What Is Açaí and Why Is Everyone Obsessed With It?

Let's start with how to pronounce it.

More From Superfoods
20 articles
easy energy boosters
21 Simple Ways to Boost Your Energy
eat-chocolate-like-dr-oz
15 Ways to Eat Chocolate Like the Superfood It Is
Antiaging Superfoods
9 Antiaging Superfoods for Skin and Hair

One of the most delicious members of the superfood squad — aka the cool kids of the food pyramid — is a fruit you've probably seen all over your Instagram feed. Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) 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.

Baskets full of açaí berries.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Superfood Qualities of Açaí

What is açaí, anyway? Found on açaí palm trees in South American rainforests, açaí berries are a lot like grapes. The seed takes up about 80 percent of the berry, but the flesh and skin pack plenty of vitamins and other nutrients in the remaining 20 percent. Not to mention the berries are only about 70 calories a cup.

1. Antioxidants

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.

More From Superfoods
20 articles
easy energy boosters
21 Simple Ways to Boost Your Energy
eat-chocolate-like-dr-oz
15 Ways to Eat Chocolate Like the Superfood It Is
Antiaging Superfoods
9 Antiaging Superfoods for Skin and Hair
low-fodmap-foods
31 of the Best Belly-Shrinking Foods
avocado chocolate by compartes
Avocado Chocolate Is Officially a Thing

2. Fiber

Full of fiber, açaí berries not only help make your trips to the bathroom regular and healthy, but also help keep you full and your blood sugar steady.

3. Heart-Healthy Fats

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. By eating a diet rich in these heart-healthy fats, you could lower your risk of coronary heart disease and improve your cholesterol.

4. Calcium

High in calcium, açaí berries will help keep your bones, heart, muscles, and nerves strong and healthy.

HEALTH CLAIMS OF AÇAÌ

Do these berries live up to their nickname "purple gold"? They are powerful, but don't depend on them to help fix your health ailments by themselves.

"Although lots of people eat these berries — amongst other foods — for their 'magical powers,' you're not going to find magic in one food," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It. "The magic comes from a diet that contains a variety of foods that work in concert with each other."

Açaí berries on an açaí palm tree.

1. Heart Disease

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables overall can help prevent heart disease.

2. Cancer

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but diets full of fruit, vegetables, and protein has been shown to help lower the risk of most cancers, says the American Cancer Society.

3. Weight-Loss

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, as well as exercising regularly, can help you lose weight.

4. Arthritis

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but all berries contain anthocyanins that have been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help ease the symptoms, says the Arthritis Foundation.

5. High Cholesterol

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but eating more fiber from fruit, vegetables, beans, and other sources can help lower cholesterol levels.

6. Erectile Dysfunction

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but researchers in a January 2016 study found eating berries in general might reduce men's risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED). In addition, being overweight can cause or make ED worse, says the Mayo Clinic. Eating a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables can help with weight-loss and hopefully aid in achieving a normal sex life again.

7. Anti-Aging

There's no proof with açaí berries specifically, but a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, protein, and healthy-fats can help with everything from acne to aging.

WHERE TO FIND AÇAÌ

Because açaí berries can spoil within a day, the best ways to buy them are frozen (we recommend Sambazon's superfruit packs) or in powdered form (like this one from Navitas Naturals).

More from Dr Oz The Good Life: