What Is Açai? What the Cool Berry Can (and Can't) Do for Your Health May Surprise You

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The açai berry has had some bad press in years past. It was long touted as a metabolism booster that can help your body burn fat at a faster pace, which led to the Federal Trade Commission shutting down a company in Phoenix that was selling the berry in several forms and charging consumers without their knowledge, according to NBC News. However, the berry's reputation has been unfairly tarnished by such companies attempting to use it for marketing ploys. Ultimately, like other berries, it has a plethora of health benefits for consumers.

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Açai berries are rich in antioxidants, which fight harmful molecules in the body that can ultimately give people a multitude of medical problems, including heart disease, according to Everyday Health. Interestingly, the antioxidant properties are, in part, the result of the dark pigmentation of the berry, which is responsible for the benefits. As a result, foods like the açai berry — and other berries with a similar, dark pigmentation — are a good addition to one's diet. 

Similarly, the berry possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can also combat health problems such as heart disease and strokes, according to Everyday Health. "Many of the over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work on the same pathway as the acai berry," Valencia Porter, director of women's health at the Chopra Center, said, according to Everyday Health. 

However, while the berry does hold these health benefits, there are no conclusive studies that demonstrate that the berry can aid with weight loss, according to WebMD. "The jury's still out on whether there is something special about acai's ability to help shed excess pounds," David Kiefer wrote for WebMD. Rather, like many kinds of fruit, it's an essential part of one's diet, and can certainly be eaten without any averse side effects. 

As such, açai berries have become an increasingly trendy, healthy form of food. Most recently, the açai bowl has become a popular breakfast item, which essentially works as a smoothie-type substance that you can eat with a spoon. Unlike the weight loss scam, though, the açai bowls are the real deal, so long as it's combined with similar, healthy ingredients. 

"Açai berries have an impressive nutritional profile thanks to the abundance of vitamins, key minerals and 'good' fats in the berry," Lauretta Ihonor wrote for Health Trend Doctor. "The so-called superfood also has notable amounts of filling protein and fiber, making it a great breakfast food."

Check out some admittedly gorgeous looking recipes to create an açai bowl below:  

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