Açaí is the Ultimate Smoothie Bowl Ingredient, But Why Is It So Good For You? (Plus, Brands and Recipes)

In recent years, açaí berries, which are small, grape-like fruits, have earned the coveted title of “superfood.” There is no real scientific definition for a “superfood,” but generally, it is accepted to mean that a food is, well, super good for you. So with their nutrient-dense profile, there’s no doubt that açaí berries fit the brief. And this has driven them to become a new favorite across the US. In fact, in 2022, the açaí berry market was valued at more than $6 billion, and by 2029, it could exceed $13 billion. But what can açaí berries do for our health? And how, exactly, do you eat them? Let’s dive in.

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What is açaí?

Açaí (which is pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a small, dark purple drupe that grows on palm trees in the rainforests of Central and South America, primarily in the Amazon region. Indigenous people have long eaten fresh açaí, which is soaked and mashed to form a dark paste, but because of the fruit’s tendency to degrade very quickly after harvesting, you’ll usually find them in powdered, puréed, or frozen form in the US. One of the most popular ways to consume açaí, which has a sweet yet earthy taste, is in a smoothie bowl—the frozen pulp of the berries is blended with other fruits and toppings such as granola, nuts, and seeds.

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Is açaí good for you?

Açaí berries are nutrient-dense and low in sugar. They are a source of everything from fiber to healthy fats to vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium. But one of their biggest benefits is their antioxidant content. They are a particularly good source of anthocyanins, for example. These antioxidants are thought to neutralize potentially harmful free radicals in the body, which may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

Some studies have suggested that the plant compounds in açaí may help to reduce cholesterol, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and even protect the brain from damage associated with aging.

“One of the ways in which the brain stays healthy is by cleaning up cells that are toxic or no longer working, a process known as autophagy,” Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, writes for Healthline. “It makes way for new nerves to form, enhancing communication between brain cells. As you age, this process works less efficiently. However, in lab tests, acai extract has helped stimulate this ‘housekeeping’ response in brain cells.”

It’s important to note, however, that further research into these benefits of açaí berries is still required. “While the initial research is promising, studies on its effects on human health have been small and scarce,” adds Jennings.

Where to buy açaí: 5 products to check out 

As noted above, you can’t buy fresh açaí berries in stores in the US. But you can find it in various formats, including powders, juices, and purées. Find out more below.

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1Kos Organic Açaí Powder

This Kos Organic açaí powder is perfect for smoothie-lovers. It’s rich in delicious sweet, earthy açaí flavor, and tastes delicious with ingredients like blueberry, chocolate, banana, strawberry, hemp seeds, and dairy-free vanilla yogurt.
Check it out

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2 Especial Fruits Açaí Berry Purées

With its smooth, creamy texture, another great option for smoothies and smoothie bowls is an açaí purée, like this option from Especial Fruits. All of the brand’s berries are tree-ripened, responsibly sourced, and processed at the peak of freshness.
Check it out

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3 Amayu Açaí Super Fruit Juice

Juice brand Amayu is committed to protecting biodiversity, fighting deforestation, and supporting indigenous communities. Its juices, including its açaí super fruit flavor, are sustainably sourced from the Peruvian Amazon.
Check it out

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4 Sambazon Organic Açaí Berry Sorbet

If you don’t feel like whipping up an açaí bowl or a smoothie, keep one of these sorbets from Sambazon’s on hand in the freezer. It’s quick, convenient, and delicious when combined with more fresh berries, seeds, and nuts.
Check it out

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5 Force Factor Açaí Soft Chews

According to supplement brand Force Factor, another way to reap the benefits of açaí is to consume one of its soft chews every day. “Made with premium acai powder, every delicious acai berry soft chew is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your daily health and wellness,” notes the brand.
Check it out

Vegan recipes with açaí 

If you’re wondering about the best way to prepare açaí, check out some of our favorite recipes below.

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1Vegan Superfood PB+J Açaí Bowl With Berry-Chia Jam

This creamy, tasty bowl recipe features a delicious, nourishing mix of frozen açaí, nut butter, and homemade raw granola. Rich in nutrients and flavor, it’s the perfect breakfast, brunch, or lunchtime treat.
Get the recipe

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2 Vegan Chocolate Açaí Coconut Smoothie With Kale and Blueberries

Combine protein-rich almond butter and chocolaty almond milk for an irresistible, dreamy dessert-like smoothie that is packed with goodness. With its nourishing mix of açaí, kale, blueberries, and coconut, it’s a superfood-lovers dream.
Get the recipe

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3 Banana and Açaí Ice Cream

Want to enjoy ice cream for breakfast? Check out this super wholesome vegan recipe, which is packed with nutrient-rich frozen bananas, açaí pulp, sweetener, and vanilla. It’s sweet and creamy enough to taste like dessert, but it’s also a nutritious way to start the day.
Get the recipe

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4 No Bake Açaí Maqui Berry Bars

A fusion of acai and maqui berry powder, these delicious gluten-free bars are creamy and refreshing. They make for the perfect healthy dessert—without any need for baking.
Get the recipe

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5 Açaí Cheesecake

Cheesecake fans will love this healthy and delicious twist on the classic indulgent dessert. It’s fruity, nutrient-dense, and super creamy thanks to the addition of coconut cream and soaked macadamias.
Get the recipe

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