Acai is a valuable plant for its fruit, trunk, and leaves. It is native to the Amazon Rainforest, and its demand in the past few years has increased tremendously; most of the cultivation of Acai is for human usage. Therefore, Acai is known as a superfood owing to its benefits. Acai is present in two main forms; Acai berries and Acai puree. The acai berry is mainly round in size and black-purple. Acai slightly has a sour taste and is primarily sold in the form of powder or puree.
Acai became prominent around the 18th Century, but it became a staple food in the urban areas only around the 2000s. Several Amazonian Fruits gained popularity during this period.
Acai Forms for Consumption
There are majorly three forms in which Acai is present in the market. These are:
Acai gets combined with other berry juices like blueberries in the juice form, and extra sugar gets added most of the time to enhance the flavour. So if you plan to cut down calories, look for pure acai juice rather than mixed berry juices.
Acai Powder is present in almost all the markets and frequently used for acai-based recipes, including smoothies, oatmeals, and bowls. The acai powder contains the most amount of nutrients of any acai product.
Acai puree is the most commonly used acai product of all time. It is exclusively used for acai bowls and smoothies and is usually available in frozen form. Acai puree is typically flavoured to enhance the taste of the acai bowl.
Nutrition Facts of Acai
According to the data given by USDA, 100g of Acai puree contains the following nutritional properties.
- Protein: 2g
- Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrate: 6g
- Fibre: 3g
- Sugars: 0g
- Calcium: 40 mg
- Vitamin A: 1000 IU
- Vitamin C: 9.6 mg
- Sodium: 7 mg
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Energy: 60 kcal
Acai contains a good amount of Vitamin C, more than several other types of berries like blueberries. In addition, the presence of calcium, iron, and potassium is a cherry on the cake. Most of these vitamins and minerals contribute to the minimum required daily value. Additionally, being a superfood, Acai contains a good amount of fibre, which helps in the digestion and assimilation process.
The HealthifyMe Note
Acai berry is low in calories, with one hundred grams of Acai puree providing only 60 calories. Therefore, it contains fewer calories than healthy foods like bananas or oatmeal. Thus, it is safe to consume Acai regularly in appropriate quantities. Usually, people don’t prefer Acai as the primary source of proteins in their diet as the protein content in Acai is very low. (2 g per 100 g of Acai). Thus, it is wise to add a protein source rather than relying entirely on Acai. However, Acai is suitable for various diet regimens due to its unique nutrient distribution.
Health Benefits of Acai
Most of the Acai-based products have undergone experiments based on animals or guinea pigs. Thus, not much evidence provides clarity on the benefits of Acai. Even then, there are certain benefits based on a few experiments and the results of the masses. These health benefits are listed below.
It is Rich in Antioxidants
It is well-known that the absence of antioxidants can cause several chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. But fret not! Acai is the best solution as it contains enormous amounts of antioxidants, even more than blueberries. These antioxidants come from the acai plant compound anthocyanin. This anthocyanin is the colour compound that gives the purple colour to acai berry. According to research, anthocyanin may aid in lowering blood pressure, which will eventually reduce the risk of heart diseases and disorders.
Every animal-based research on Acai has proved to show anti-cancer properties. For example, in guinea pigs, Acai prevents colon cancer. Although more active research on humans is needed for this finding to be conclusive, this research provides a much-needed ray of hope.
Improves Cognitive Health
Most of the research involved with Acai involves animals till now. According to these studies, acai pulp that contains antioxidants can significantly boost the memory or cognitive ability of the brain. In addition, several studies have concluded that frozen acai pulp may positively affect a person’s intellect. The mechanism involves cleaning the old cells and nerves to form new cells, thus, boosting the brain functions.
Reduces Arthritis Effect
The magic compound anthocyanin in Acai shows anti-inflammatory properties, known to lower the effects of arthritis.
Regulates Cholesterol Levels
The anthocyanin in Acai is known to reduce the level of bad cholesterol in your body, thus reducing the level of total cholesterol. Although this claim is by research involving animals, human-based evidence is yet to arrive. Furthermore, as Acai is a plant, it contains a good amount of sterols that will restrict cholesterol absorption in your body. Thus in no way, Acai can increase the cholesterol level of your body.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Acai reduces blood sugar levels by lowering your body’s insulin and glucose level. Owing to this, Acai is known to prevent the occurrence of chronic heart diseases like arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. In addition, according to research, it also rejuvenates the skin.
The HealthifyMe Note
We can conclude that most of the health benefits offered by Acai are only due to the presence of the magic compound anthocyanin. This antioxidant shows anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties. Owing to these benefits, Acai is declared a superfood.
