Best Sources for Acai: How to Choose
The only way to enjoy the true flavour and goodness of fresh Acai fruit is to live in the Amazon. Sorry, but that’s how it is. The reason is that when a fruit has fat content, it loses its freshness and begins to decay more quickly than other fruit with less fat. With an average fat content of of 30% to 50%, Fresh Acai berries start to decay within a day of being picked. This makes export of the fresh fruit impossible.
Therefore all the Acai products currently being sold are made with Acai berries that have been processed in some way. This sounds straightforward, but it’s not. Some processing is kinder to the Acai fruit and its active ingredients than others, which can mean that the Acai product you choose may have much less goodness than you’re led to expect, and fall short of being good value for money.
Spray Dried Acai
Spray-dried Acai fruit powder: The Acai berries are heated to a high temperature and all the water content is evaporated. Then the dried Acai residue is sprayed with a food additive such as maltodextrin, a starch derived from rice, potato or wheat.
Unfortunately the heating process destroys many of the nutrients that we actually value the Acai fruit for. There have also been reports of coeliac reactions in some people (due to the maltodextrin when it is wheat based) from the United States.
Typically a spray dried Acai supplement claiming to contain 500mg of Acai per capsule delivers only 300mg of actual Acai. Misleading and somewhat unsatisfactory.
Acai Fruit Extracts
The challenge with Acai fruit extracts is to conserve maximum goodness and potency of the active ingredients. As mentioned on previous pages, it’s the skin and pulp of the Acai fruit that hold the essential nutrients that make Acai a superfood.
A point to keep in mind is that although the term ‘extract’ sounds reassuring, it still means that the Acai berries have undergone some kind of selection and alteration. Some part of the fruit has been left out.
Types of Extract
There are two main types: Botanical Extracts and Standardized Extracts.
In most cases, Acai fruit extract would be a Botanical Extract.
Botanical Extracts are created by removing the non-beneficial parts of the plant in the laboratory, then processing to reach the desired ratio of actual plant processed to the finished product.
For example, 4:1 Acai means that four kilos of Acai fruit were processed to produce one kilo of finished powdered extract.
The implication is that 4:1 Acai is four times stronger than unprocessed Acai fruit.
This sounds good, but we have to ask what exactly (apart from water) has been left out in the extraction process. Remember also that botanical extracts are derived from spray-dried Acai which has already been heat treated, killing off even more nutrients.
Frozen Fruit Pulp
Frozen Acai fruit pulp is to date is the best way to process Acai fruit. The fruit is harvested, the skin and pulp removed and flash frozen within hours of picking. This process preserves the full synergy of antioxidants, essential and healthy fats, fibres and proteins found in Acai.
Freezing the Acai berry pulp is one of the best ways to transport the fruit to countries around the world. The frozen Acai pulp is then freeze dried and made into supplements.
Freeze dried products have a higher concentration of nutrients than other processes. This is because water content is removed safely and without loss, giving the rich pulp a higher concentration of nutrients than the raw fruit itself.
While 100 grams of fresh fruit has an ORAC score of 5,500, the same weight of freeze dried Acai has an ORAC score of 34,000.
Freeze dried Acai is the best way of enjoying full antioxidant and nutrient benefits of Acai fruit, the new Superfood. Unless of course you’re prepared to move to the Amazon!