Brazil is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of açaí. It has always been a fruit widely consumed in the regions where it is produced, such as Maranhão, Pará, Amapá, Acre and Rondônia.
However, due to the fame of the benefits, consumption spread across the country. Today, it is not difficult to find a place that sells açaí and its extensive list of combinations.
There are many fans of the fruit, addicted to its flavor and benefits, others, not very close, interestingly, compare its flavor to the taste of earth.
In the following text, we will discuss the benefits of the fruit, how to consume it and when its consumption is bad. Good reading!
Index – in this article you will find the following information:
- What is açaí?
- Nutritional value
- How is it consumed?
- Acai oil
- Acai fattening?
- Benefits of açaí
- How to calculate the calories in the açaí bowl?
- Where to find and in which products?
- Are there any contraindications?
- The legend of açaí
- Common questions
Açaí is a typical Brazilian fruit, originating in the Amazon region. It is usually consumed in its pasty form, as if it were a kind of ‘ice cream’ made with its pulp.
Its name is of Tupi origin, yasai ‘, which means “weeping fruit”, a reference to the juice that the fruit releases when it is being pulped.
The popular bowl açaí is a mixture of frozen pulp and guarana syrup. This mixture, which normally receives other supplements, is a less healthy version of the fruit, but it is widely consumed today.
It is also a favorite food for people who play sports and gym goers, as it has a high energy value.
It can be consumed in different ways and has several benefits. It is also a fruit explored in vitamins , supplements and beauty products.
Açaí has several benefits due to its antioxidant effect, being anti-inflammatory and acting as a reinforcement for the immune responses of our organism.
To be consumed, açaí before undergoes a process to be pulped, which can be done by machines or manually. Before that, it needs to be soaked in water for this process to be easier and for it to mix in the water. The result is a consistent juice, also known as açaí wine.
The açaí tree is the tree that produces the açaí, it is a species of palm very common in the Amazon region. In addition to Brazil, the açaí tree is also present in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Venezuela.
This tree, in addition to producing açaí, is also used to trade other products. With leaves, for example, it is possible to make mats, hats, straw brooms, roofs and handmade baskets.
The trunk wood, resistant to the presence of pests, can be used for civil construction or for the production of minerals, after being processed.
In addition to the leaves of the wood, the seeds can be used for handicrafts and the heart of palm is consumed as a delicacy.
Although purple açaí is the most popular, it is not the only type of this fruit. There are others with different colors and flavors. Are they:
Purple or black acai berry
It is the best known type of açaí, being the most consumed. It is native to the north of the country, mainly in Pará. It is similar to jabuticaba, apparently, as it has a much darker color.
It is more common in the Amazon region of Peru, presenting a stronger flavor than purple açaí. It requires much greater care in harvesting and refrigeration. Bunches of this type are much larger than purple açaí and that’s why it gets its name, because açú means big açaí.
It may be known, in some places, as solitary açaí. In Tocantins, açaí açu is produced in winter, in the off-season of purple açaí.
The difference of this type of açaí to others is in the shape of the bunch, where it has several branches.
Acai ox blood
The açaí blood of ox receives this name because its color is a very strong red. The taste distances itself from the taste of the purple açaí and its consistency too, being more pasty.
It is a very small type of açaí, with weight and up to 1 gram in each fruit. Its color, however, can be white or purple.
White açaí or açaí tinga
This type of açaí is also common in the state of Pará, but it is rarer than the purple açaí. Because it is difficult to find, the price is usually higher than other types. Despite the name, the skin and pulp are green.
