Acai and the Wonders of Perpendicular Sunlight
Around the year 1999, three young American guys were bumming around Brazil, learning about a colorful new country and getting the lay of the land. They noticed that the cities there had cute little acai stands, three or more to a block. The crazily popular berry was sold as a sort of frozen confection, the popular little stands doubling as small and bustling social centers, the locals enjoying their acai frappes and chatting each other up. The visiting yanks tasted the stuff and liked it, and even noticed that it seemed to provide a slight lift. They made some phone calls and found, to their mild surprise, the berry was virtually unknown in the U.S. and had, at any rate, not been parlayed into the commercial superfood juggernaut their inklings were beginning to suggest to them. At the time of their discovery of acai in its native land, the berry had only comparatively recently made its way into the Brazilian cities from the rain forest interior, by way of traders and urban migrants. Within a few years (and following some mild introductory turbulence), the young Americans—two brothers and a friend—were importing acai and beginning the tough legwork of getting the word out. When acai finally did get the sluggish attention of the U.S. health food crowd, the berry caught on like…well, you know.
A Loving Depth Charge
This exotic little package of goodness drops into the interior and unpacks a weird amount of goodness. Acai is, as it turns out, madly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, meaning it slams the free radicals that bring generally ruinous oxidative stress to your cellular foundation (a process know in some circles as “aging”), while taming the small inflammatory hot spots that can grow into four alarm fires like arthritis, arteriosclerosis, and lupus, to name but a few. This grape-like berry—it's a drupe, actually, but let's leave it at that—grows from the [wait for it] acai palm; a native of sub-tropical Central and South America.
Scientists believe the acai is so packed with potency because its eons-long homestead near the Earth’s equator has—for millions of years—made it a beneficiary of the most direct and perpendicular sunlight our planet receives. The electrolytes in acai (magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and manganese, okay?) help maintain the water balance in our sloshy bodies, which are about 60% water by volume. Monounsaturated fatty acids in acai help promote cardiovascular health while responsibly shepherding the blood lipids (if we may introduce that pastoral image), which would otherwise turn, through oxidation, into the waxy junk that clogs your pipes and has you clutching your chest over dinner. [Awkward. Oh, and lethal.] Up in the ol’ cranial vault, acai seems to have a suppressive effect on certain enzymes associated with neural slowdown, and offers mitigating shelter to nerve junctions in the brain; an area of acai research concerned with dementia and cognitive impairment.
Perhaps most significantly, acai contains about twice the amount of anthocyanins—a powerful antioxidant—of any other known food. This Amazonian berry has evolved in an incredibly lush growing environment where verdant soils, plentiful clean rains and a daily bath of brilliant sunshine—millions of years worth—have designed a fruit bearing pure natural dynamism. Acai is not a medicine, nor a miracle. It is the plain and potent confluence of Earth and Sun. That’s not magic; that’s the unstoppable dam burst of Life itself.