Acai (ah-si-ee) berry fruit is native to South America, Belize, Brazil, and Peru. These little earthy flavored berries are packed with nutrition. You may be curious about how healthy they are for you. And, you’ll be fascinated to learn the emerging science that explains what happens to your body if you incorporate acai into your daily diet.
What Are Acai Berries?
Grown on the acai palm, acai berry fruit is around an inch in size and purplish-red berries. Some say the acai berry fruit tastes something like a mix between a blackberry and unsweetened, dark chocolate. After harvesting the fruit, it’s soaked in water to tenderize the fruit’s outer skin. Then it’s smashed into a purple-colored paste and freeze-dried into made into powder. Some acai fruit is frozen and sold as pulp.
You can buy acai powder to mix into your smoothies or with other fruit. Be sure to purchase organic acai powder to ensure the best quality. You can also purchase acai berry puree to mix with water or milk to create a smoothie base that you add other fruits.
10 Reasons to Try Acai Supplementation
Researchers are still learning all the benefits of the acai fruit, but here is a list of 10 possible health benefits of eating acai berry fruit.
High in vitamins and minerals
Grown in the Amazon region, the acai fruit clusters are green until they ripen into a deep purple color. The pulp has a sticky consistency that can be made into jellies, syrup, liquors, ice cream, and energy drinks. It’s dark purple color makes it a natural dye, so it’s used as a natural food color.
Acai fruit is packed with vitamins C, A, and E. It also contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, and polyphenols. Polyphenols have many health benefits, including better digestive health.
Could help you lose weight
Eating acai fruit pulp, one study found, could reduce your chances of a metabolic disease risk if you’re overweight. A metabolic disease happens when your body has an abnormal amount of chemical reactions affecting your liver and pancreas. These organs aid your digestion. But if your liver or pancreas are in distress due to the chemical reactions, they won’t function properly, giving you an increased chance of diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Plus, if your body isn’t metabolizing properly, it inhibits your ability to lose weight. Researchers say they need to do more studies to understand the complete benefits of acai fruit on metabolic disease and weight loss.
May lower your cholesterol.
An early study found the acai fruit could lower cholesterol. In this study, the participants ate the same amount of acai for 30 days. After 30 days, the researchers found there was a reduction in the participant’s cholesterol as well as a reduction in their LDL cholesterol compared to their total cholesterol. This is encouraging since acai fruit could be a natural way for people to reduce their cholesterol, so they don’t need to take medications. Further studies are needed to confirm the full benefits of eating acai fruit, reducing cholesterol, but hopefully in there will be good news in the future for those who suffer from high cholesterol.
May improve heart health.
Studies found there could be significant benefits to eating acai fruit because of its high vitamin C levels, flavonoids, and polyphenols that have been found to protect you again from heart disease. Studies are still in the works to understand the full benefits of acai fruit to prevent heart disease.
One of the difficulties with studying and eating acai fruit is that it’s not native to the United States. There is no way to gauge the growing or processing to be sure there are no pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Plus, some people suggest the way the fruit is processed could hamper its full health potential.
Acai fruit has antioxidants that enhance your cell’s growth. They also slow down certain chemical reactions during oxidation that break up the free radicals that can harm your cells. Antioxidants prevent the narrowing of the arteries and lower the levels of cholesterol in your body. Antioxidants may also limit your chances of specific types of cancer.
Improve muscle damage due to exercise
One study done on junior athletes found helpful benefits for relieving muscle fatigue. The participants drank the acai berry fruit juice mix for six weeks. After six weeks, the researchers found some modest improvements in lowering muscle damage due to exercise. Although the improvement was minimal, the study was the first of further studies to better understand the ways acai may be used in the future to help athletes.
High in fiber
The grape-like acai fruit is also having a decent amount of fiber. Drinking acai fruit pulp is especially good because that’s how you get most of the fiber. A high-fiber diet has many health benefits, including
- Keeps you regular. Fiber helps your intestines function properly and regularly. It helps elevate constipation or diarrhea, giving you a normal looking stool.
- Lowering your chances of getting hemorrhoids.
- Lowering your cholesterol.
- Helping you control your blood sugar-People who have diabetes need fiber to help slow down the absorption of sugar.
- It can help you lose weight or control your weight. When you eat high fiber, you feel satiated, so you don’t eat as much.
- Eating high fiber can help you live longer.
You can combine acai fruit pulp with other berries to make a super nutritious drink or smoothie packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Acai Berry Recipes
Acai powder is versatile, so you use it in all types of recipes. Here are two for you to try.
Acai berry smoothie
- Acai powder three tablespoons
- 1-2 bananas, smashed and frozen
- ⅓ cup of frozen strawberries
- ⅓ cup of frozen blueberries or blackberries
- One teaspoon flax seed
- ½ cup of almond milk, use more if you want
- ½ cold water
Blend powder, fruit, flaxseed, and milk together. You can change up the berries or add other seeds like chia or hemp for different flavors.
Acai & blueberry muffins
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line your muffin tin with liners.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup butter
- One teaspoon vanilla
- One teaspoon acai powder
- 1/3 honey
- 1/2 cup blueberries or blackberries
- Fold together ingredients. Pour some muffin mixture into each lined cup.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the muffin pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Remove each muffin from its cup and set on a tray to cool for another 10 minutes.
Warnings About Acai Supplements
If you’re eating large amounts of acai fruit in smoothies or foods, be sure to mention this to your doctor. It can affect your other meds. The acai fruit does alter MRI test results, so inform your doctor. They can suggest how long prior to the test. You should stop eating these products.
Also, acai may not be safe if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. So far, there haven’t been enough scientific studies to verify that acai is safe in these circumstances. Some early studies indicate it’s relatively safe, but it’s important to wait till there are more extensive studies.
Beware of any foods touted as superfoods. Many of these claims don’t have a proper scientific basis. Right now, some people make internet claims that this berry heals every disease known to man. That would be nice if this were true, but as of today, the studies just don’t prove all the claims.
Researchers are especially careful when it comes to imported foods due to their limited knowledge of growing processes and ability to control how the fruit was harvested or processed. Other countries don’t have the same safety standards as the United States regarding pesticides and other chemicals.
If you choose to eat acai powder or frozen acai pulp in your recipes, be careful about which brands you choose. Buy only organic acai products from reputable companies. If possible, get information on how the fruit was processed.
You want to eat the healthiest you can, so enjoy the unique flavor of acai fruit in your favorite recipes.