Açaí, the not so New Superfood

The Acai (ah-sigh-ee) berry has been around for thousands of years in its native lands of the Amazon jungle. It has only been until recently that the rest o the world has recognized the berry’s health properties.

The Acai berry’s legend spans back to Amazon villages on the edge of the Para’ river. As villages grew, food became scarce. The tribal leader Itaki told the people they could not have any more children or they would have to be sacrificed. At the time, the daughter of the leader, Iaca’, was pregnant. The leader was excited and abhorred with the news. During the pregnancy, Iaca’ prayed to Tupa’ that a food would be shown to their village. The child was born and as declared, the tribal leader had to sacrifice the baby. The daughter, devastated, wondered throughout the forest crying. While in the forest, she saw her child’s ghost in the form of a slender palm tree. Within this tree a new fruit was discovered and the Itaki called the fruit Acai (Iaca’ inverted).

The Acai berry is now known to be one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world! The fruit tastes like a vibrant blend of berries and chocolate and is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids.

The antioxidants of Acai are 10 times greater than the antioxidants found in red grapes and 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins of red wine. The fatty acid content in Açaí resembles that of olive oil, and is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. Oleic acid is important for a number of reasons. For one, it helps omega-3 fish oils penetrate the cell membrane and together they help make cell membranes suppler. By keeping the cell membrane supple, all hormones, neurotransmitter and insulin receptors function more efficiently.

How is Acai consumed? The juice and pulp of Acai fruits (Euterpe oleracea) is frequently used in various juice blends, smoothies, sodas, and other beverages. Acai can be freeze-dried or bought in a concentrate formula. For those in northern Brazil, Açaí is traditionally served in gourds called “cuias” with tapioca and sometimes sugar. Acai has become a fad in southern Brazil where it is consumed cold as açaí na tigela (“açaí in the bowl”), mostly mixed with granola – a fad where acai is considered as an energizer. Acai is also widely consumed in Brazil as an ice cream flavor or juice.

However you take your Acai, you will certainly be pleasantly surprised by its flavor and results.