Acai Berry

The Acai berry originated in Central and South America. They are in season all year round. Acai berries grow in the acai palm, a Central and South American member of the palm tree family. The name comes from the English version of an indigenous South American word meaning fruit that cries or expels water. This berry is similar to a grape but smaller and less pulpy with a large seed that makes up 80% of the fruit. Since the size of the seed is so large, it makes eating the fruit difficult and the fruit’s high fat content makes it highly perishable. This is why the berry tends to be sold and exported overseas only as a juice or extract.

Acai berry juice and extracts are an excellent source of vitamins C and E and iron. They’re also a good source of potassium and contain high levels of various antioxidant phenolic compounds. In just one cup of acai berry juice blend there are 111 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber. A 2008 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found the antioxidant compounds in acai that isolated six different phenols. Another study showed that other compounds in acai resulted in the proliferation of leukemia cells. The acai berry is also added to wines and liquors.

Source: Reinhard, Tonia. Superfoods: the Healthiest Foods on the Planet. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2010. Print.

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