Ways to Use Acai
- Food Products: Acai Berries, Acai Powder, Acai Pulp, Acai Juice
- Acai Oil: Cooking, Cosmetics(Skin Moisturiser, Shampoos)
- Acai Leaves: Handicrafts-baskets, hats, roofs, etc.
- Acai Tree Branches: Acai trunks are processed to give out edible minerals.
- Acai Seeds: Food for livestock
Healthy Recipe Using Acai
There are many recipes involving Acai as the main ingredient, the most popular one is the Acai Bowl. So here we provide you with this fantastic recipe.
Acai Bowl has several variations. It does not take much time to make a simple Acai Bowl, and every topping gives rise to a new version of Acai Bowl. Here we bring you the acai bowl with the least amount of calories.
Preparation Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20- 25 minutes
1 Cup: 200ml
- Banana (Frozen): 1 (sliced)
- Strawberries (Frozen): ½ Cup
- Blueberries (Frozen): ½ Cup
- Yoghurt: ½ cup
- Almond Milk- ¾ cup
- Acai Puree (Frozen)- 200g (broken into pieces)
- Toppings: Nuts, Fruits, Granola, Seeds, etc.
- Slice all your fruits and place them in a tray with parchment or butter paper. Now place the fruits inside the freezer and freeze them completely.
- Once the fruits are frozen, take a large bowl and add yoghurt and milk. Start adding the frozen fruits to it and blend it at high speed. Mix it on low speed once the texture gets smoother by frequently adding minuscule amounts of water under low speed.
- Now that your smoothie is ready, garnish it with your choice of toppings.
- A few popular ones are already listed. According to the topping, the acai bowl gets its name; for instance, the tropical acai bowl contains all the tropical fruits. Therefore, the Acai bowl is better to consume as it includes fruits.
Allergies Concerning Acai
As Acai is a plant, the chances are that several of us may experience some allergic symptoms. A few of the prevalent allergies are:-
Botanically, Acai belongs to the Arecaceae family, and this family consists of coconuts, dates, etc. So if you are allergic to these products, it is wise to avoid Acai. Consuming Acai in these conditions may show symptoms like rash, itch, wheezing, swelling, etc.
Acai is a plant. So it is expected that if you are allergic to pollen or anything related to plants, you should avoid acai berry as it is a fruit. Consult a doctor before consuming acai puree too.
However, acai berry does not show several side effects on the broader aspect. Nevertheless, as FDA has not reviewed any acai-based products, there are chances that these show side effects and these few are worth mentioning.
Interferes with Chemotherapy
As we know, acai berries contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer. But as we know, too many cooks spoil the broth, so combining acai and chemotherapy drugs is not wise. In addition, the antioxidants present in acai berries usually interfere with radiation therapy and slow it down. Thus, if you are undergoing chemotherapy, it is better to avoid acai berries as a whole.
Presence of Stimulants
Acai berry contains a good amount of theobromine, a compound that can stimulate caffeine. Acai may prove to be a hassle for people who are affected by caffeine. Thus, if you are allergic to products containing stimulants like caffeine, it is wise to avoid acai berries.
There are no studies supporting the use of acai berry for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Thus, till no study declares it safe for them, it is better to avoid berries during pregnancy. Furthermore, as it contains caffeine too, pregnant women are advised against it.
As acai puree is a fruit-based product, it may have a small shelf life. Most of the acai products are available throughout the year. Some countries avoid the sale of Acai berries as they spoil quickly, and it is wise to keep them under these conditions.
- You should freeze Acai puree or acai products as they are gooey most of the time.
- You must consume Acai within a week of purchasing.
- Acai berries have a shelf life of only one day. So plan before you buy them.
- It would help if you stored Acai powders in an airtight container. Then, they don’t need to be frozen, and you can refrigerate them.
Regulations Regarding Consumption of Acai
- You can consume Acai every day. Around two tablespoons every day falls on the safer side.
- Only pregnant women must consult a doctor before consuming Acai every day.
- There is no age limit for the consumption of Acai.
- It is advisable to avoid Acai only if you are allergic to other products of the same family.
- You can consume Acai at any time of the day. But it is wise to include Acai in breakfast in acai bowls.
From a broader perspective, Acai is good for your body even if there are not many theories or experiments suggesting the same. Acai contains good nutrition and fibre that may help prevent several diseases and improve digestion. As a whole, Acai is good to consume any day, any time; only avoid Acai if you fall under any of the allergic sections mentioned above.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is Acai good for?
