Acai (pronounced “ah-sigh-ee”) is a tiny berry that grows on the acai palm tree and is native to Central and South America. The flavor is sometimes described as a combination of red wine and chocolate.
When used in a green smoothie, acai is best used as an accent flavor to other tropical base fruits like banana and papaya (base fruits give smoothies a creamy texture). It also blends well with non-tropical fruits like apples, pears, red grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries and pomegranates.
Add cacao (raw chocolate) for a decadent, rich indulgence. Try young coconut in an acai smoothie too.
Acai Nutrition and Health Benefits
Acai berries are praised for their super high antioxidant content and possible disease-fighting phytonutrients. However, the wild claims from supplement makers that acai juice and powders can reverse diabetes, cure cancer, and promote weight loss are unfounded and overhyped.
When it comes to the antioxidant load of acai juices and powders, they are well within the range of other local fruits. Studies have shown that the juice from concord grapes and black cherries, as well as red wine, contained more polyphenol antioxidant content than acai juice.
Acai berries are low in sugar in their whole form which is good news for those of you on a low glycemic diet.
Top 6 Green Smoothie Recipes Using Acai
How (and Where) To Find Acai Berries
Unfortunately, for those of us who live in North America and Europe, acai berries are not available in the produce section. Instead, we have to rely on juices, extracts and powders, often sold in the supplement section of health food stores.
Since juices are not a whole food and powders are highly processed, the nutrient content of acai has been significantly altered and reduced in these products. The lack of nutritional potency and flavor you get from these altered products does not justify the high price you pay.
Because of this, I prefer to only purchase frozen acai puree for use in green smoothies. My brand of choice is Amafruits.com. Their acai is high quality and comes in 3.5 ounce (100 gram) packets. Simply take one out of the freezer and add it to your green smoothie. You’ll get a real serving of acai and a chilled smoothie all at once!
Browse more green smoothie recipes.
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.