Pure açaí has a number of beneficial properties for health, despite its high energy value. Check the nutritional values of the fruit, considering 100g:
- Energy value: 247 Kcal;
- Proteins: 13g;
- Lipids: 17g;
- Fibers: 17g;
- Simple sugars: 1.5g;
- Potassium: 932 mg;
- Magnesium: 174 mg;
- Phosphorus: 124 mg;
- Calcium: 286 mg;
- Glycidiums: 1.5g;
- Ferro: 1,5 µg;
- Vitamin A: 146 IU;
- Vitamina C: 0,01 mg;
- Vitamina B1: 11,8 µg;
- Vitamina B2: 0,32 µg;
- Vitamin B3: 1738 µg;
- Vitamina B5: 1389 µg;
- Vitamina B6: 257 µg;
- Vitamin E: 2.07 µg;
- Vitamina K: 20 µg.
Açaí is consumed in different ways and combinations, which can vary according to the region. It is considered a versatile fruit within the cuisine, as it can compose sweet and savory dishes or be served as juice.
In the north and northeast, in general, açaí is consumed together with manioc flour or tapioca. It can also be prepared as a mush, to accompany roasted fish or shrimp.
It is common to hear from açaí consumers in this region that this consumption is the right or original way, and that mixtures in the south, southeast and midwest regions are a variation.
Açaí in these regions is consumed in its creamy state and mixed with guaraná syrup. But do not stop there, people can choose supplements such as bananas , strawberries, oats and granola or add more caloric ingredients such as condensed milk, paçoca, powdered milk, mousses etc.
Açaí oil is one of the possible uses that the fruit allows. Unlike pulp and juice, the oil has a color closer to dark green.
The smell, after extraction, is considered unpleasant, but after refining, it changes. It can be for external and internal use.
It can be used in cooking, for seasoning salads and other dishes, in the same way as olive oil is used, not suitable for frying.
It is also used for cosmetic purposes, being used in the manufacture of products such as moisturizing creams, hair products and soaps.
Its antioxidant concentration is one of the attractions of the products. Because it is rich in essential fatty acids, it ends up being 33 times more antioxidant than the grape , a fruit that is also famous for this benefit.
Most products are already marketed with the oil in its composition, but for those who want to add to a cream they already have at home, the indicated amount is 5ml of açaí oil to 250ml of body moisturizer.
Products with an astringent function, which remove oil and impurities from the skin, and those with an emollient action, which moisturize and repair more dry skin, should be applied, preferably, during the night.
In addition to preventing aging, açaí oil also has an anti-inflammatory action, which is used in cosmetics and medicinal products.
It is contraindicated in cases of people who already have problems with excessive skin oiliness and acne. For those who want to add oil to hair products, care must be the same. When in large quantities, it can leave the hair more oily. The recommended is 2 to 5 drops.
Açaí is an energy food rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins. Its consumption, however, raises many doubts in relation to weight gain, as pure weight is already considered very caloric.
When consumed in a moderate way, açaí can help you lose weight. It pure has several beneficial properties for health and one of them is the feeling of satiety.
But just as he can be an ally within a balanced diet, he can become a villain. Açaí pulp is usually sold mixed with guaraná syrup.
The addition of this ingredient makes it sweeter, which ultimately raises insulin levels in the body, stimulating fat synthesis.
In addition to syrup, when we add ingredients such as paçoca, powdered milk, condensed milk, chocolate, confetti and other treats, it is no longer good for weight control, as it becomes an extremely caloric food.
A 500 gram açaí bowl with banana, for example, has approximately 700 calories. With other more caloric items, such as those mentioned, this value increases significantly.
However, açaí does not need to be seen as a villain, as it alone should not make you fat. Other factors are considered, such as the additions themselves, the amount eaten, the person’s other eating habits, amount of exercise and quality of life.
Açaí can be a good option for people who practice physical exercises, for consumption before training, as it is a good source of energy and can help performance during activities.
Moderately, açaí is good for you. It pure or with healthy combinations is the best option for those who do not want to put on weight, what counts is the common sense added to the other habits mentioned.
The consumption of açaí can bring some benefits to our health. One of its main actions is due to its antioxidant power .
