The açaí berry is a small, round, black-purple fruit similar in appearance to a blueberry. It grows in branched panicles of 500 to 900 fruits on açaí palm trees in Brazil, Belize and Peru. Since the 1990s, açaí juice, freeze-dried açaí and açaí extracts have been marketed globally for use in juice blends, smoothies and other beverages and as a dietary supplement. The açaí berry is high in nutirents important for optimal health.
Basic Nutrition Facts
Açaí berries are one of the fruits with the highest antioxidant content, even more than blueberries. The açaí berry offers approximately 247 calories per 100-gram serving. A 50-gram serving of powdered, freeze-dried açaí fruit pulp and skin provides about 265 calories, 26 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of protein and 16 g of fat (mostly oleic acid or monounsaturated fat). The powder is particularly rich in calcium and vitamin A.
A 50-gram serving of powdered, freeze-dried açaí fruit pulp offers about 26 g of dietary fiber, which is nearly 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Value (DV). Fiber comes from plant foods, is essential for a healthy digestive system and, according to a review published in "Current Atherosclerosis Reports" in December 2008, helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of coronary artery disease. Foods rich in dietary fiber enhance satiety and help keep you feeling fuller longer, which assists in weight control.
Vitamins and Minerals
Açaí berry powder is particularly rich in vitamin A and the major mineral calcium. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant in the body, protecting cells from damage by free radicals, charged oxygen particles that come from environmental pollutants and other sources. Vitamin A is also necessary for healthy eyesight and proper growth and development. Calcium is an important bone-building mineral that also helps regulate blood pressure.
Other Benefical Nutrients
A 50-gram seving of freeze-dried açaí berry pulp offers 16 g of fat, mostly heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (similar to that of another fruit, the avocado). According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), you should control your fat intake, but the fat you choose should be from foods rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, for optimum health.
In addition, açaí berry powder is protein-rich. Protein is essential for building body cells, tissues and muscles.
The açaí fruit offers the highest phytochemical content of any fruit or vegetable. According to an article published in "Molecular Nutrition & Food Research" in February 2010, phytochemicals are plant compounds that offer disease-fighting properties and may benefit health in other ways. Powdered, freeze-dried açaí fruit pulp and skin is rich in two classes of phytochemcials: anthocyanins and phenolics.
According to an article published in the "Journal of Biomedical Technology" in December 2004, anthocyanins are found in red/purple produce; they help maintain a healthy circulatory system, ensure proper nerve function and may offer anti-cancer benefits. Phenolics offer similar benefits and can be found in other foods like grapes and red wine.