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Acai Palm

The acai palm tree is one of the many palm trees native to Central and South America.  It grows best in swampy areas and floodplains, which makes the Amazon Rainforest a perfect place for it to prosper.  These tall, slender palms are approximately 25 meters (80 feet) tall and contain leaves, which feather out, that are around 3 meters long.  There are clusters of 700 to 900 fruit per tree.  Each piece of fruit, which is about the size and shape of a grape, is mostly seed.  A large seed fills most of the piece of fruit.  The seed is about 7-10 mm in diameter.  The acai palm flowers throughout the year and is usually harvested between July and December.    

The most common use, as of late, is of the acai berry.  The acai palm tree is known as “the Tree of Life” because of the abundance of food it provides for the local inhabitants.  The berry’s juice and pulp are frequently used in various beverages and juices.  It has become a popular additive for health drinks in Europe and North America because of its benefits, though the Brazilians who drink this by the gallons do not think of it as a health drink.  In Brazil, the traditional drink includes mixing the pulp with water and sugar.  That is it.  The consistency of acai can vary from the water-like mixture to a solid, sorbet-like mixture.  The fruit and the pulp are a very dark purple and are commonly associated with blueberries because of their size and benefits.  Some of the benefits of the acai berry include being high in fiber, proteins, fatty acids, antioxidants and anthocyanins.  They also have a number of vitamins and minerals.  Several research studies are currently in process to evaluate the many uses and benefits of the acai berry.    

The acai palm tree has a number of uses, which extend past the popular uses of the berry.  A growing trend is to use the acai trees for their “palm hearts”.  The heart of palm, which is also known as a palm heart, palmito, or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable that is harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees.  France is one of the largest consumers of the palm hearts, which are costly by nature.  To harvest a palm heart, you must cut down a young palm and remove the bark, leaving layers of white fibers around a center core.  Once the layers of fiber are removed, you will find the heart of palm.  Palm hearts can be eaten as a salad, sometimes called “Millionaire’s Salad” or as a steamed dish.  

Another use of the acai palm is to use the leaves of the tree for weaving and basket making.  The wood from the tree is used for constructing homes in the Amazon.  In many areas, acai palm trees are planted in community gardens because of their multiple uses.  Brazilian herbal medicine also uses the oil of the fruit to treat diarrhea.  The fruit can also be used medicinally to treat jaundice, build the blood, and treat fevers.  Grated fruit rinds are used to wash skin ulcers.  These are only some of the uses that have been created from the acai palm tree.  Many more are being discovered by the locals who use these plants on a daily basis.  With the popularity of this plant around Brazil, and the new found popularity in other parts of the country, it is only time before uses for the acai palm tree make it unbeatable.   

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.