The açai pulp contains antioxidants that act against some types of free radicals, such as superoxide and peroxyl radicals. The seed also has antioxidant properties, however, it is not yet possible to confirm whether its consumption is safe in relation to its toxicity.
The action of antioxidant foods in the body promotes several benefits, such as healthy aging. Thus, the consumption of açaí can help to inhibit the action of free radicals, responsible for causing the early death of cells.
When the human body is unable to neutralize the excessive production of these radicals, it is more susceptible to the appearance of cardiovascular diseases, cataracts , obesity , neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive decline, immune disorders and some types of cancer .
The stress oxidative also causes damage to the DNA structures, macromolecules and organelles, such as mitochondria, the cells responsible for energy through cellular respiration.
The main antioxidants present in açaí are anthocyanins, proanthocyanidin and flavonoids. Other benefits that açaí provides include:
Improvement of the immune system
It strengthens the immune system because the antioxidants present in the fruit act against the action of oxidative stress that invading microorganisms and toxins cause. This benefit is also due to the presence of vitamin C and omega 9.
Thus, it increases the body’s ability to defend itself against infections by viruses, bacteria and fungi.
Helps to fight anemia
Because it is a food rich in iron and other essential nutrients, açaí can be used to fight anemia .
This benefit occurs as a result of the action of antioxidants, since the anti-phlogistic properties present in açaí are able to reduce tissue damage. In addition, the lipid composition present in the fruit can also interfere with inflammatory processes and interfere with the perception of pain.
Reduces the risks of some types of cancer
The polyphenolic fractions of the açaí pulp have the ability to help reduce the proliferation of HL-60 leukemic cells. This discovery happened in studies carried out in vitro. In rats that had cancer of the esophagus, the pulp of açaí also had an action in the reduction of cancer cells and in the size of the tumors.
It is a source of energy
Pure açaí is a highly energetic food. Pure, it is considered a healthy source of energy and can be an option for a meal before training.
Can prevent Alzheimer’s
The antioxidants present in açaí help to preserve the health of cells, as they inhibit the action of free radicals. Anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins protect nerve cells from degenerative and inflammatory processes, factors that can favor the collapse of brain tissue.
Prevents heart disease
Açaí contains anthocyanin, a substance responsible for the purple color of the fruit. In addition to coloring, it is responsible for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which help in fighting free radicals.
Thus, it protects the body from cardiovascular diseases, as it inhibits oxidative stress and prevents early cell death.
The moderate consumption of açaí, when added to a balanced diet, helps to balance the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol.
Although açaí has a high fat content, they are good fats for health, being monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, also found in avocado.
Helps control type 2 diabetes and obesity
The polyphenols present in this fruit, according to clinical studies, can help to reduce the risk of obesity when associated with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes .
Foods rich in antioxidants can favor lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis, reducing the risk of complications from chronic disease.
It is good for skin and hair
Acai is good for skin health because it helps prevent cell aging. Not only as food, açaí can help beauty when in its oil version, present in products such as moisturizers for skin and hair.
It is a source of fibers
Açaí is a good food for those who suffer from intestinal problems as it is a source of fiber. So it can help to relieve constipation . Because of this, it also provides greater satiety.
The amount of calories present in the bowl açaí can vary widely. Only pure açaí, in an amount of 200g, can present 130 calories. With guarana syrup, the number of calories makes a big jump, going to 320 calories.
These numbers, however, may vary, as the concentration of açaí and syrup may change according to the marketed açaí.
To get a sense of the amount of calories in a bowl you also need to know how many calories the additional ones have. Therefore, if you are on a diet and do not want to overdo it, it will be necessary to calculate the supplements.
We list the approximate amount of calories of some of the most common side dishes, considering with measure a tablespoon:
- Banana (1 unit): 100Kcal;
- Oats: 70Kcal;
- Granola: 60Kcal;
- Mel: 62Kcal;
- Paçoca: 76Kcal;
- Chestnut: 84Kcal;
- Condensed milk: 85Kcal;
- Powdered milk: 84Kcal;
- Chocolate sauce: 95Kcal;
- Sucrilhos: 55Kcal.
