Red, White and Açaí: Superfoods of the Rainforestby Sabrina, Posted July 4th, 2012 Tweet
Açaí berry tart
By Addie Rowe
You’ve seen it in smoothies, yogurts, and juices. You’re probably not sure how to pronounce it. You’ve likely heard a friend talk about all the antioxidants this fruit packs. They probably can’t pronounce it either.
The Açaí berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a dark reddish purple berry from the Açaí palm found in the Amazon Rainforest. This “superfruit” is touted for being an anti-inflammatory, and it has 11 times the antioxidants found in blueberries. While it’s currently the trendiest exotic superfruit, the Açaí berry definitely isn’t the Amazon’s only one.
A “superfruit” gains its title by possessing above average health benefits and antioxidants. They are typically unusual and exotic fruits, and many are hidden throughout the Amazon Rainforest.
Even the Açaí berry’s powers pale in comparison to those of the Camu camu berry. The Vitamin C concentration in this berry is 50 times greater than that of an orange. It’s clearly a go-to fruit for a healthy immune system. Not only that, but it also acts as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory and moisturizer. This berry definitely gives household staples like orange juice, aspirin, and body lotion a run for their money.
Because the Camu camu berry grows in the Amazon Rainforest, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, few Americans can experience this berry at its most nutritious state. Some of the health benefits can be salvaged in a powdered form, but this berry will seldom be served fresh in the U.S.
For the benefits of improved brain function, lowered blood pressure, a heightened immune system and healthier hair, people should choose Cupuaçu, a member of the cocoa family.
Known as the “food of the gods,” Cupuaçu is oblong, brown and fuzzy, resembling an overgrown kiwi. Its white pulp smells like pineapple and chocolate and can be found in ice cream, jams, and other desserts. People also obtain its benefits in the forms of heath pills and smoothies.
Cocoa beans, the main ingredient in chocolate, give candy lovers an excuse to indulge. These beans from the cacao plant have more antioxidant flavonoids than red wine, green tea, and blueberries. Unprocessed chocolate has been found to raise serotonin levels (acting as an anti-depressant) and stimulate the secretion of endorphins (creating a “runner’s high” effect).
Açaí berries, camu camu berries, cupuaçu, and cacao beans all boast extraordinary super powers. With thriving rainforest habitats we can continue to enjoy these superfoods, as South Americans have been for centuries. Who knew saving the rainforest could be so nutritious?