Super food – Acai berries

Typically consumed in juice or powder form, acai shot to the spotlight a few years ago as a super food packed with energy and nutrition. Find out more about this little berry and why it’s a considered a super food.

What is acai?

Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a native fruit of South America, found abundantly in the rainforests of Brazil. Harvested from the acai palm, this fruit resembles a grape and is extensively promoted as a superfood, and consumed as a berry or more commonly in juices and smoothies.

There have been many claims of celebrities endorsing this fruit as a secret to weight loss and good health, although many have been junked as fake; most famously those by Oprah Winfrey, America’s chat show queen.

However, the love for the little berry has not waned and acai continues to find its way into healthy diets across the west. Let’s find out more!

Health benefits of acai berries

Full of fibre – Acai berries are a rich source of fibre, which makes them ideal to improve digestion. The fibre is also great for reducing cholesterol, thereby improving heart health and also helping in controlling blood sugar levels.

Rich in essential fatty acids – Acai berries contain hefty doses of omega-6 and omega-9. These are exceptionally good for repairing muscles, as well as for the health of the nervous system. They also help to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and maintain HDL, also known as good cholesterol.

High in antioxidants – Acai berries get their deep, rich purple colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanins (from two Greek words meaning ‘plant’ and ‘blue’). These antioxidants are especially good for fighting premature ageing, as well as improving cardiovascular activity. Acai berries contain 10 times the amount of antioxidants found in grapes and help improve blood circulation.

Aid in weight-loss – There have been many claims that acai berries help give a boost to your weight-loss process, and while there are no conclusive studies that back the claim, the high amount of fibre and presence of MUFAS (monounsaturated fats) in acai berries may be responsible for providing a feeling of fullness that can help a person stick to their diet.

How do you consume acai berries?

Acai berries are typically consumed as part of a juice or smoothie. Health drinks featuring acai berries have gained prominence on many international supermarket shelves, but experts suggest exercising caution while consuming them, as they may be rich in sugar.

Because of an extremely short shelf life, acai berries are seldom found in their original state and are sold as capsules or in frozen or powdered forms.

Are acai berries available in India?

In their original form, acai berries are not available here. However, certain speciality stores do stock supplements in the form of pills, powders or patches.

Beware of acai scams!

Touting these berries as weight-loss supplements or as acai berry diets has become extremely common. Remember, there is no special acai diet that’ll help you lose weight and these berries should only be included in your regular diet as an added supplement and not some miracle food.

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