Açaí can be prepared in several ways. The most traditional is that it is prepared with its pulp mixed with guaraná syrup and silver banana. Several other complements emerge from this mixture.
The healthiest way to consume it is with healthy side dishes. Here are some options:
Açaí with granola
The ingredients are:
- 200g of açaí pulp (ready for consumption);
- 100mL of guarana syrup;
- 100mL of water;
- 1 dwarf banana;
- 1 spoon of granola.
To prepare, just beat the açaí, water, banana and guarana in a blender until you get a homogeneous mass. Then place it in a container and take it to the refrigerator, in the freezer or freezer.
When consuming, just mix the granola. It is also possible to add honey and natural yogurt to this recipe.
This milk shake is very simple and can be an option to take before or after training. The ingredients are:
- 250g of açaí pulp;
- 1 glass of cow or almond milk.
The method of preparation is just to beat these two ingredients in a blender and then take them. In place of milk, one option is to substitute 200g Greek yogurt.
Grilled Chicken With Acai Sauce
Those who prefer açaí in combinations of savory dishes may like this option for lunch or dinner. The ingredients for this dish are:
- 4 tablespoons of açaí pulp;
- 4 boneless fringe breast fillets;
- ½ cup (tea) of vegetable broth;
- 1 teaspoon of white wine;
- 4 tablespoons of light curd;
- 1 tablespoon of corn starch;
- Salt, black pepper and thyme to taste.
First, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In sequence, place a non-stick frying pan to heat and then grill the fillets. When both sides of the fillets are in place, remove and set aside.
For the sauce, mix the wine, the vegetable broth and the cornstarch and put it in the frying pan. Then add the açaí pulp and wait for it to thicken. When it is fuller, add the light curd, stir well and turn off the heat. It is ready to accompany the grilled fillets.
The ingredients to prepare the açaí coconut are:
- 1 large ripe coconut (or 2 medium);
- 2 cups of açaí.
Grate the coconut and measure the same amount of sugar to be equivalent to the grated coconut. Then, bring these two ingredients to the fire and wait for it to boil.
When it is boiling, add the açaí and let it cook until the bottom of the pan appears, just as it is done to find the right spot for the brigadeiro.
When finished, remove from the pan and pour into a container such as a serving dish or a cake pan. Wait to cool and cut the size of a coconut.
Açaí is a super fruit, as it is used in several products and has several benefits. Finding açaí is not difficult, currently. There are several chains that market only this type of product.
Depending on the region, as seen, the way it is consumed changes. Today, açaí in a bowl is very popular and you don’t have to look far to find where it sells.
However, açaí can also be found in supermarket chains, where the pulp is sold in pots. Other food products such as chewing gum, energy drinks, popsicles, açaí flour, ice cream, juices, cereal bars and other products use açaí as a base.
It is possible to find açaí in supplements and vitamins, and it is also common in alcoholic beverages, such as vodkas, wines, tequila and catuaba .
In the cosmetics area, açaí is present in several products, such as conditioner, shampoo, body moisturizers, hair moisturizers, soap, hair oils, lipstick, exfoliants, nail polish, and lip moisturizer.
In addition to the fear of gaining weight, some people are afraid to consume açaí because of a possible risk of Chagas disease.
Chagas disease is caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi . It can be caused by contact with the barber’s feces, skin or orally. The symptoms of this disease are fever , swelling and heart problems that can lead to death.
The suspicion that there was a relationship between the consumption of açaí and the number of cases of this pathology has existed since 2006, where 430 cases of the disease were registered in Pará. They found, at the time, that the consumption of açaí was common among all patients and the Ministry of Health decided to investigate.
Thus, he asked researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the Energy and Nuclear Research Institute (Ipen) to seek to understand these cases.
