The açaí palm, Euterpe oleracea, is a species of palm tree (Arecaceae) cultivated for its fruit (açaí berries, or simply açaí), hearts of palm (a vegetable), leaves, and trunk wood. Global demand for the fruit expanded rapidly in the 21st century and so the tree is cultivated for that purpose primarily. The species is native to Brazil, Peru, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, mainly in swamps and floodplains. Açaí palms are tall, slender trees growing to more than 25 m (82 ft) tall, with pinnate leaves up to 3 m (9.8 ft) long. The fruit is small, round, and black-purple in color. The fruit became a staple food in floodplain areas around the 18th century, but its consumption in urban areas and recognition as a health food only began in the mid 1990s along with the popularization of other Amazonian fruits outside the region.
One of the most delicious members of the superfood squad. Açaí is best known for being the not-so-secret ingredient in picture-perfect smoothie bowls, but there’s more to these berries than just their good looks. The seed takes up about 80% of the berry, but the flesh and skin pack plenty of vitamins and other nutrients in the remaining 20%. Not to mention the berries are only about 70 calories a cup.
Like other berries, açaí are packed with antioxidants that can help build up your immune system and protect your cells against damage from free radicals. Full of fiber, açaí berries not only help make your trips to the bathroom more regular, but also help keep you full and your blood sugar steady. Also, it might seem like a diet rich in fish, nuts, and avocados is the only way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, but açaí berries are also a great source. Eating lots of these heart-healthy fats can lower your risk of coronary heart disease and improve your cholesterol. And for last, High in calcium, açaí berries will help keep your bones, heart, muscles, and nerves strong and healthy.