National Nutrition Week: What are Acai berries, how to make acai bowls and can acai berries fight Covid-19
National Nutrition Week: Acai berries are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the body and are also known to aid weight loss, reduce bad cholesterol, and promote a healthy heart.Updated: Sep 01, 2020, 16:31 IST
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berries are one of the healthiest berry varieties in the world along with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and others. They are about 1-inch (2.5-cm) round that grow on acai palms in the Amazon rainforests. Their dark purple skin and yellow flesh cover a large seed, while the pits are similar to those of apricots and olives.
Technically acai berries are drupes but are still considered a part of the berry family. They are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the body and are also known to aid weight loss, reduce bad cholesterol, and promote a healthy heart.
Acai berries are usually soaked to soften their outer skin and mashed to form a dark purple paste. The shelf-life of fresh Acai berries is a small window, hence these are largely exported in puréed or powder form to add to meals, smoothies and more.
However, one must exercise caution when buying the canned pulp off the shelves at the supermarket as these might contain high levels of sugar used as preservatives, which in turn is counter-productive if you’re looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle. a pre-processed pulp, check the ingredient label and make sure it doesn’t have added ingredients.
Acai berries are also used in health supplements for added health benefits and to promote holistic health, improve immunity and also aid in fighting other lifestyle diseases including diabetes.
How to make an acai bowl?
Blend unsweetened frozen acai purée with water or milk and make a smoothie-like base to be used as toppings. Other sliced fruits and berries, chia seeds can also be added to make a healthy acai bowl recipe.
Granola or cereal can be used as a base too, however, do check its nutritional value and the calories count before going ahead with one.
Acai bowls can also be made using acai powder by blending it with a smoothie recipe.
Are acai berries used in beauty products?
According to WebMD.com, “Some cosmetics and beauty products include acai oil because of its antioxidants. Acai oil may be a safe alternative to other tropical oils used in beauty products, such as facial and body creams, anti-aging skin therapies, shampoos, and conditioners. When acai oil is processed and stored long-term, the antioxidant levels remain high.”
Acai berries against Covid-19
Canadian researchers are investigating the acai berry, a popular superfood, as a treatment to prevent Covid-19’s most severe symptoms.
University of Toronto scientists Michael Farkouh and Ana Andreazza, who have studied the berry’s effect on inflammation responses for nearly five years, are researching how it can be used to fight Covid-19.
“It’s a long shot,” Farkouh told AFP. “But acai berries are cheap and easily accessible for everyone, as well as safe, so it was worth trying.”
The duo enrolled around 580 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus in Canada and Brazil, where the berry is natively grown. Results of the 30-day study are expected to be released at the end of 2020.