Acai is a delicious dark purple berry resembling a blueberry native to the Amazon rainforest, the most bio-diverse ecosystem in the world. The taste is usually described as a rich combination of blueberries and dark chocolate. It has been consumed by the indigenous people for centuries and remains the staple of the diet in the region. The Berry (actually a stone fruit) grows in large bunches, up to 900 at a time, at the top of slender acai-palm trees, which are 25 feet tall. Since Acai is very perishable, the unprocessed fruit must be processed within 24 hours of the harvest and only the regions bordering the Amazon have benefited from acai over the last few decades.
The popularity of Acai began to rise when it was discovered that in order to retain its nutritional value it should be frozen shortly after processing. It was brought to the city of Rio de Janeiro by North Brazilians from the Amazon region in the ‘ 70 and ‘ 80 and began to be consumed as a natural source of energy. For the people in Rio, known for their very active and healthy lifestyle, Acai was the perfect ingredient. Around this time, another Amazonebes called Guaraná, which was used for many decades as a natural energy booster, was used with the frozen acai to create the famous acai-bowl (“Açaí na Tigela”): a delicious and healthy combination of frozen Acai’s, Guaraná, fresh fruit and muesli. This style of Acai quickly became very popular with amateur and professional athletes, surfers and body-conscious. By the mid-90, Acai was a solid part of Rio’s beach culture, where every bar, gym and beach stand drove a robust trade. Nowadays, acai is eaten and consumed everywhere in Brazil and its consumption is a part of Brazilian culture. It is even known as ‘ Natures Viagra ‘ in some parts of the country.
Now the science behind this magical little berry – it contains a high content of essential fatty acids (especially Omega 3), it has a higher concentration of antioxidants than other popular berries such as cranberries or blueberries, and is also rich in fiber, Minerals and vitamins (especially calcium and vitamin E). Acai is very poor in sugar, so it will not change blood sugar levels and is an excellent source of dietary fiber and natural energy.