Acai – More Than Just a Trend?
In recent times, acai has been gaining traction as a popular super fruit. Fancy, brightly-coloured acai smoothie bowls are extremely eye-catching. However, is this popular fruit really nutritious and beneficial? Or is it just a raging trend with no real value? Read on to find out more about the numerous health benefits of acai and some of the myths surrounding this incredible super fruit.
What is Acai?
Acai berries grow on the palm trees in South American rainforests. They look similar to grapes, with a seed in the middle. Contrary to popular belief, acai berries are not actually berries! Since they have a large pit (seed) in the middle of the fruit, they are technically drupes. Find out more about drupes here. The seed takes up about 80% of the drupe, but the flesh and skin contain a variety of vitamins and nutrients.
Nutrition facts for 100 grams of frozen acai pulp:
- Calories: 70
- 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
The social media craze behind the acai berry
The acai berry’s market fast growth can be credited to social media. The vibrant purple of the acai berry makes it appealing to the eyes, and thus a great product to share on social media. Did you know that the acai berry was once a little-known Brazilian fruit? In fact, it used to grow in the wild, where locals would pick the fruit for their own consumption. Now, acai is grown commercially to meet the rising demand for it.
Health Benefits of Acai
#1 Packed with antioxidants
Antioxidants are an excellent nutrient to be consumed. Foods such as acai, blueberries and black beans contain anthocyanins. Besides giving these foods their rich colour, it helps to counter some of the damaging effects of free radicals. These can cause damage to cells and other diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The antioxidant content of foods is typically measured by an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score. Acai has 100 grams of frozen pulp has an ORAC of 15,405.
#2 Improve cognitive function
Anthocyanin in acai berries also helps to address age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The brain uses a great abundance of oxygen, which is needed to produce the energy that it needs to keep working. As such, that exposes the brain to the greatest amount of free radical attack. Other foods rich in antioxidants can also do the same thing, by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting general brain health as well.
#3 Reducing bad cholesterol
The acai berry is rich in fatty acids, such as oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids. These omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids play an important role in regulating cholesterol levels in the body, and can also reduce the level of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the system. Double win!
#4 Acai aids in digestion
The fibre found in the acai berry skin and pulp is incredibly beneficial for bowel movement. Given the bright colour of the fruit, it makes any acai product visually appealing. What a wonderful way to get your daily dose of fibre needed, especially for children.
What are Some Health Myths Surrounding Acai?
#1 No, acai does not help with weight loss
Unfortunately, there is no scientific basis that supports the idea that acai berry aids in weight loss. Acai berries do have a variety of health benefits, but losing weight is not one of them. However, consuming acai berries can be a good way to curb cravings for overly sugary foods. Just take care to check the ingredient list to ensure that you aren’t consuming too much added sugar!
#2 Acai berries are natural, so acai products are safe and nutritious
Unfortunately, this is not true! Acai berries can now be found in so many different forms that it is hard to keep track of the various additives in these products that could counter the benefits of the natural fruit. For example, certain foods may have added sugars or caffeine that could have adverse effects.
Now that you’ve found out more about the acai berry, we hope you are excited to try some acai products too. Try out this nut mix, which features not only the amazing acai berry, but also some of our favourite nuts and dried fruit pieces as well.