Sometimes, the important foods just sort of fall in your lap. It’s pretty difficult to go into a grocery store and look at juices without the acai berry popping up in some way or another. Adding them to relatively simple foods has become trendy, mostly due to their current buzz word status seeing as how acai berries are supposed to be a super food. But are they really? What’s their story and why are they so great? That’s what we’re going to look at on today’s nutrition facts article!
Acai Culture and History
Like so many things in this world, the acai berry has been around for thousands of years but only more recently introduced to the Western world, specifically the 1990’s actually. That’s…a pretty big gap there. Acai berries find their native home in the Amazon jungle and were known and used by indigenous tribes pretty much since they could start foraging for food way back in the good ol’ days of the Amazon.
While the tribes around the Amazon were making great use of the acai for both food and medicinal purposes, the rest of us were clueless, that is until someone pointed out that the berries are a super simple way to provide energy without the crash, which is something we’re all about here in the land of sugar and coffee.
These days you’ll constantly hear about acai berries being used in research to cure this ailment or strengthen this diet or essentially anything that involves health in one way or another. But you probably didn’t just hear from any random person that acai berries were a super food. You probably heard it from Oprah. Yup, this is most likely the first and last inclusion in our nutrition facts series that features Oprah as a prominent figure in the history and culture section. But the fact can’t be denied that Oprah bringing on a guest that recommended acai as the number one superfood was the reason that acai berries are so widely beloved to this day.
Health Benefits of Acai
Oh boy, where to begin? The most prominent feature of the berries is their incredibly high antioxidant quantity, which gives them their most notable medical super powers. Basically, with high antioxidants, they are good at reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. So there, you see the initial reason why people are infatuated with them
They’ve also got a handful of other vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and vitamin K, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and fiber. But the big selling point isn’t the usual gang of nutrients. Nope, the show stopper is the amount of medical benefits acai berries seem to have, such as a treatment for diarrhea, hemorrhages and ulcers, fever, parasitic infections, liver disease, menstrual pain, and even malaria to some extent.
The downside to acai berries though is the proliferation of really untrue myths concerning their health benefits. While they can help reduce the risk of diabetes by virtue of antioxidants, they can’t reverse diabetes completely. Nor can they treat chronic illnesses. Nor can they make you lose weight. Nor can they make you larger…downstairs. All you needed to do was show Oprah saying something positive about acai and suddenly companies swarmed like wolves to pick off the most susceptible consumers as fast as possible. Health studies have shown that acai berries are rather good for you, but they haven’t shown that they’re a miracle berry. Be extremely careful about any dietary supplement or online offer for acai-based anything as those very commonly end up being scams. Poor acai berries, being drug into this mess!
Eating More Acai
Because of their fad-like popularity, the price of acai berries is relatively high, making them a hard sell for just a casual snacker. But of course that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them on their own or dried and put into a bag of trail mix and such since they are rather tasty in their own way. As usual, they can be added to anything that a berry would make sense with, so salads, cereals, pastas, whatever.
Also baked goods of course since berries and baked goods have always been best friends. Tarts, muffins, and bagels are all standard, but don’t rule out something like fudge, truffles, cakes, or any manner of sweets. And if that doesn’t seem like enough, try out acai jam, acai gelato, acai smoothies, acai martinis, and even acai catsup. I would never have thought of making catsup with acai berries! Brilliant!
But that’s enough out of me, I want to know how you like your acai berries. Are they best by themselves or do you prefer to bake them into something tasty? Leave a comment and let me know! And while you’re at it, let me know what you think about their health benefits, too. Do you think they’re really as great as they claim? I’m curious to find out!