If you find yourself at a juice bar in Brazil, you may see a lot of locals sipping an acai fruit beverage. This fruit, from the Amazon palm tree, has long been a staple of the Brazilian diet. Now it is getting some big play all across the world.
The claims are that acai could lower cholesterol, help slow down the aging process, and help older gents in the bedroom. What we know for sure is that the acai is jammed full of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants believed to protect the body from disease, and one of the big reasons why many berries, fruits and wines are so healthy. Acai also contains a slew of vitamins and minerals, as well as enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids, and fiber.
Acai juice is so readily available in Brazil that they drink around one liter a day. Acai is a typical breakfast food, eaten with tapioca and sugar. Aside from juice, it’s found in popsicles, desserts, ice cream and now, of course, supplements. It tastes like berries mixed with chocolate.
Acai has a long history as a folk medicine. For instance, the seeds of the fruit can be ground in to yield green oil. Over the years, this has been a herbal treatment for tuberculosis. Tea made from roasted seeds has been used to bring down a fever. Tea made with the root of the tree could be a remedy for anemia and jaundice. And tea made with the fruit’s rind (grated) is used on the skin to help heal ulcers and other wounds.
The folk remedies seemingly never end. The fruit’s antibacterial nature has turned it into a topical treatment. Boiled-up root has been used to fight a variety of problems including kidney disease, menstrual pain, hepatitis, diabetes, and malaria.
What you can definitely use acai juice for is an antioxidant kick. Acai has been found to hold 30 times the level of flavonoids that red wine does. It is also believed to be more easily absorbed than most other berries. Of acai’s biggest claims — against heart disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections, premature aging, etc. — one has a bit of proof behind it. That would be cancer; leukemia, in particular. A 2006 study found that antioxidants in the fruit actually triggered cell death in leukemia cells. The researchers here also confirmed the vast antioxidant power of the acai fruit.
If you want to incorporate this Brazilian super-food in your diet, look for juices and frozen pulp in supermarkets and health stores. About four ounces is a good place to start. You can find powder as well: mix one ounce of it with 10 ounces water and drink one or two times a day. Finally, freeze-dried acai is available as a supplement. Follow package directions, with a common recommendation being around one or two grams a day.