The acai berry, a South American fruit, is being incorporated into the menus of Provo juice bars, food trucks and smoothie venues.
Acai berries have had different uses over the centuries, according to Euro Botanicals’ website. The Shuar Tribe, a tribe in the Amazon region, was one of the first to use acai, according to Euro Botanicals. They originally used the berries for medicinal purposes.
Euro Botanicals’ website explains that the berries are found on 65-foot leafy palm trees in the Amazon, on the side that borders Brazil. The site suggests that the low count of heart disease among Mediterranean populations can be attributed to the acai berry because it can “build the immune system, fight infection and protect the heart.”
The berry also has major benefits that appeal to young adults. Contributor to the Dr. Oz show Lindsey Duncan said the berry provides energy when consumed regularly, quickens the metabolism, slows down the aging process, contains more protein than an egg and eliminates toxins from the body. It can also help the texture and growth of hair, skin and nails, Duncan said.
“I think people are shifting towards becoming more health conscious,” said Tyler Norris, founder of Soulr Cart, an acai bowl food cart. “The acai berry is a form of delicious clean energy that ultimately can alter your mind, body and soul in a positive way.”
Provo vendors, including Ivie Juice Bar, Jamba Juice and Bom Acai, have incorporated the superfood into their menu with acai bowls —a mixture of frozen blended acai berry, almond juice, fruits, nuts and honey. The trend seems to be catching on, because another store featuring acai bowls, Bowl of Heaven, will open this summer.
“Acai bowls are great because they are all natural,” said Nancy Gonsalves, Ivie Juice Bar employee. “The only sweetener in it is in the granola, and that’s honey. It’s fun to have a treat and feel like you’re putting healthy things in your body.”
Some Provo residents have substituted treats or desserts for the acai bowl, including Katie Hunter.
“I love acai bowls because it feels like I am eating a delicious treat, but they are actually really good for you,” Hunter said. “It’s a treat without the guilt, so I don’t have to compromise.”
However, acai bowls are not the truest form of the acai berry. A true acai berry tasting can only be experienced in the Amazon rainforest or in Brazil, because the fruit only has a shelf life of a day or so, explained Euro Botanicals. The berries can only make their way into America (without becoming spoiled) by being drained to a pulp and then frozen.
Acai berry puree can also be purchased at local health food stores. Duncan warned that many acai-based juices have sugary preservatives, so reading the label before purchasing the berry puree is recommended.