The acai berry is one of the most spectacular newcomers to the superfood industry in recent years. But does it have all of the miraculous affects it’s often attributed? Read for yourself!
- ...provide dietary fibers. Here in the US, acai berries are available almost exclusively as juice or concentrated powder. In online shops or in organic supermarkets you can also get frozen acai berry puree. Powder from acai berries in particular contains a lot of fiber — up to 40 percent per 100 grams, depending on the product and manufacturer.
- ...score points with minerals. Acai berries are relatively rich in minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium.
- ...support the immune system. The secondary plant substances and vitamins C, A, and B present in acai berries support the immune system in its defense against viruses and bacteria.
- ...contain high-quality fats. Unlike our native berries, acai berries contain quite a lot of fat: 41 grams of it per 100 grams of acai powder. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial to the body, make up around 32 grams.
- ...keep you young and fit. Like all dark berries, acai berries contain plenty of natural colorings, the so-called anthocyanin. They have an antioxidant effect and protect the body's cells from free radicals, which play an essential role in the aging process.
- ...may not deliver on promises. While acai berries are said to help against diabetes and even cancer, as well as make us slim and give us eternal youth, there is no scientific evidence that backs this promise; existing study results are based on animal and laboratory experiments. Nutritionists are therefore unanimous: Acai berries may be healthy, but they are no healthier than native berries.
What You Should Know About Acai Berries
In Brazil, acai berries have been known for at least 3,000 years and are considered a staple food. They are typically enjoyed as a pure with fish or meat. Brazilians also like to prepare ice cream, shakes, smoothies and cocktails from the pulpa — the fruit pulp or puree made from acai berries.
Acai berries come from Brazil.
Since you can't get fresh acai berries in the US, there is no special season.
Acai berries taste only slightly sweet, yet fruity and earthy and a bit like beetroot.
How Healthy Are Acai Berries?
There is a real hype about acai berries in our country because they are said to have a miraculous superfood effect. However, the claim is quite controversial among nutrition experts. Although there are now various studies on the health effects of acai berries, very few of them are based on human research. In most cases, the results refer to animal experiments that cannot be transferred to humans without further ado.
The idea that acai berries make you slim is one of the myths that has not yet been proven. While they do help the figure just as much as native berries, they have no more effect. A study did prove that acai berries can improve the condition of the blood vessels in overweight men (not women!).
The results of the study are not particularly surprising because, like all berries, acai berries contain plenty of anthocyanins. These natural colorings have an antioxidant effect, meaning they protect the body's cells from free radicals, which play a role in the aging process and the development of diseases.
The powder from acai berries is abundant in fiber, and depending on the product, up to 40 percent of the fiber is dietary. But note that this amount is contained in 100 grams of powder, which no one is likely to consume. Acai berries are also often praised for high vitamin and mineral content in powder form, which is only ingested in small quantities.
Pregnant and nursing women should look carefully at the label before consuming an acai product: Some contain guarana, which can harm the unborn child or infant because of its caffeine content.
|Nutritional values of Acai Berries per 100 grams|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
Fresh acai berries are not available in the US because they spoil quickly and would hardly survive the journey. Juice, puree, dried acai berries or highly concentrated powder can be bought in health food stores, organic food stores and pharmacies. With powder, make sure that the content of acai berries is 80 to 90 percent. For juice and puree, it is generally lower because water is also a component.
If the highest quality is important, it is worth going for organic quality acai berry products.
Dried acai berries and powders last almost indefinitely if you keep them in a tightly closed container. Juice and puree should be kept in the refrigerator after opening and consumed soon.
What to Make With Acai Berries
Powders, juices or purees from acai berries are perfect for making smoothies, mixed drinks and desserts. Dried acai berries are also great for muesli or baking.
Knowledge To Go
Acai berries and the products made from them are most likely as healthy as traditional berries. So far, experts are by no means convinced of alleged miracle effects on health, though there are only a few studies on acai berries that are based almost exclusively on animal experiments.