You’re up on the fashion and accessory trends, but are you up on the food trends? Among the latest fads is the acai, pronounced “ah-sa-ee” or “ah-sie-ee,” berry from the Amazon rain forest. Although the acai berry has been a popular food in Brazil for years, this exotic fruit arrived in America in 2000 and took the stage as a culinary superstar.
Acai palms, deep in the heart of Brazil, produce the acai berries. The berry looks like a purple blueberry with a large seed inside. Being in high demand and having to travel so far to the United States, the price on these berries tends to be quite a bit higher than their local counterparts. According to a September 2008 New Mexico State University newsletter “Nutrition You Can Use,” one juice that contained acai berry extract costs $1 per half oz.
Acai berries are marketed as a superfood or miracle food. This claim stems from the fact that, like many berries, the acai contains antioxidants, which are believed to be immunity boosting and cancer fighting. In 2006, the University of Florida released a study claiming that the antioxidants in acai berries had destroyed cancer cells in lab tests. This is similar to the work done by other fruits and berries. Acai berries are also full of Vitamin C polyphenols and low in sugar.
Acai berries have a distinct berry flavor with a natural, chocolate twinge. This makes them a popular snack. Look for fresh or preserved berries in specialty or gourmet grocery store, for a healthy alternative to chocolate or sugary snacks. A Texas A&M University study found that humans absorb the antioxidant properties of acai in juice form, as well as pulp. Buy acai berry juice or make smoothies to get the nutrition in a beverage. You can also find the berry dried and powdered in a supplement form.
Because of the hype behind the high antioxidant levels in the acai berry, many companies advertise free or inexpensive options. These often come with high costs later. Some of the more reasonably priced juices are tempered with pomegranate, apple or other berry juices. Research the ingredients before you pay an exorbitant fee.
Antioxidants are found in many other fruits, such as grapes and mango, as shown in the University of Florida study. If you enjoy the particular taste of the acai berry and find a good price, enjoy using it in your diet. Diversify with blueberries, strawberries and other fruits for maximum nutritional benefit.
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