You’ve seen it mixed in with your favorite juices at the market, and you’ve probably even seen it as a flavoring in teas and vitamin-infused waters. In fact, it’s even marketed as one of the world’s most powerful dietary and nutritional supplements. What is an acai berry, and why is everyone making such a big fuss?
What Is an Acai Berry? The Basic Facts
Of the seven species of palm trees that grow around the world, only one produces the acai berry. This particular palm, known as the acai palm, grows in the tropical regions of Central and South America – namely in places like Brazil. The fruit is about an inch long and varies in color from a deep, blood red to a purple so dark it is almost black. People who eat the whole fruit or drink acai juice say it tastes like a very strong raspberry or blackberry with a hint of dark cocoa at the finish.
The History of Acai
The acai fruit is a very common fruit in the diets of people living in Central and South America. Although it’s been a dietary staple there for centuries, it wasn’t introduced to the western world until the 1990s. Centuries ago, native tribes in the jungles of those regions believed that acai benefits could cure a variety of conditions. They used it for everything from relieving the pain associated with minor injuries to preventing infection in cuts and scrapes. In fact, the uwishin, or native medicine men and women, claim that they have used acai as a natural form of Viagra for decades.
Surf’s Up in the Western World
Believe it or not, the acai berry was first used in the West by surfers who wanted to improve and regain their energy to catch the next big wave. The surfers would either consume the fruit whole or juice it and freeze it to keep it fresh. It wasn’t long before everyone who was anyone was drinking beverages laced with acai berry, and they reported more energy and feelings of general wellbeing. Shortly thereafter, scientists got wind of the newest craze and decided to do a little research.
Upon examining the acai berry, scientists quickly found that it is absolutely packed with vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to remain healthy. Among these are proteins, fiber, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and a vast array of free radical-fighting antioxidants. Once the news went public, people everywhere clamored for acai. Today, it’s possible to find it in products ranging from dietary supplements to granola bars. It’s even added to teas and juices in order to boost their nutritional value.
What is an acai berry? It’s one of the world’s most powerful superfoods, and it has been used to treat and/or prevent a variety of conditions for centuries. It tastes great, and it grows in abundance in the tropical regions of the world. Thanks to global transportation, it’s widely available on almost every continent, including not only South and Central America, but also North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.