The study showed that the protozoan that causes the disease is able to survive in the pulp of açaí either at room temperature or even at temperatures of -20ºC, when frozen.
However, even knowing that the protozoan can survive in açaí even in very low temperatures, it is not necessary to avoid açaí. Chagas disease is related to poor hygiene and this is not considered a factor directly associated with açaí.
Açaí is contaminated when a barber or his feces are mixed with the pulp of the fruit during processing. To avoid this risk, it is always recommended to ensure that the açaí consumed is marketed or produced in places with a Health Surveillance certificate.
In industrialized açaí, the risk is eliminated, as the protozoan cannot survive the washing and pasteurization process.
In general, açaí does not have contraindications. However, it should be consumed in a moderate way, just like any other food.
It may happen that some people have an allergy or intolerance to the fruit or oil. In such cases, it is recommended to do a test before consuming. Initially, it should be consumed in small quantities.
The discovery of açaí and the origin of its name are also present in Brazilian folklore, with the legend of Iaçá (or Iaçã).
The legend presents some variations, but in all of them the principle is the same. According to folklore, it was in the Itaki tribe, in Belém do Pará, that the fruit was discovered. The context, however, was not at all happy.
According to the story, the Itaki people were going through a sad period of food shortages. Without finding another way out, chief Itaki decided that children born from then on would be sacrificed, so that the elders would not be short of food.
For a time, the chief’s cruel decision prevailed, until his daughter, Iaçá, gave birth to a girl. The child, however, was also not spared.
For days, Iaçá wept for the loss of his daughter and, cloistered and mourning in his hut, asked Tupã to show Chief Itaki a different way of helping his people, ending the sacrifices.
One night, Iaçá heard the cry of a child and left the hollow to see who it came from. When he left, he found his daughter smiling, beside a palm tree. He hugged her, but shortly afterwards, his daughter disappeared.
Desolate, Iaçá died, beside the palm tree, from crying so much. The next day, his body was found. According to legend, Iaçá was still smiling and hugging the trunk of the palm
His eyes pointed to the top of the tree and looked at the fruit of the foot, which was loaded. Chief Itaki asked the other Indians to pick the fruit and from that day on, his people started to feed on the fruit and the children were no longer sacrificed. The name açaí, from Iaçá on the contrary, was given in honor of her daughter.
Know some of the main doubts about açaí.
Does açaí have a lot of fat?
Yes , açaí is a food with significant amounts of fat, most of which are monounsaturated and unsaturated. However, they are fats that are good for the heart and help balance cholesterol levels.
Because it is high in fat, some people fear the consumption of açaí because they do not want to put on weight. However, as described in the topic on the subject, pure açaí is not fattening, but when mixed and full of caloric combinations, it becomes a problem.
What is the recommended amount?
There is no consensus regarding the amount of açaí that can be consumed daily. In regions where fruit is more common, such as in the state of Pará, people tend to consume the fruit more often and in greater quantities, but usually as juice or as a complement to other meals, such as pirão.
To find out if your consumption is being exaggerated or not, seek advice from a nutritionist. Thus, he will be able to assess the amounts consumed and if it is within his daily nutritional needs.
Should I consume açaí before or after training?
Açaí is a fruit that has carbohydrates and several benefits for those who practice physical activities. It can help prevent injuries, increase strength and performance.
What determines the best time to take açaí is the goal of each person. For example, those looking for an energetic food, to improve performance, have made better use of açaí before training. In such cases, it should be consumed 30 minutes before physical exercise.
On the other hand, if the goal is to gain muscle mass, açaí may be more advantageous after training.
Very popular in the Amazon region, açaí is a fruit that provides several benefits. Today, it is not consumed exclusively in one way or only in one region.
As açaí bowl, accompanied by other dishes such as pirão, as oil to season salads or in beauty products, açaí is suitable for all people.
In this text we seek to discuss the main benefits of this superfruit. Tell us about how you consume it and what your favorite combinations are. Thanks for reading!