You may not know acai by name yet, but we’re sure you’ll recognise this superfood. Bright purple acai berries are all over the feeds of fitness influencers, presented in pretty bowls with coconut flakes, edible flowers and granola.
Acai berries look amazing, but they’re more than attractive – they’re good for you too!
In this article, we’ll explain what acai is, how to prepare it, the berry’s health benefits, and any potential risks associated with it.
What is acai?
Acai berries are a superfood and the fruit from a palm tree native to Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The skin of acai berries is tough, so they’ve traditionally been soaked and blended before eating; as they still are today.
How to prepare acai berries
It’s nigh on impossible to find fresh acai berries in the U.K., as they’re mostly grown and harvested in Brazil. However, acai powder and frozen acai purée are readily available in most health stores. Both can be used to make delicious:
- Acai bowls
- Energy bars
Benefits of acai berries
Acai berries are considered a superfood because of their wide range of health benefits, including:
- Antioxidant content. Acai’s beat blueberries and cranberries for high content of antioxidants.1 Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress, a significant factor in the ageing process.2
- Lower cholesterol. Evidence suggests that eating acai decreases cholesterol.3,4
- Preserved brain health. Emerging science indicates that acai consumption may help guard against cognitive decline associated with ageing by maintaining memory and learning functions.5,6
Acai nutrition profile
A 100g portion of acai purée contains:7
- 70 calories
- 75 g of protein
- 26g of fat
- 3g of fibre
- 0g of sugar
- 105 mg of iron
Acai berries are rich in fibre, which can support normal digestive health.8
Unlike most fruits, acai berries contain quite a high proportion of fat and very little sugar. NHS data show that most British adults consume too much sugar.9 This reality is strongly correlated with adverse health outcomes, which can include obesity and tooth decay.10 Acai can support you in reducing your sugar consumption, as it’s a delicious, low-sugar alternative to other fruits.
Potential risks of acai
Acai berries are not currently linked to adverse health outcomes when consumed via powder or purée in the United Kingdom. However, raw acai consumption has been linked to Chagas disease11, an ailment caused by a parasite that’s endemic in Central and South America.12 Be conscientious of that before enjoying a fresh glass on your next holiday to the Amazon rainforest.
Although there are no side effects currently recorded, the current health-hype around Acai berries is not guaranteed. Most studies which determine the health benefits of Acai berries are conducted over short periods. More extended studies are necessary to absolutely resolve how healthy acai is.
Last updated: 29 October 2020