What Is Açaí Berry?

Açaí berries, which grow on Amazonian palm trees in Brazil, are highly nutritious berries that have a rich, almost chocolaty, taste. They were once the center of an aggressive marketing campaign, and profited from an endorsement from Oprah and a claim by Dr. Perricone that they are one of the top 10 anti-aging foods in the world — an extreme statement  that seemed like an exaggeration to some skeptics. To set the record straight: açaí berries are healthy. Will they cure various health problems? Probably not. But you're better off eating an açaí bowl — a mix of puréed açaí berries, fruits, and cereals — than a bag of Chex Mix.

In The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden writes, "Açaí berries are rich in antioxidants, as well as flavonoids that have high antioxidant activity, can reduce inflammation, and protect blood vessels and the nervous system, including the brain." The dark purple berry also has a rich diversity of polyphenols, plant compounds that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. An anonymous source who has ties with some marketing companies told Bowden that while açaí berries show a lot of promise — there is still much research left to be done in terms of its properties — it would be a stretch to assume it contains components you can't find in other vegetables, fruits, tea, and even wine.

Açaí berries make a great addition to smoothies, as in this açaí and beet smoothie, as well as summery ice pops. So-called superfood or not, the best part about these healthy berries is that they are filling and delicious.