What Is Acai? How It’s Pronounced and Superfood Benefits
Add it to your granola and smoothie bowls.
There are numerous ways to boost your overall health and wellness, from visiting the doctor regularly to adding nutrient-rich foods to your diet. One food with extraordinary benefits is acai berry, a bright purple fruit that can be added to smoothies, bowls, and other delicious treats.
Eating healthy is about more than keeping your weight in check. It helps boost energy levels, support brain health, reduce cholesterol, and improve sleep every night. Here’s a closer look at acai, one of the most delicious and nutrient-dense superfoods.
What is the acai fruit?
The acai berry comes from the acai palm tree, which is found in South and Central America, primarily in rainforest environments like the Amazon. They’re smaller than grapes (closer to the size of blueberries), and range in color from a deep reddish-purple to shades of green, depending on the maturity of the acai berry. While acai berries are referred to and often grouped with berries, they are actually a drupe, or stone fruit (the same classification that peaches, cherries, and walnuts belong to).
Acai berries have been praised for their health benefits, one of which is supporting weight loss and fat burning. Additional benefits of acai include the fruit’s versatility, which allows for working it into everything from smoothie bowls and juice blends to a sweet puree. It can even be added dark chocolate and ice cream for extra flavor and color.
Among the many reasons that an acai puree makes such a great addition to dark chocolate is its unique taste. Most berries, like raspberries and blueberries, are sweet, a little tart, or some combination of the two. The acai berry, by contrast, has an earthy flavor with a hint of bitterness, as if from a root. In fact, acai berries have no natural sugars. This is perhaps why acai bowls have been described as tasting like dark chocolate.
Where can I buy acai?
Acai can be purchased in many forms. While it’s possible to eat acai berries raw, they tend to go bad. In most cases, grocery stores and other retailers carry acai products that have been preserved for longer use, like acai juice, frozen puree, frozen acai, or acai in powdered form. The longer shelf life makes enjoying the health benefits of acai more practical.
How is acai pronounced?
Acai may be prolific, but its correct pronunciation is not. That’s because we typically read — versus hear — the name of this superfood. At first glance, it looks like acai would be pronounced “a-ka-eye,” but that’s not the case. To say “acai” out loud, use a long “a” sound, an “sa” sound, and a double “ee” sound. Altogether, “acai” is pronounced “ah-sigh-ee.”
Superfood Benefits of Acai
Superfoods aren’t actually a category of food. Rather, it refers to foods that are nutrient-dense and low in calories. There are several types of superfoods, including avocados, leafy greens, garlic, and spices like ginger and cinnamon. Here are a few of the many benefits you can expect to enjoy when you add acai berry superfoods to your diet.
It’s rich in antioxidants.
During periods of stress or extreme environmental conditions, the body often generates free radicals, which can alter or damage DNA code and cell membranes. Oxidative stress can develop after excessive exposure to free radicals, which can contribute to chronic long-term health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. The body combats these free radicals with defenders known as antioxidants.
Antioxidants show up in vitamins like Vitamin E and Vitamin C, and eating certain foods and taking certain dietary supplementations can enhance their functionality. Acai berry is rich in antioxidants. (They contain more, for example, than cranberries.) These antioxidants come from anthocyanins, the plant compound responsible for the unique color of the acai berry. Anthocyanins can also be found in black beans and blueberries. To reap the complete antioxidant benefits of acai berries, reach for acai pulp rather than acai juice.
It offers nutrients.
To function optimally, our bodies rely on an array of vitamins and nutrients. Consuming the acai berry helps to ensure you get all the nutrients you need for energy, brain health, heart health, and longevity. Acai berries low in calories and relatively high in healthy fats, which improves energy. Acai berries are also rich in nutrients, most notably carbs, fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins. They also have Vitamin A, calcium, and trace amounts of iron and zinc.
It helps with cholesterol.
While studies are still in the early stages, there is evidence to indicate that acai berries may be useful for improving cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can result from several factors, including poor diet, lack of exercise and activity, obesity, and excessive use of cigarettes and alcohol. It can affect the flow of blood through the arteries and, over time, may even cause clots to form, which is how heart attacks and strokes occur. While you should always speak to your doctor when it comes to medical advice, it’s possible that this superfood can help to lower your cholesterol, especially when consumed in combination with other methods and practices.
It helps with weight loss.
It’s important to note that acai berry is not directly linked to weight loss. However, consuming acai berries can help to support weight loss and weight maintenance over time. That’s because acai berries, with their slight sweetness, are a good stand in for the overly-sugary treats like cookies and candy that we forfeit (but continue to crave) when we start a new diet and weight loss regime. When embarking on a weight loss journey, it’s important to find foods that you enjoy, rather than setting up a system that leaves you deprived. Acai berries fit the tasty health foods bill.
It can support healthy aging.
Our brains go through many changes as we age and evolve. Acai berries, like other types of fruits and vegetables, have anti-aging benefits that can help boost brain function and provide protection from the damage that age inflicts on the brain. This is due, in part, to their antioxidants. When inflammation and oxidation affect the brain, it can impact our memories and our abilities to learn. Antioxidants help to combat the effects of inflammation and oxidation, which can mean less memory loss and smoother, easier aging over time.
They can be good for the skin and nails.
In addition to helping your body and your brain, the vitamins and nutrients in acai berries have been shown to support healthy hair, skin, and nails. The same free radicals that can damage the body and contribute to chronic and acute conditions can also affect the skin and lead to damage and discoloration. The antioxidants that help to fight those free radicals below the surface are also useful for protecting the skin and may even improve its texture and appearance. These antioxidants are even useful for protecting the skin against environmental irritants, like excess sun exposure, pollutants, and allergens.
Additionally, acai berry is rich in vitamins, including Vitamin E. Vitamin E has proven useful in healing the skin, which is why it is so often found in skin care products and lotions. If you’re looking for foods that improve skin, add acai berry to your list. It helps to protect skin against pollutants and damage, and supports in repairing the surface of the skin if damage has already occurred. Your skin will feel and look smoother with the addition of acai berry to your diet, though you may also find skincare products that use acai properties that can be applied directly to the skin. Of course, you should always research and patch test before committing to any skin care product.
One food that can really make a difference in your diet is the acai berry. The acai berry is incredibly beneficial for many reasons and comes with a delicious taste that makes it easy to add to granola and smoothie bowls. It benefits the mind and body, and it may even prove useful during the weight loss process as a replacement for high-calorie candies and cookies. See why this superfood is so super today!
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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