One of the newest members of the superfood squad - aka the cool kids of the food pyramid - is one you've most definitely seen all over your Instagram feed. Açaí, most notoriously known for being the not-so-secret ingredient in smoothie bowls across the globe, is just as nutritious as it is hard to pronounce. Here's what you should know about the raved-about berry.
How to Pronounce Açaí
First thing's first: Before you get to know this tropical fruit better than ever before, let's start with the basics - how to say it. First, take a deep breath because everything is going to be OK. Then say ah-sigh-EE. (Like you're sighing from relief because you finally know how to say the tricky word without making smoothie aficionados cringe.) And if you're still not sure, this video will help.
What in the World Is It?
If you've noticed a lack of fresh açaí at your local grocery store, there's a good reason for that. Açaí berries, which look very similar to blueberries, are native to South American and are mostly found in Brazil. Because they grow on a palm tree - the açaí palm, to be exact - they need tropical temperatures to thrive and often flourish in swampy areas.
Though they may look like blueberries, don't be fooled - biting into an açaí berry might leave you with a sore tooth. Crazy enough, açaí is mostly made up of a large, inedible seed that takes up 85-95 percent of the fruit. It's actually the pulp and skin around it that's packed with body-boosting components.
The Benefits of Açaí
The pulp and skin of the açaí berry is naturally packed with all the superfood qualities you hear so much about.
"The berries contain antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy fats," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It. There are claims that the berries help with everything from arthritis and weight-loss to erectile dysfunction and anti-aging, to name a few, but "not enough studies have been done to determine whether they're any better than other berries," continues Taub-Dix.
So, as for the berries being so-called "purple gold"? They are powerful little guys, but don't depend on them to help fix all your health ailments by themselves.
"Although lots of people eat these berries - amongst other foods - for their 'magical powers,' you're not going to find magic in one food," Taub-Dix says. "The magic comes from a diet that contains a variety of foods that work in concert with each other."
So for anyone who's hoping to lose weight or become a healthier individual in general, Taub-Dix recommends eating a healthful diet overall - açaí berries, included, if you want to splurge on the products.
Where to Find Açaí
Since açaí berries can spoil within a day and definitely won't last the shipping process from the Amazon Rainforest to the United States, the only real way to buy them is frozen (we recommend Sambazon's superfruit packs) or in powder form (like this one from Navitas Naturals).