This little fruit is conquering the world!
by Dora Souza
Açaí is a habit in Pará, fashionable among sports people in southeast Brazil, and is currently, little by little, promising health for the rest of the world, including here, in Canada.
Tiny, purple and delicate, as you look at it you can hardly guess you are before one of the most powerful fruits nature managed to invent. Amazon açaí has ten times as many antioxidants as red grape, three times as much as the ones found in blueberry and twice as much as in the famous pomegranate. Furthermore, it’s estimated that in 100 grams of açaí there might be 3.8 grams of proteins, 12.2 grams of lipids and 16.9 grams of fibre. And, for 247 calories, you can even get calcium, iron, phosphorus, as well as vitamins B1, B2, and C in the package. All of this, though, is only the beginning since scientists are still working their brains out on identifying all effects to be yielded by the 75 compounds found in açaí.
The fruit of a palm tree native to Amazon marsh, açaí has been part of north Brazilian people’s eating habits for centuries. Actually, in Pará, consumption of this fruit is double the consumption of milk. Over there, once harvested, açaí pulp is mixed with water for the production of a very thick juice which is then, traditionally, eaten with cassava flour. Or it is mixed with sugar to make a drink.
A delicate fruit
Açaí is extremely fragile and perishable, and so needs to be consumed immediately after harvesting. That is why it only started to be exported and used in other parts of Brazil after some producers began freezing the pulp as soon as it had been extracted. That happened in the late 1980’s when athletes and martial arts people made it quickly popular in southeast Brazil.
Being an energy-rich food, açaí started then to be consumed as a nutrition complement, the frozen pulp going into shakes or being served with sugar and cereals. From then on, its fame spread and nowadays it is normal to find this “modern” version of its consumption virtually all over the country.
About three years ago, the dark pulp of the fruit arrived in North America, including Canada, and soon after got quite a kick: the most famous TV presenter in the USA, Oprah Winfrey, cited açaí on her website, defining it as the number one superfood. Actually, after the discovery of the so-called “functional food” power, it became clear that açaí can be a top element in the search for a better physical condition, increased well-being and quality of life. It is our açaí, coming straight from a humble palm tree by the river, tiny and modest, yet ready to conquer the world, and, most likely, help people achieve better and better health.
Açaí in Canada
In Canada, the açaí pulp can be found in natural product shops, gourmet food shops and even in some gyms. With more and more studies pointing to the fantastic powers of açaí, the juice can be a quick and easy way of profiting from its innumerable benefits. In addition, Canadians will feel at home because açaí has a taste similar to that of a mix of blueberries and chocolate. One more reason why you should try it!