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    Ask the Chef - What's So Great About Acai?

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | April 3, 2016

    What makes acai so great?

    Acai has become a bit of a poster child in the realm of superfoods, with many consumers and health experts alike touting it as one of the world's healthiest foods. This small berry, hailing from the rainforests of Brazil, has a unique flavor that boasts both berry and chocolate notes. In fresh form, it looks a bit like a shiny dark blueberry, but try to cut it in half and you'll instantly notice a difference: acai may have a succulent exterior layer (the fruit), but it encapsulates a large inedible seed on the inside - a little like a cherry.

    From a health perspective, acai is pretty wonderful. The berry is exceptionally rich in anti-aging antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, a class of flavonoids that have been shown to reduce inflammation and promote cardiovascular health. Additionally, acai is a good source of monosaturated fats - the same fats that make fruits like olives and avocados so exceptionally good for our skin, heart, and joints. Add in a high content of anti-aging vitamins like vitamin C, and a naturally low sugar content to promote a healthy weight, and it's easy to see why acai is often called a “beauty berry†- its nutrients really can help give us the “glow.â€

    Then there's the flavor: and believe me, you don't have to be a chef to get excited about this stuff. The unique chocolate-berry combination I mentioned above may not be sweet on its own, but when used in conjunction with other sweet foods, it really comes to life. Plus, those monosaturated fats we talked about also help give acai a bit of a creamy texture - one of the reasons why acai bowls are so popular, as they function much like a superfood ice cream.

    While you can buy acai as a drink, it's often heavily sweetened, and may not be your best option if you're trying to reduce your sugar intake. The unsweetened frozen packs are good to use for homemade ventures, but limited in their use to things like smoothies and acai bowls. Hands-down, my favorite form of acai is acai powder, which is pure, freeze-dried, organic acai without any added sugar or fillers! There's several reasons why I love this acai option so much: it's exceptionally shelf stable (read: it lasts a LONG time!), it's very inexpensive per serving (especially compared to other forms of acai), and the fact that it's a powder opens up the doors to so many different kinds of use. Beyond just smoothies and bowls, I like to whisk acai powder into jams and puddings, add it into recipes for raw treats like homemade energy bars, and even sprinkle it on top of finished recipes like salads or pilafs as an elegant finishing touch. This is a must-have ingredient for any superfood kitchen, with a wealth of healthy attributes, and infinite opportunities to enjoy its benefits.