by Sarah Andert
Acai berries, pronounced like ah-sigh-eeee, are one of nature's best-kept berry secrets. Exported from the Brazilian rainforest, these Amazonian berries contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants available in any fruit or vegetable. Researchers predict that the high levels of antioxidants and other similar compounds may be valuable in the prevention of damage by free radicals, cancer, diabetes, chronic inflammation, heart and
vascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and other types of neurodegeneration, high blood cholesterol, stroke, bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, age-related visual deterioration and premature aging.
"The acai berries are grown near the equator so the sun beats down on them hotter and stronger than anywhere in the world," says Catherine Wilbert, doctor of naturopathic medicine and founder of Vitality Juice, Java & Smoothie Bar. "So when we eat those things we get more of that protection that is inherently there for their protection."
Acai berries have long been a part of the Brazilian diet, and are harvested from the acai tree, a type of palm, without harming the tree itself. They're slowly making their way into the American market and are gaining increased popularity among nutrition and health food stores. They are seasonal, but can be purchased in frozen pureed packets or in other smoothie and health shakes.
For more information visit one of the Vitality Juice, Java & Smoothie bar locations citywide, or visit them online at www.vitalityjuice.com