The acai “superfruit” was virtually unknown outside of Brazil until two enterprising individuals introduced it to the rest of the world in 2000. It took the health industry by storm, becoming an instant hit among enthusiasts. Two decades later, acai continues to amaze people with its many health benefits.
The fruit itself degrades fast, so it has to be processed for wider commercial use. The Acai berry powder is the more popular form, patronised for its convenience in both storage and consumption, but acai is also available in juice and puree form.
What Makes Acai Special
In general, fruits are a good source of nutrients. What sets the acai berry apart is its unique nutritional profile. It is densely packed with the commonly known nutrients but is low on sugar. Even more interesting, it has a surprisingly high amount of omega-6 and omega-9, which are healthy fats.
But what catapulted Acai to the levels of being “super” is its antioxidant content, which is prodigiously high. This may be a result of the topography of the Amazon forest where it came from. The acai berry produced high amounts of anthocyanin as a means to protect itself from the sun that can be harsh at times. Anthocyanin has been found by numerous studies to effectively defuse the various compounds linked to the signs of ageing.
Enjoying Acai in Many Ways
The juice form of acai is loaded with many antioxidants, but some sugar has been added. It also has the lowest fibre content of the three major forms, which is an effect of the juicing or extraction process. It is consumed mostly for detoxification and as a supplement to a normal diet, but filtering must be avoided to maximise the antioxidants.
The puree can be used to make an acai bowl by mixing it with milk or water and adding some healthy toppings. Strawberries, blueberries, granola, and sliced bananas are some of the more popular options. Similar to acai juice, the acai bowl is loaded with antioxidants. It is additionally low in sugar and high in healthy fats and fibre.
The acai berry powder has the most concentration of nutrients, fibre, healthy fat, and other plant compounds. It is also the most convenient to store at home, requiring no refrigeration. The powder form is also the most versatile. It can be used to make either a juice or smoothie bowl. Just mix two heaping teaspoons into 250 ml of water, natural juice, or any smoothie bowl. You can quickly sprinkle it on porridge, yoghurt, or milk for a healthy breakfast.
Future of Acai
With the increasing popularity of the acai berry, manufacturers are coming up with more ways to make them available to consumers. Freeze-dried acai fruits have been available for some time now, and demand for them continues to increase at the industrial and consumer level. It has also been made available in pulp, capsule, tablet, stick, and even sachet form, although the acai berry powder remains the most widespread.
Another trend that experts are looking into is the use of acai in natural and organic cosmetic products, taking advantage of its age-defying capability, which they expect to be a major driving force for the industry in the coming years. They predict that over a million tonnes of berry products will be sold globally by 2026, a big leap from the estimated 300,000 tonnes consumed worldwide in 2016.