Every Reason to Love the Acai Berry (Beyond How Pretty It Looks in Photos)

Here's what you need to know about the wellness world's buzziest berry.

If superfoods were like sports teams, the acaí (pronounced AH-sigh-YEE) berry would—without question—be the all-star quarterback of fruits. It's delicious, abnormally attractive, and hugely popular. You've probably seen the dark purple fruit all over your Instagram feed as a base for picture-perfect breakfast bowls covered in trendy toppings like chia seeds, matcha powder, and goji berries. But what is acaí, exactly, and what are the benefits it has to offer beyond those good looks?

What Is Acaí?

Acaí is a 1-inch round berry that comes from the acai palm tree, which is native to rainforests of Central and South America. The berries have a deep purple skin, yellow flesh, and a large-sized seed inside. They're fairly similar to grapes in their size and structure—the seed takes up about 80 percent of the fruit itself. Acaí berries have a slightly sweet and earthy flavor that's often compared to blueberries paired with very dark chocolate.

Benefits

The health halo is real, to an extent. Acaí berries are a nutrient-dense food with very little sugar and plenty of promising benefits, but don't go mistaking them for some form of magical cure-all (or "purple gold," as they've been deemed by many). Here are the main health perks they do have.

  • Antioxidants: The same plant component that gives the acaí berry its deep purple color, anthocyanin, also acts as an antioxidant in the body. Acaí has an incredible amount of antioxidants (more than the amount that blueberries offer), which will help neutralize the damaging effects of free-radicals in your body.
  • Fiber: At around 3 to 5 grams per serving, acaí serves as a source of heart-healthy fiber in your diet.
  • Low sugar: If you're looking for a lower-sugar dessert swap, acaí is perfect. It contains anywhere from 0 to 2 grams of sugar per serving, which is much less than almost any other fruit (let alone an ice cream scoop, cake, or cookie).
  • Calcium: While not a significant source, acaí does contain some calcium, which will help keep your bones, muscles, and heart strong.

Where to Find Acaí & How to Make It

A lesser-known fact about acaí is that the berries have an extremely short shelf-life and aren't actually sold in fresh form outside of the place that they were grown. When exported, they're typically processed into a pulp and sold as a frozen fruit puree, pressed juice, or dried powder. They're also used to flavor food products, like yogurt or sorbet.

The frozen puree is by far the most popular acaí berry product—it's easy to prepare, readily available, and seriously delicious. To make your own acaí bowl, blend a pack of pureed acaí from the biggest producer, Sambazon, with a bit of water, coconut water, or coconut milk (if you prefer a richer texture) until creamy. Pour the smoothie into a bowl and shower it with fresh fruit, nuts or nut butter, chocolate, coconut flakes, and granola. It's the pious dessert of your dreams. If you'd rather taste acaí ready-made (or for those who like to bring breakfast on the go), we love Siggi's Mixed Berry & Acai yogurt.

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Sources
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  1. Pirozzi AVA, Imbimbo P, D'Agostino A, et al. Antioxidant and hypolipidemic activity of açai fruit makes it a valuable functional food. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;10(1):40. doi:10.3390/antiox10010040

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