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Sep 20 2017
by Jamie Su

How to Reap the Benefits of Acai in College

By Jamie Su - Sep 20 2017

Having poor eating habits is concerning yet common, especially when you're living the life of a busy student or working young adult. With fast food being more tempting and the preparation of healthy foods being "too much work," eating healthy can be a difficult task. However, it is pivotal to prioritize our health and take care of our bodies in the long run. If you're someone who's looking to get fit, don't fret! It isn't too late to change your diet and reach your optimal fitness and health levels. Though the road to a healthy lifestyle is tough, starting off with small changes to your diet can prove beneficial. 

One easy way busy people can spice up their diet is by adding the fruit acai to their meals. Acai (pronounced as "ah-sigh-ee") is a tasty berry used in many colourful, inspiring and trending food bowls on Instagram. Through ongoing research, evidence shows that incorporating acai into your daily meals may provide several health benefits. That being said, acai can be a healthy addition to your diet and can help you start a better lifestyle. 

What is acai?

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Acai is a dark purple berry harvested from Euterpe oleracea, which are acai palm trees that originated in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. This fruit contains pulp that can be eaten raw or used in food and beverages. In recent years, acai berries have become a popular, healthy food trend used today in picturesque acai bowls and smoothies on social media.

What are the health benefits?

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According to WebMD, several studies show that acai fruit pulp potentially contains more antioxidants than berries such as cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. A study published on PubMed that investigated the effect acai functional beverages had on high-intensity physical training determined that the beverage enhanced cardiorespiratory responses in its participants and improved their physical performance. Another study conducted had 23 male participants consume a breakfast high in fat, in conjunction with either an acai-based smoothie or a macronutrient-matched control smoothie. Participants who consumed the acai-based smoothie demonstrated improvements in vascular function, which may, in turn, decrease their risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Despite these studies more research is needed to prove that acai berries possess these health benefits. 

Because the ever-so-popular acai berries are considered a superfood, misinformation about the miraculous yet untrue health benefits of this berry have spread. To dispel these false claims, we must remember that our health is determined by both our diet and physical activity. Adding one fruit to your diet will not drastically change your weight, health or physique, but it can be a step towards eating healthier foods and maintaining a better diet. 

How to incorporate delicious acai recipes into your daily meals:

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It may seem like a hassle adding a new food to your diet, but eating acai is quite simple. All you need is a blender to create the palatable pulp. You can either purchase it in puree packets or in powder form. All other ingredients are things you can easily find at home or at your local grocery store! Introducing acai berries to your diet can help you make a positive change to your lifestyle, which in turn motivates you to improve your quality of life.

Besides having acai bowls, you can also make acai smoothies for breakfast, a pre-workout or a post-workout snack. Some acai smoothie recipes you can try are acai matcha smoothiestrawberry acai smoothieoat berry acai smoothieraspberry, strawberry and banana smoothie and mango orange acai smoothieThis is the perfect time to get creative with your bowl or shake! If you're looking for an extra boost, add some protein powder or peanut butter to your mixture. Substitute and incorporate ingredients based on your diet, allergies and personal preferences.

Acai is a delicious fruit that can prompt you in the direction of a nutritious and nourishing lifestyle if you eat it in moderation. It should not solely be relied on for weight loss or health benefits, as other foods in the Food Pyramid as well as exercise, play a huge role in your overall fitness and health. Don't forget to consult your doctor, dietician and nutritionist before you try this fruit to discuss your food allergies, food restrictions and concerns of whether adding acai berries to your diet would be beneficial to your health. To ensure that we live healthfully, it's important to be smart consumers who are aware of the health effects that the food we consume has on our bodies.

Lead Image Credit: Jannis Brandt via Unsplash

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Jamie Su - University of Waterloo

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