What is Acai? – Everything You Need to Know About Açaí Berry Benefits
One of the most delicious members of the superfood squad — a.k.a. the cool kids of the food pyramid — is a fruit you’ve probably seen all over your Instagram feed. Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is best known for being the not-so-secret ingredient in picture-perfect smoothie bowls, but there’s more to these berries than just their good looks.
Superfood Qualities of Açaí
What is açaí, anyway? Found on açaí palm trees in South American rainforests, açaí berries are a lot like grapes. The seed takes up about 80% of the berry, but the flesh and skin pack plenty of vitamins and other nutrients in the remaining 20%. Not to mention the berries are only about 70 calories a cup.
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Like other berries, açaí are packed with antioxidants that can help build up your immune system and protect your cells against damage from free radicals.
Full of fiber, açaí berries not only help make your trips to the bathroom regular and healthy, but also help keep you full and your blood sugar steady.
3. Heart-Healthy Fats
It might seem like a diet rich in fish, nuts and avocados is the only way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, but açaí berries are also a great source. By eating a diet rich in these heart-healthy fats, you could lower your risk of coronary heart disease and improve your cholesterol.
High in calcium, açaí berries will help keep your bones, heart, muscles and nerves strong and healthy.
Health Claims of Açaí
Do these berries live up to their nickname “purple gold”? They are powerful, but don’t depend on them to help fix your health ailments by themselves.
“Although lots of people eat these berries — amongst other foods — for their ‘magical powers,’ you’re not going to find magic in one food,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It. “The magic comes from a diet that contains a variety of foods that work in concert with each other.”
1. Heart Disease
There’s no proof with açaí berries specifically, but eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables overall can help prevent heart disease.
Produce-filled diets can also help lower the risk of most cancers, according to the American Cancer Society, but research hasn’t been done on açaí specifically.
3. Weight Loss
You guessed it: Munching on lots of fruit and vegetables — including açaí berries — as well as exercising regularly can help you lose weight.
All berries contain anthocyanins that have been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help ease the symptoms, says the Arthritis Foundation.
5. High Cholesterol
Eating more fiber from fruit (e.g., açaí), vegetables, beans and other sources can help lower cholesterol levels.
6. Erectile Dysfunction
There’s no evidence on açaí berries specifically, but researchers in a January 2016 study found eating berries in general might reduce men’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED). In addition, being overweight can cause or make ED worse, says the Mayo Clinic. Eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables can help with weight loss and hopefully improve symptoms.
It’s still true: A healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, protein and healthy fats can help with everything from acne to aging.