The açaí fruit has become far more popular in recent years, due primarily to its promotion as a weight loss and health supplement. Unlike many of the other berries on this list, it’s normally not consumed fresh or raw. This is because the açaí palm trees are native to the floodplains and swamps of South American countries, primarily Brazil and Trinidad. Açaí fruit is a dietary staple for populations in the Brazilian Amazon.
Açaí berries are about the size of a pea and have a dark black-purple color when ripened. They contain a single large seed that makes up approximately 60-80 percent of the berry.
Once harvested, the berries are processed for their pulp, which is then supplied to retailers and food manufacturers in the form of frozen pulp or juice. Açaí pulp and juice are used as ingredients in dietary supplements, smoothies, grain alcohol, and other foods. It’s also used in some cosmetics.
Some studies have found açaí pulp to be richer in antioxidants than many other berries with high antioxidant content, including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cranberries. The pulp from açaí berries offers a great source for other vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, iron, calcium and fiber. The rich content of anthocyanin compounds and flavonoids help protect against harmful free radicals.
The health properties found in açaí berries help provide the following benefits:
- Reduces inflammation and arthritis
- Aids in weight loss and obesity treatment
- May help prevent erectile dysfunction
- Treats oxidative stress
- Helps detoxify the digestive system
- Supports balanced cholesterol levels
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Improves the health of cells
- Promotes healthy skin
- May reduce the risk of neurological diseases