Acai Berries, Acai Pulp, and Freeze Dried AcaiPowder

Acai Palm is native to tropical Central and South America, from Belize south to Brazil and Peru, growing mainly in floodplains and swamps. Acai palm are tall, slender, attractive palms growing to 15-30 meters, with pinnate leaves up to 3 meters long. The acai fruit (acai berries) is a small, round, black-purple drupe about 1 inch in diameter, similar in appearance and size to a grape but with less pulp. Acai berry is produced in branched panicles of 700 to 900 fruits. Acai berries are produced twice a year. The acai berry has a single large seed about 710 mm in diameter. The exocarp of the ripe fruits is a deep purple color, or green, depending on the kind of acai and its maturity. The mesocarp is pulpy and thin, with a consistent thickness of 1 mm or less. It surrounds the voluminous and hard endocarp which contains a seed with a diminutive embryo and abundant endosperm. The seed makes up about 80% of the fruit.

The Acai berries are also harvested as food. In the Amazon region of Brazil, acai palm was described as the most important plant species because the fruit makes up such a major component of diet (up to 42% of the total food intake by weight). The juice and pulp of acai berries are frequently used in various juice blends, smoothies, sodas, and other beverages. In northern Brazil, acai is traditionally served in cuias with tapioca and sometimes sugar. Acai has become a fad in southern Brazil where it is consumed cold as acai na tigela. As acai deteriorates rapidly after harvest, its raw material is generally only available outside the immediate growing region as juice or acai pulp that has been frozen, dried, or freeze-dried.

Acai berry is thought to have the highest antioxidant value of any food, thanks to a high level of anthocyanins. Researchers believe acai has five times more antioxidants than blueberry. Acai is becoming increasingly available in beverage form at health-food stores.

There are many different ways to eat acai berries. Brazilians drink acai in sweetened juices, which are now in U.S. supermarkets in a variety of blends with more familiar fruits (banana, raspberry, etc.). But not everyone who is health-and-wellness focused wants to add all that sweetened juice to their daily intake (the same is true with cocoa and chocolate, even at 70% cacao).

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