Açaí: Where to find this Brazilian ‘superfood’ in Manhattan

Acai bowls with different toppings alternatives are offered at AeroJuice. All bowls are made with natural acai berries and fresh products. (Gabriela Faraone | Collegian Media Group)

You have likely seen the word “açaí” floating around the health world. One quick trip to a Whole Foods and you’ll find this mystery berry implemented into everything. So what exactly is it?

The story behind the açaí berry

The açaí (pronounced AH-SIGH-EE) berry is a Brazilian “superfood” that has a long historical importance. The açaí fruit grows easily across thousands of acres along the Amazon River and has been a staple in the diet of the region’s people, the Ribeirinhos or “river people,” since before recorded history.

To this population, it is believed that a meal is not complete without açaí to the extent that the phrase “Without açaí, I’m still hungry” has become common within the Ribeirinhos community.

The harvest of this fruit has its own ritual. The Ribeirinhos scale 50 feet up into a palm tree barefoot with a machete in hand, chopping off the berry clusters and sliding down the palm tree with the fruit.

Then, it’s time to rub off its pit and ground it into a fine pulp, keeping the healthy properties of the food intact and ready for public consumption.

Health benefits of this “superfood”

It is known as a “superfood” because of the many health properties it has, such as helping combat arthritis, weight loss, high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction, while also improving skin appearance and general health.

They are low in sugar and contain high amounts of iron, calcium, fiber and vitamins. They are a high source of flavonoids that defend the body against harmful free radicals and contain beneficial fatty acids such as oleic acid.

Where to get some açaí

AeroJuice, located in downtown Manhattan at 106 S. 4th St., offers açaí bowls along with other healthy alternatives. The eatery’s açaí bowls use 100 percent of the natural fruit, which means there are no unnecessary additives.