice. Make sure that you are receiving a product that is pure. Many times the supplier will try to dilute the product to save money. The fresher the berry the better it is for you. If you are buying a berry that was harvested in the amazon rainforest make sure that it was sealed shortly after harvest. One of the more popular brands that sell acai berry juice is MonaVie. They had several celebrities endorse the product and thus gained popularity. They rate their product by using a scale called the oxygen radical absorbance capacity, otherwise known as ORAC.