A. Acai contains a compound- anthocyanin. This compound includes antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. In addition, it aids in weight loss by reducing cholesterol, providing a glow to your face, reducing arthritis symptoms, and detoxifies and rejuvenating your entire body.
Q. Is Acai good for you every day?
A. Yes, Acai can be consumed daily by including it in various recipes. Acai destroys the old blood cells and helps in producing new ones. Thus, if you consume them daily, they can make you feel lively and fresh. Regular consumption of Acai can improve skin features too. You can consume any form of Acai (powder, puree, or juice) in appropriate quantities daily.
Q. Why is Acai a superfood?
A. Acai berries, just like any other berry, contain a good amount of fibre and nutrients. Thus, it is a superfood as these nutrient constituents aid in treating various chronic diseases. E.g., it lowers the bad cholesterol content in your body, thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Q. Does Acai make you gain weight?
A. Acai, in its form, does not add up to the calories of your body. But several recipes involving Acai can increase the weight of your body as they contain sugar. So be cautious of choosing the right acai product without any preservatives. If you plan to lose weight, include the purest form of acai berry or acai juice in your diet.
Q. Does Acai burn belly fat?
A. Yes, Acai helps in weight loss. Acai is a satiating food; thus, you will not crave other foods if Acai is in your diet. Although Acai shows weight loss properties, consuming only Acai will not complete your weight loss cycle. You need to follow a strict diet that would contain other food items and equal quantities of Acai.
Q. Can too much Acai Berry be harmful?
A. As it is said, anything in excess is harmful. So it goes for Acai, too; if you start consuming Acai daily in larger quantities, it may lead to diarrhoea and other digestive problems. Thus, consult a dietician before opting for a full-fledged Acai diet.
Q. Is there a lot of sugar in Acai?
A. No, Acai does not contain high amounts of sugar, and it is low in sugar and high in other nutrients. This feature is the reason why it is permissible in several diets. Therefore, Acai helps reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol in the body.
Q. Does Acai have iron?
A. Yes, Acai does contain high amounts of iron. According to USDA, the iron content of Acai is 1.08 mg per 100g of Acai puree. Due to the presence of iron, Acai is used to treat anaemia and other blood-related issues.
Q. What are the health benefits of Acai?
A. The health benefits of Acai include prevention of cancer, anti-inflammatory, lowering the bad cholesterol, curing blood and heart-related diseases, antioxidant properties, curing arthritis, improving brain health, improving the skin texture, etc.
Q. What is the nutritional value of Acai?
A. According to the research of USDA, 100g of Acai puree contains the following nutritional value.
- Protein: 2g
- Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrate: 6g
- Fibre: 3g
- Sugars: 0g
- Calcium: 40 mg
- Vitamin A: 1000 IU
- Vitamin C: 9.6 mg
- Sodium: 7 mg
- Energy: 60kcal
The fat present in Acai is polyunsaturated fat. Therefore, the health benefits of Acai are solely due to the presence of Vitamins, Iron, and anthocyanin.
Q. Is Acai good for kidneys?
A. Acai is undoubtedly good for kidneys as regular acai consumption can pose as a therapy for the patients as it reduces the inflammation of the kidney. You can consume Acai regularly in appropriate quantities to avoid any kidney-related disorders.
Q. Is Acai healthy for weight loss?
A. Yes, Acai is healthy for weight loss as it reduces the amount of bad cholesterol in your body and adds no calories. So, including them in your weight loss plan can prove to be beneficial in burning fat.
Q. Is Acai better than blueberries?
A. Yes, Acai berries contain ten times more than blueberries. Hence it is better to opt for Acai berries rather than blueberries as a high amount of antioxidants will detoxify your body faster.
Q. Is Acai good for cholesterol?
A. Yes, Acai is good for cholesterol as it reduces the bad cholesterol, thus reducing the total cholesterol level. In addition, Acai puree or Acai berry does not contain cholesterol; therefore, it may aid in weight loss.
Q. Is Acai Berry good for skin?
A. Yes, Acai Berry is good for the skin as it rejuvenates by destroying the old worn and torn blood cells. The antioxidant anthocyanin present in Acai reduces oxidative stress. Thus the blood flow to your skin will increase, and this will cause your skin to glow. Regular consumption of Acai can improve the quality of your skin.
Q. Is there potassium in Acai?
A. Yes, Acai contains a good amount of potassium and other minerals like chromium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, etc. The potassium content in Acai berry is one of the highest fruit categories. All of these aid in maintaining the blood sugar level and preventing inflammation.