It’s hard to turn a corner without running into a product or advertisement touting the amazing benefits of the Acai Berry. Pronounced ah-sigh-ee, the berry itself has been around thousands of years and consumed largely in the Amazon. This powerful berry finally made its way to mainstream culture in the 1990s. Today you can find acai berry in everything including soda, juice, granola and even chocolate. Along with the consumption of these scrumptious foods, is the promise of certain health benefits.
The benefits that make the ranks as the most popular include:
- improved cardiovascular health
- youthful skin
- better libido
- increased energy levels
- lower cholesterol
The real beauty of this berry is truly there, but mostly in its most unprocessed form. While foods that contain the acai berry may well be delicious, the fruit’s most powerful form is in the pulp. Harvested from the acai palm, a tree that grows 30 to 40 feet tall, the purple berry is filled with a large seed and is about the size of a grape. The pulp is then carefully extracted and sold. Because the berry does not stay fresh for very long, the pulp (and sometimes the berry itself) is frozen or freeze-dried before selling. That said, it’s a good idea for consumers to remember that processed versions of foods containing acai may not live up to the nutritional standards you (or your body) expects.
Using the acai berry from its frozen, freeze-dried or pulp forms in recipes, however, is becoming more and more popular than its processed counterpart. So what can you make with these delicious unprocessed acai products? The most popular way to add the pulp or puree is simply by blending it into a smoothie with your favorite fruit. You can find the pulp or puree in your local health foods store in the frozen food aisle. More often than not, the berry is sold in portioned packages. A brand I like is called Sambazon.
Here is a smoothie you can enjoy as a healthy breakfast or mid-day snack:
Protein-Packed Banana Acai Smoothie
Acai Pure – Sambazon , individually frozen or powder version
½ c. frozen blueberries (or more depending on your flavor for blueberries)
½ c. low fat organic plain yogurt
1 c. low fat organic milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
Simply combine all ingredients into a blender, mix and enjoy!