What Is Acai, Aside from a Pretty Picture on My Insta Feed? 

Acai is one of those things that has been around for quite a long time but a lot of people only learned about recently because they got captured by the algorithm. At least that’s what happened to me. I was scrolling Instagram one day through my usual feed of cute cats, chefs grilling steaks, and old men whittling bird feeders when all of the sudden I saw a fitness model eating something called an acai bowl. I stopped and gawked for a second and wondered why this person was eating a bowl of purple stuff for breakfast, but that second of stopping was enough for the algorithm to latch on, and soon my feed was all acai, all the time. So, what exactly is acai? What is acai made of? What does acai taste like? What are acai berries? And most importantly, how do you pronounce acai? Let’s find out!

What is acai? 

There is an acai palm that grows acai berries and those acai berries are used to make acai bowls. What are acai berries? They are small, one-inch round berries that grow on acai palms, in the rainforests of Central and South America. The berry is dark reddish-purple on the outside with yellow flesh and looks similar to a blueberry. About 80% of the inside is taken up by its big old seed. People in the Amazon have been eating acai berries for a long time. To make them edible, they soak them in liquid then mash them into a paste. 

Is acai good for you? 

Acai is a popular “superfood” with perceived health benefits. Acai berries are loaded with antioxidants that help your immune system and it is a great source of fiber. Acai also has heart-healthy fats that have been associated with improved cholesterol and lowered risk of heart disease. 

What is acai made of? 

Outside of Central and South America, most people consume acai that has been processed into a pulp and turned into a powder, puree, or juice. Some of these get exported as pure acai, but others have sweeteners or ingredients added to extend their shelf life. 

What does acai taste like? 

A lot of people eat acai as part of a bowl. Many of these acai bowls or smoothies have had sweeteners added, so, if you’re eating that kind of acai, you’ll probably describe the flavor as tropical and sweet. Acai berries (not bowls) are rather bitter, with hints of dark chocolate. The berries are high in omega fats which causes them to turn rancid rather quickly, so any berries not eaten within 24 hours after harvest are freeze-dried, frozen, or turned into a powder. That’s where the popular acai bowls and juices come in.

What is in an acai bowl? 

Acai bowls typically start with a base of frozen acai puree. From there, it really depends on the individual bowl and what you add to it. You can make it a pretty decadent treat with nut butter and fresh fruit and cacao nibs and matcha powder and chia seed pudding and chocolate rocks and—wait, you’re telling me that’s my topping limit? Fine. Or you can keep it simple with some sliced banana and almonds. 

How do you pronounce acai?

Probably most importantly, when you get to the front of the line to order, here’s how to pronounce acai: aa – sigh – eeee. Say it right, get a nice little bowl, then add your purple pic to Instagram so I can wonder why it’s on my feed.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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