Health enthusiasts and foodies have wanted to get their hands on acai related to their "superfood" nuance. But what really makes them so special? Does the fancy name of "acai" really live up to its expectations? Nutrition professionals think so and here is why!
Ah-cahh… Ah-sayy, Ah-What?
First off, the mysterious question of "How is acai pronounced?" is tackled. The pronunciation of acai is actually ah-sigh-EE. Now that is out of the way, acai berries are grown and cultivated in the Amazon regions. For centuries, natives have enjoyed this blueberry lookalike in its berry form or as a pulp. Just until recently, its consumption was solely available in regions close to the Amazon. But thanks to acai's ability to keep nutritional value in its pureed form, its popularity emerged in the U.S. and Europe. This Amazon staple is now apart of the American diet, mostly in frozen puree or powder form, and provides tremendous health benefits.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits
Acai has been proposed as a "superfood" but what exactly gives acai its superpowers? Acai berries are an antioxidant powerhouse. Berries are common antioxidant-rich fruits yet acai berries are thought to have more antioxidants than average strawberries and blueberries. Antioxidants are highly beneficial to the body - they protect the cells from damage that may lessen the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Additionally, the majority of the powerful antioxidants are found in the berry's skin. Acai berries are also an essential fatty acid source, an uncommon component in fruits and berries. However, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in acai may work in tandem with its antioxidant composition to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, acai is a rich fiber and protein source. The fiber content in acai berries supports a healthy digestive system and bowel regularity. Further working as synergists with those "good" fats and antioxidants, the soluble fiber may help decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. The protein found in acai is extremely noteworthy, as its profile is similar to an egg and contains essential amino acids. This notable amino acid complex allows vegans to still reap the protein benefits, all while sticking to vegan practices.
Delicious Acai Recipes
For this antioxidant-rich smoothie, blend together frozen acai puree, banana, blueberries, honey, and a splash of milk to reach desired consistency. Amounts and other ingredients can also be adjusted to tailor personal preferences. Add a handful or two of spinach to further increase the nutritional content.
Instead of taking the acai smoothie on the go and with a straw, utilize or tweak the recipe above and add toppings for a satisfying, protein-packed breakfast. Acai bowls are extremely popular in the health world and although the options are seemingly endless, here are a few acai breakfast bowl ideas:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Acai Bowl
This is a new twist on a childhood classic. Add on bananas, a sprinkle of oats, strawberries, and a dollop of peanut or almond butter.
Banana Split Acai Bowl
This old-fashioned ice-cream is getting a nutritious makeover and features sliced banana, strawberries, pineapple, chopped nuts, and a drizzle of chocolate.
Chocolate Covered Berries Acai Bowl
The flavors of acai berries and chocolate truly compliment one another. For a sweet treat, top with fresh berries and dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs.