The açai (ah-sigh-ee) palm tree grows in Central and South America, with a range that extends from Belize south to Brazil and Peru. The palm produces a small, deeppurple fruit that is one of the primary foodstuffs for native people living in the Amazon region of Brazil where it is harvested. Açai “berry”—actually a drupe—tastes like a mixture of berries and chocolate, and is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. It has ten times the anthocyanins of red wine. It also has a protein profile similar to egg whites.
At least one study has shown that chemical compounds extracted from the açai berry slow the proliferation of leukemia cells in laboratory cultures, and others have shown that it has a powerful effect against common oxygen free radicals. The açai fruit not only shows potential in cancer prevention, but also reduces inflammation, which has been implicated in heart and lung disease, allergies, and auto-immune disorders.
For a fruit, açai contains a relatively high proportion of fatty acids, including oleic, palmitic, and linoleic (an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid), as well as aspartic and glutamic amino acids, which contribute to building proteins.Nutritional Facts
One ounce of freeze-dried pulp provides 152 calories, 14 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g protein, 9 g fat, 13 g dietary fiber, 286 IU vitamin A, 74 mg calcium, 17 mg phosphorus, and 1.3 mg iron.