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    Ask the Chef: Acai vs. Maqui Berry Powder | Navitas Life: Superfood Lifestyle Blog

    By Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef | October 20, 2014

    Q: What's the difference between acai berry powder versus maqui berry powder?

    A: Ah yes, you've likely noticed these two popular Navitas products have some undeniable similarities! Indeed, both are purple berries hailing from South America. Fresh out of the bag, they look similar too: both are very dark (almost black!) fine powders. But make no mistake, acai and maqui have some distinct differences that put them more in the family category of cousins rather than twins.

    Acai is local to regions of the Amazon in Brazil. Though it is considered a berry, acai doesn't grow on a bush like most berries, but rather on tall palm trees. Though it looks like a rounder, darker version of a blueberry on the outside, you can't simply bite into one - it has a huge pit on the inside, and it's only the succulent flesh surrounding this pit that is edible. Acai contains some minerals, such as calcium and iron, and is considered a top antioxidant food, with heaps of antioxidants called anthocyanins, that give acai its purple color. Acai has the unusual honor of also containing good amounts of healthy fats, like essential fatty acids and monosaturated fats (both of which contribute to great skin, and part of the reason why acai is often linked to “getting the glowâ€). Because of these fats, acai has a luxuriously smooth texture when blended with fruits or liquid. Its flavor is magnificent, with hints of berries, vanilla, and chocolate. As a true taste-sensation, acai is one of the favorite ingredients for health-giving smoothies, ice cream, and pudding. It's recommended not to cook with acai on high heat, or much of its nutrition will be compromised.

    Maqui, on the other hand, thrives in the Patagonian region of Chile, and is sometimes dubbed the “rainforest blueberry.†Like blueberries, maqui grows on shrubs, and is about the size of a pea when fresh. Like acai, maqui is also a deep purple, but this purple is so intense, it will turn everything purple that it touches! This colorful quality is actually a big clue to maqui's true claim to fame: antioxidants. Like acai, maqui contains primarily anthocyanin antioxidants, only much more! In fact, maqui is currently the number one ranked fruit in the world on the ORAC scale. Though it doesn't contain the healthy fats that acai does, maqui also offers some vitamins, such as vitamin C, making it great for the immune system and powerfully anti-aging. I find that the convenient powder form that Navitas offers, provides very little flavor, so it's quite easy to add into anything that's blended for an anti-aging boost. Salad dressings, drinks, and even syrups are just a few of the many things that excel with a maqui powder boost. Maqui should be consumed in unheated or low temperature recipes - the beautiful purple color that is a signal of its active antioxidant properties fades quickly when exposed to heat.

    There's definitely no “better†when it comes to acai versus maqui - both serve as a wonderful way to get antioxidants and a variety of nutrients into you diet, with flavor and color. Variety is always a cornerstone of a healthy diet, so why not switch ‘em up!