While there are many healthy berries you can add to your diet, the açaí berry is one of the most nutrient dense berries in the world. This superfood is known to most of us as açaí or açaí berry, though you may also find it by its scientific name: Euterpe oleracea Mart, botanical name: Arecaceae (Palmae), or sometimes marketed as the Amazonian palm berry. This berry originated from the Amazonian rainforest, with its greatest roots in Brazil from where approximately 85% of açaí is still harvested.
For hundreds of years the açaí berry has been touted for its many health benefits, ranging from lowering oxidative damage, providing energy, boosting immune system, aiding in digestion, and enhancing cognition, to improving skin health and anti-aging.
Potential Health Benefits of Açaí :
Perhaps the most well-known and most frequently recognized benefit of açaí is its antioxidant capabilities.
Açaí berries, like red wine, are very high in anthocyanins. This type of antioxidant can aid in balancing cholesterol levels. Anthocyanins are also rich in plant sterols that provide the cardio-protective benefits that support circulation, improve overall blood composition, and relax the blood vessels.
By helping the body remain more resilient to the effects of free radicals, açaí is beneficial not only for cardiovascular health, but also the endocrine, digestive, neurological, immune, and nervous system.
Curtails the Spreading of Bad Cell Growth
Açaí berries are strong fighters against the growth and spreading of bad cells. Multiple studies have found that the anthocyanins and polyphenols found in açaí berries have strong anti-proliferative properties – which mean they stop bad cells from growing out of control.
Promotes Skin Health
Açaí skin care benefits aren’t limited to external application through various products, but also by working from the inside out. When eaten, the berries provide nutrition that can give your skin a healthy glow…this has long been a Brazilian “beauty secret.” Because of the high levels of phytonutrients and the antioxidant component, açaí berry is also widely used for anti-aging capabilities.
While each product is different, açaí has a healthy dose of fiber. Açaí berry is considered a natural digestive cleanser not only because of its fiber content, but also its ability to help the liver and kidneys to process and remove waste and toxins from the body.
Immune System Booster
Studies have found that consuming açaí fruit boosted the production of human gamma delta T cells in cell cultures, which are an important part of the immune system. When given directly to people, açaí also boosted the production of interleukin 12 (IL-12) as well as myeloid cells, a type of white blood cells which ensure your immune system is healthy.
Due to its overall health benefits, taking açaí extract can lead to increased energy and stamina and may even help combat fatigue and exhaustion – especially after exercise. In one study, drinking an açaí beverage not only reduced the body’s metabolic stress from exercise, but it also reduced the exerciser’s perceived exertion, which is how much effort they felt they were expanding. It also increased the time before they felt exhausted.
Improves Mental Function
Eating lots of anti-oxidant rich foods is a natural way to improve your focus and memory. Inflammation and oxidative stress are two major underlying causes of cognitive problems, including loss of memory, dementia and other age-related mental disorders.
By lowering inflammation in the neuro pathways açaí berries are believed to help stimulate mental functions and help someone think more clearly, maintain high energy levels and have been said to aid in stress management. Because of its protective nature it can assist in hormonal balancing and lowering of cortisol levels.
How To Buy & Enjoy Açaí!
Because of the delicate nature of this berry, it can begin spoiling within 24 hours of being harvested, making it near impossible to ship and receive fresh. Fortunately, there are many wonderful options available in a powder form. When you are shopping for acai powder it is best to look for ones that are 100% acai and were freeze dried or fresh frozen so that you are sure it retained as much of its healing compounds as possible.
The same way that any other berry may taste different from one to the next, so does açaí. The typical flavor profile can taste like a combination between a blackberry or raspberry mixed with chocolate and an earthy/smoky finish. One theory about its chocolate flavor is due to the polyphenols in the berry, which also happen to be quite strong in cocoa beans as well.
Açaí is great in smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and of course in the use of making açaí bowls. Have fun, be creative, and enjoy the delicious health benefits!
Author Lisa Guertin
-  Schauss, Alexander G., et al. "Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Açaí )." J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(22),8604-8610.
- Laslo, Mara, et al. "A botanical containing freeze dried açai pulp promotes healthy aging and reduces oxidative damage in sod1 knockdown flies." Age. 2013; 35(4),1117-1132.