The açaí palm (Portuguese About this sound listen), from Tupi-Guarani asaí, Euterpe oleracea, is a species of palm tree (Arecaceae) cultivated for its fruit (açaí berries or simply açaí), hearts of palm (a vegetable), leaves and trunk wood. Global demand for the fruit expanded rapidly in the 21st century and so the tree is cultivated for that purpose primarily.
Euterpe oleracea is mostly native to Brazil, Trinidad and other countries of northern South America, mainly in swamps and floodplains. Açaí palms are tall, slender trees growing to more than 25 m (82 ft) tall, with pinnate leaves up to 3 m (9.8 ft) long. The fruit is small, round, and black-purple in color and may be sold as a frozen fruit puree or bottled juice drink with added sugar
The fruit, commonly known as açaí berry or açaí, is a small, round, black-purple drupe about 25 mm (1 in) in circumference, similar in appearance to a grape, but smaller and with less pulp and produced in branched panicles of 500 to 900 fruits. The exocarp of the ripe fruits is a deep purple color, or green, depending on the kind of açaí and its maturity. The mesocarp is pulpy and thin, with a consistent thickness of 1 mm (0.04 in) or less. It surrounds the voluminous and hard endocarp, which contains a single large seed about 7–10 mm (0.3–0.4 in) in diameter. The seed makes up about 60-80% of the fruit. The palm bears fruit year round but the berry cannot be harvested during the rainy season.
100 grams of frozen fruit pulp has the following nutritional breakdown :
Fat: 5 grams
Saturated fat: 1.5 grams
Carbs: 4 grams
Sugar: 2 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Vitamin A: 15% of the RDI
Calcium: 2% of the RDI
12 Amazing Benefits
Promotes Heart Health
Like red wine, acai berries are extremely high in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that supports balanced cholesterol levels. They are also rich in plant sterols that provide cardioprotective benefits, including supporting circulation, improving overall blood composition, and relaxing the blood vessels.
Stops Bad Cell Proliferation
Acai berries are powerhouses against bad cell growth. Multiple studies have found that the anthocyanins and polyphenols found in acai berries have strong antiproliferative properties–which means they stop bad cells from growing out of control. Studies have found up to 95% inhibition from acai. It is thought that these phytochemicals can disrupt cell mutation at a molecular level, killing the affected cells before they multiply.
Aids Weight Loss
Acai may help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. One interesting study found that eating 200 grams of acai pulp reduced total body fat, reduced skinfolds, and increased insulin sensitivity in overweight women. In the same study, women whose body weight was normal experienced a redistribution of body fat, with reduced subcutaneous body fat but increased visceral fat.
Promotes Skin Health
Natural skin care products made with acai oil are a great natural alternative to chemical-based skin care products. Currently, many beauty products contain acai oil because of the oil’s high antioxidant content. Its skin care benefits aren’t limited to an external application. When eaten, the berries provide nutrition that can give your skin a healthy glow. In fact, Brazilians have been eating acai berries for centuries to promote skin health.
Acai may aid in keeping the digestive system clean and functioning normally. These berries have powerful detoxification capacities, and flour made from the seeds is a good source of dietary fiber. Of course, there are other high fiber foods that do the same thing, including other berries.
Acai seed extract has properties that may prevent irritation in the lungs typically associated with respiratory distress and swelling from smoke inhalation. Although I recommend quitting smoking or never starting in the first place, if you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke, acai’s antioxidant properties may reduce smoke-induced swelling inside of your lungs.
Improves Cellular Health
Acai plays an important role in the body’s cellular protection system, helping to keep cells strong against the invasion of free radicals. Acai has the strongest activity of any fruit or vegetable tested to date against the peroxyl free radical and superoxides, which cause cell damage. The antioxidants in acai enter human white blood cells and perform an “oxygen quenching function” at very low doses. That’s why acai is called a superfood!
Immune System Booster
People call acai a superfood for a good reason. Studies have found that consuming acai fruit boosted the production of human gamma delta T cells in cell cultures, which are an important part of the immune system. When given directly to people, acai also boosted the production of interleukin 12 (IL-12) as well as myeloid cells, a type of white blood cells which ensure your immune system is healthy.
Has Anti-Aging Effects
Extremely high in many forms of phytochemicals, acai berries may slow or reverse aging processes as they relate to oxidative damage. In fact, the berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants; acai berries have ten times as many antioxidants as grapes and twice as many as blueberries.
Due to its overall health benefits, taking acai extract can lead to increased energy and stamina and may even help combat fatigue and exhaustion – especially after exercise. In one study, drinking an acai beverage not only reduced the body’s metabolic stress from exercise, but it also reduced the exerciser’s perceived exertion, which is how much effort they felt they were expanding. It also increased the time before they felt exhausted. Whenever you need a boost, simply eat a handful of berries, and you will be ready to go in no time!
Encourages a Healthy Libido
Although not an aphrodisiac per se, this famous purple berry is linked to overall increased blood circulation in the human body, a phenomenon that may contribute to a boost in sex drive, especially for men. When overweight men consumed an acai smoothie, it led to improved vascular function, which is a characteristic of how blood flows through the body’s blood vessels.
Improves Mental Function
Acai is high in anthocyanins and other neurologically active plant compounds (phytochemicals). Preliminary research studies show that acai may improve short and long-term memory and promote healthy brain aging. Scientists have studied how acai may protect against neurological diseases, including dementia.