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Yesterday, my self-care practice was treating myself to a breakfast acai bowl at the farmers’ market. My mouth watered as I watched it being made. It all started with a layer of granola. Then, berries and bananas were arranged neatly atop the purple acai smoothie layer. And finally, shredded coconut was sprinkled on top.
Acai, or the Amazonian palm berry, is a small purple berry about the size of a grape that grows in Central and South America. It’s commonly marketed as an exceptional source of antioxidants, along with a number of other health claims ranging from improved mental function to higher levels of energy.
But the research is limited, to say the least. The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes that “there is no definitive evidence that acai has any special health benefits.” Notice they didn’t say there are no health benefits associated with the berries, just that there isn’t anything particularly “special” about them.
Sorry delicious little berries. No offense.
We often get so enamored with exotic foods that we fail to see the ones growing in our own backyard. There are plenty of equally interesting berries native to North America. Salal berries, for example, were a staple of the Salish American Indian tribe, and right now they are growing along the fence line in my backyard.
Just because something grows in a South American rain forest doesn’t make it more or less nutritious than other foods that grow elsewhere.
But all that aside, I still enjoy exotic berries every now and then.