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Acai palm is part of the Arecaceae family and its binominal name is Euterpe oleracea. Acai is a species of the palm tree that is native to the rainforests of South America. Acai palm produces a berry that is a superfood most commonly used to help a variety of health concerns as well as provide antioxidants to the body. Acai palms are tall and slender trees that grow 15-30 meters long with pinnate leaves up to 3 meters long (“Acai Palm”, n.d.). Recently, the global demand for this fruit has increased acai berry has been named the #1 Superfruit.


Arecaceae Family

Arecaceae or Palmae family contains around 2,600 species that are most often found in tropical, subtropical and temperate climates. Arecaceae is a family of flowering plants and can sometimes be refereed to as palm tree. This family can be distinguished by the large evergreen leaves that are organized at the top of the stem. However, palms are also very diverse not only in physical characteristics but are also found in a variety of habitats not only mentioned above. The Arecaceae family is one of the cultivated plant families and has been very important to humans throughout history due to the products and common food that are found on this tree and also the their exotic appearance (“Arcaceae”, n.d.).
Important Members of the Arecaceae Family
Humans use of this family started back during the Mesopotamian people with the date palm. The date palm was important due to its ability to provide energy food that could easily be stored for traveling, provide shade and protection, and also produced products for agricultural production. Some other useful palms include the coconut palm and the areca palm. The coconut palm is important in the same way s the date palm was mentioned above, but to those living in the Indian and Pacific oceans. A very common ingredient in the kitchen is palm oil that is an edible vegetable oil produced by oil palms (“Palm”, n.d.)


Distinguishing Characteristics of the Arecaceae Family
Some distinguishing characteristics of this family are that they usually have a tall columnar trunk with large leaves. The trunk develops a bud at a leaf node usually near the base where a new shoot will emerge (“Arecaceae”, n.d.). These trees contain large leaves that are usually either fan-leaved (palmately) or feather-leaved (pinnately). The flowers that are produced are generally white and small that exemplify radially symmetry. The petals contain about three per flower. Arecaceae are monocots due to their height and size of their seeds (“Arecaceae”, n.d.).


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Geographic Distribution of the Acai
from the Brazilian Amazon have been consuming acai for decades. Acai originated in the Amazon rainforests and acai is now found in Central and South America, from Belize to Brazil and Peru (“Acai”, n.d.). Acai is mainly found in swamps and floodplains throughout these countries.


Use and Efficiency

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How is Acai used?
The Acai’smain use is to be harvested and main use is to be harvested and consumed. In northern Brazil, acai is served with tapioca and is made either salty or sweet. In southern Brazil, acai is commonly eaten with granola in a bowl also an ice cream or juice flavor. In the United States, acai is mostly marketed in the beverage sector, as a juice or also sold within smoothies or mixed juices purchased out. Aside from the food and beverage uses, acai leaves can be used to make hats, mats, baskets, brooms, and even roof thatches for homes. The trunks of the acai palm is also important for extracting minerals.
The acai seeds can also be food for livestock or even a part of soil for plants.

What is acai used to treat?
Acai contains one of the highest antioxidants counts in food. Antioxidants help to fight harmful radicals that are naturally produced by the human body everyday. Antioxidants are known to make you feel and look younger and is one of the main reasons acai ha become so popular. Also, due to the strong antioxidant count in acai, this fruit may help to prevent cancer since antioxidants are currently one of the best ways to reduce the chances. Acai also contains essential omega fatty acids that help reduce joint pain and also improves cognitive abilities. The omega fatty acids also helps to prevent diabetes and heart disease. This is because the acai will lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, the combination of antioxidants, fatty acids, fiber, and amino acids allow acai to act as a supplement for healthy weight loss. Acai is able to suppress the appetite and increase one’s metabolism (“Acai Berry”, n.d.).


What is acai active compounds?

Acai consists of high protein, dietary fiber, and omega three fatty acids. Additionally, there are multiple vitamins and minerals that include vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin A, amino acids, and potassium (“Acai Palm”, n.d.).

Proof that it works? How good is the evidence?
As of August 2011, there have been no scientifically monitored or controlled studies that support the health benefits from consuming acai. Also, there have been no acai products that have been evaluated in the USA by the FDA. Therefore, there has not been enough scientific research to prove that acai can positively provide health benefits ("Acai Palm", n.d.).


No known side effects of consuming acai berry.

References

Acai Palm. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2012 from the Acai Palm Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A7a%C3%AD_palm

Arecaceae (n.d.) Retrieved January 11, 2012 from the Arecaceae Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecaceae

Palm (n.d.), Retrieved January 11, 2012 from the Palm New World Encyclopedia: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Arecaceae

Acai Berry (n.d.) Retrieved January 11, 2012 from: http://the-acai-fruit.com/