If you haven’t heard of the acai craze sweeping the nation (commonly mispronounced, say “Ah-Sigh-EE”), it’s time to check out this “newly discovered” superfood. Although it has been a staple in the South American diet for hundreds of years, Americans are now being inundated with a multitude of acai berry products to choose from including pills, powders, drinks, smoothies, and the popular “acai bowl,” heaped with sliced bananas, blueberries or mango, granola and a generous drizzle of honey.
The debate surrounding this fruit centers around whether it lives up to the hefty health claims experts advertise, resulting from its 19 amino acids, phytonutrients and fatty acids. It is also rich in B vitamins, vitamins A, D, and E, protein, fiber, and minerals including zinc, magnesium, and manganese -- making it a highly nutritious food, or as it has been dubbed, a “superfood.”
Acai, used by South Americans to cure everything from skin ulcers to fevers, has been heralded as a weight loss supplement and immune system booster. It is also thought to be a cure-all for lack of libido, prompting natives to call it the “Amazon Rainforest Viagra.” Testimonials support acai’s claim to increase energy and stamina, and it has long been used by Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters. Now top surfers like Kelly Slater and other champion athletes are including it as a part of their diet.
The rise in acai’s popularity has resulted in a huge number of scams, so beware of free trials for supplements, in particular. A safer and tastier bet is the acai bowl, a treat which you can savor guilt-free, knowing your body is appreciating the healthful benefits of this tiny berry.
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