The acai berry is small, round, purple-black fruit grows on the acai palm tress in Brazil, Belize and Peru. Although it resembles blueberries and is referred to as a berry, it is actually a drupe because the seed inside similar to a cherry. Acai berry tastes like a cross between blackberries dark chocolate resulting in tartness instead of sweetness.
Acai berries are rich in fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamin A and calcium. They have been ranked higher than blueberries when it comes to antioxidant content and offers the highest phytochemical content of any fruit or vegetable. Phytochemicals are plant compounds that offer disease-fighting properties and anthocyanins and phenolics are abundant in the acai fruit. In addition, acai powder is protein-rich.
Although research on potential health benefits is limited, the nutrient make-up offers these potential advantages:
- Improved cardiovascular health - Acai berries are rich in anthocyanins which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol by scavenging some of the harmful LDL cholesterol off of artery walls resulting in a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack. Also, the large amount of plant sterols, which act as vasodilators and relax blood vessels, help to reduce blood pressure, prevent blood clots and generally improve the circulation and oxygenation of the blood.
- Strengthened immune system and decreased risk of cancer - Acai’s high amount of vitamin C helps to build and maintain a strong immune system. In addition, it is good source of polyphenols, which have been shown to fight cancerous growth on a molecular level preventing small cancerous growths from multiplying and metastasizing.
- Natural detoxification and a healthy digestive system - The berries have powerful detoxification capacities in the human body and the significant amount of dietary fiber helps to maintain digestive system health.
- Anti-aging effects - Due to the extremely high plant phytochemicals found in acai berries, they may contribute to an ability to slow or reverse typical processes of aging related to oxidative damage.
Other benefits may include help with weight management, improved mental function and increased energy.