Acai berry in the market place can refer to the fruit itself or any variety of diet, supplement, detox or weight reduction products created from it. So what is acai berry really? In its most natural state, the acai berry is similar in appearance to raw cranberries, though it has a deeper, richer, dark purple skin, which can appear almost black in color in certain lighting.
Acai berries are the fruit of the acai tree, a palm found only in the Amazon. Specifically, the acai palm is native to Central and South America though the vast majority of acai berry products available on the market are harvested from Brazilian acai berry plants.
Although some efforts have been made to grow the acai berry palm outside of the Amazon, little progress has been made on obtaining a healthy harvest from other geographical regions of the world.
Amazon acai berry harvests have been occurring for centuries, with native populations utilizing the fruit in a variety of dietary, medicinal and other means. The fruit is still primarily harvested from naturally occurring acai tree populations, though some dedicated acai palm plantations have been established to feed the ever growing market for acai berries and acai products.
Acai fruit that is ready for harvesting either drops naturally from trees or is encouraged to do so by the shaking of acai palm trees. The fruit is then collected from the ground. Traditional harvesting methods are manual in nature, with agricultural workers collecting the fruit by hand. Technological harvesting includes the use of tree shaking machines, catching nets, and collection devices that suck fruit off of the ground utilizing a vacuum.
Acai berries can be processed in a number of ways. Flash freezing is the best method of preparing raw fruit for long term storage as it results in the least amount of deterioration of nutritional components. Heat is also often used to process acai fruit for foodstuffs and other consumer products. Heating does result in the loss of some nutritional components however, it is therefore a less preferred method of acai berry fruit preparation.
Acai berries are available as a fresh fruit, though in somewhat limited quantities outside of Central and South America due to harvesting and transportation challenges. More commonly, you will find frozen, liquid and other forms of acai berries in the U.S. market.
Dried acai berries and acai berry pulp are a few of the more popular acai products to be found in many grocery stores. Acai berry juice is also quite common and becoming more popular as more and more people become interested in the nutritional benefits of acai berries.
Acai berry extract, acai berry powder and similar products can be found in many local health food and supplement stores, as well as online. These acai berry products are typically used to make shakes and other health drinks and can also be used to supplement your diet through inclusion in baked goods and sweets.
Most sources agree that acai seeds should be discarded. Native consumption of Brazilian acai berry fruit typically consists of just the pulp and the skin, with seeds being discarded.
What has made acai berries so incredibly popular in a relatively short period of time is the documented study of the acai fruit’s nutritional benefits. Acai berry superfood status has been achieved, as the tiny Brazilian acai berry contains the same, or possibly even more, health benefits as similar fruits like blueberries and cranberries.
Acai antioxidant quantities are mostly the reason for its achievement of superfood status, though acai berry vitamins are also varied and high, making these tiny berries a powerhouse of positive nutrition. Acai berry nutritional facts are widely discussed in print and online media as well as popular daytime television programs.
Acai berries are extremely high in antioxidants and plant sterols. They additionally contain high quantities of essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, B Complex Vitamins, Vitamins C and E, in addition to magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper and zinc. Amazon acai berry also contains high concentrations of dietary fiber, protein, amino acids, and beneficial omega fats.