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Facts & Attributes
Q: How is açaí pronounced?A: The correct pronunciation of açaí is ah-sah-EE with the final ‘EE’ sound stressed. Many times you may also see the phonetic pronunciation ah-sigh-ee. However, the cedilla symbol (ç) in Brazilian Portuguese is simply a soft ‘c’ sound (like in city or cell) and should not contribute to changing the ‘ah’ sound that follows it to a long vowel ‘i’ (igh or eye) sound. If spoken quickly it can sound like ah-sigh-EE to those unfamiliar with Brazilian Portuguese.
Q: What is açaí? Where does it come from?A: Açaí is a highly nutritious palm berry that grows on a tall, thin palm in the Amazon flood plains. Açaí palms are mostly found growing wild along the riverbanks of the rainforest where the humidity and mineral content of the earth make for perfect growing conditions. The açaí palm can grow up to 80 feet tall. The açaí palm produces clusters of dark purple berries. Although similar in look and size of a large blueberry, the açaí berry is approximately 95% seed with only a thin oily skin. This dark purple skin possesses tremendous health properties and has been used by Amazon natives for centuries. However, it is not possible to eat the fruit itself because of its physical properties. Instead, the berry must be carefully processed into a puree. The most common way to eat açaí is consuming the fruit puree. In the Amazon, it is consumed daily in unsweetened puree form either as a small meal topped with tapioca flour or as a side dish in a bowl, often with fish or dried meat. In the rest of Brazil, it is more commonly consumed as a frozen puree in a bowl sweetened with guaraná syrup and topped with granola and other fruits.
Q: Why can’t I buy the Açaí berries?A: Açaí berries are more than 95% seed with the outer layers consisting of less than 5% of the berry. The açaí berries are highly perishable and lose most of their nutritional value within 24 hours after being harvested. For this reason, the açaí berries need to be immediately processed into a pulp after harvest by soaking in water and removing the seeds to form a puree. The puree is then flash pasteurized and frozen to seal in the wonderful flavor and maintain the nutritional integrity. In fact, it is not possible to eat the fruit itself because of its physical properties.
Q: Why is açaí called a superfruit or superfood?A: Açaí is one of the most efficient sources of nutrition in the food world. With 16 different types of antioxidants, a protein profile similar to an egg, high amounts of dietary fiber, and omega fatty acids (healthy fats that lower bad cholesterol), it is becoming obvious why the Amazon natives have cherished this berry for so many years. One bowl of açaí can have almost 50% of the recommended dietary fiber for a day. There are over 10 vitamins & minerals found in açaí such as vitamins A, B, C and E, along with calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc. The ORAC score (a common antioxidant measure) for açaí is almost 30 times that of blueberries. Among the antioxidants that açaí possesses, anthocyanins are truly one of the most important with açaí having one of the highest concentrations of anthocyanins among foods.
Q: What are antioxidants?A: There are a lot of different substances we call antioxidants, including many vitamins and minerals. However, not all antioxidants are created equal, and some of the most powerful antioxidants, anthocyanins and polyphenols are found in great abundance in acai. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by binding with them before they get a chance to harm your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the cells in your body. They are produced as a normal part of our metabolism and can come from many different sources such as stress, air pollution, alcohol, sunlight, smoke, pesticides, drugs and even fried food. Scientists have linked free radicals to many different types of diseases. So, consuming a diet rich in natural antioxidants, like those that come from fruits and vegetables, may help protect against free radical damage.
Q: What is ORAC?A: ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. ORAC measures the ability of substances to subdue oxygen free radicals in the test tube. In short, ORAC is a lab assay that can measure the antioxidant activity of any substance and give it a number. The higher the ORAC number - the stronger the antioxidant properties of the substance. The National Institute on Aging developed the ORAC method and the US Department of Agriculture and Brunswick Labs have been instrumental in perfecting the ORAC assay procedure and testing various foods to determine ORAC levels. The higher the ORAC level, the greater the antioxidant properties in a food.
Q: What is the recommended ORAC level per day?A: The USDA recommends we consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. In truth, 80% of the population is consuming less than 1,000 ORAC units a day. The USDA recommended "5-a-day" fruit and vegetable servings will give you an ORAC score of about 1,750 units. Fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest ORAC values. Per 100 grams - Apples score a 218, Bananas 221, blueberries 2,900. And açaí? An amazing 5,800 ORAC score.
Q: What are anthocyanins?A: Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that are a class of flavonoid compounds, which are widely distributed plant polyphenols. Anthocyanins give plants and fruits their beautiful pigmentation. This is why fruits with dark, colorful pigmentation tend to have the great ORAC values - they are loaded with anthocyanins. There is considerable evidence that dietary anthocyanins and polyphenols may have preventive and therapeutic roles in a number of human diseases. Through the much publicized “French paradox”, the public has become aware that certain populations of red-wine drinkers in France and Italy have much lower rates of coronary heart disease than their North American and Northern European counterparts. It is widely accepted that red wine phenolics contribute at least partly to this beneficial effect. A number of studies have shown that mortality from coronary heart disease is reduced in those with a higher intake of flavonoids in their diet. Flavonoids may also help prevent strokes and some flavonoids have been shown to inhibit tumor development. Anthocyanins have also been used for improving visual acuity and treating circulatory disorders. In addition, there is experimental evidence that certain anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties, and that orally administered anthocyanins are beneficial for treating diabetes and ulcers and may have antiviral and antimicrobial activities. The basis for these desirable properties of anthocyanins is believed to be related to their antioxidant capacity - their ability to trap free radicals that damage cellular molecules. Some people believe that eventually we will have a recommended minimum daily requirement for these dietary antioxidants. And, yes, you guessed it - açaí berries have a tremendous concentration of anthocyanins, almost 30 times more.
Q: How are Amafruits açaí purees like red wine in regard to antioxidants?A: You have probably heard that a glass of red wine everyday is good for the heart. This is due to anthocyanins in the grapes used to make red wine. Açaí is also very rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant substance that helps fight free radicals. The French have a diet very rich in cheese, coffee, nicotine, sugar and white flour. With this type of diet you would expect the French to have a very high rate of heart disease however, the exact opposite is true. The ability of the French to consume a heart clogging diet and yet have a very low rate of heart disease has been labeled the French Paradox. Researchers now believe anthocyanins are the reason for the "French Paradox." The French drink a significant amount of red wine and the red wine grape, due to its anthocyanins is what is believed to be responsible for the very low incidence of heart disease. While red wine has a good quantity of anthocyanins, the açaí berry has over 30 times the anthocyanins as red wine.
Q: Does açaí have fat in it?A: Let's face it - fat is not a pretty word. Most people would think that the phrase "fat and healthy" is an oxymoron. However, when you start talking about Omega fatty acids you realize that the right fats can be very healthy and beneficial. The three most common forms of Omega fatty acids are Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9. Significant research has shown numerous health benefits to a diet high in unsaturated omega fatty acids. In fact, on September 8, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave "qualified health claim" status to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, stating that supportive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Açaí is an excellent source of Omega fatty acids.
Q: Is açaí okay for diabetics?A: Yes. Pure açaí has no sugar at all. In fact, due to the high concentration of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins in açaí, it may actually provide nutritional support for diabetics. Anthocyanins are hypoglycemic agents which lower blood sugar levels and protect both large blood vessels and capillaries from oxidative damage. They prevent oxidative damage in the capillaries of the eye and extremities, the two most common complications of diabetes. The reason diabetics are sensitive to sugar in their food supply is because they cannot balance their sugar metabolism. Sugar is an oxidant and diabetics have too much of it circulating in their blood. Therefore, sugar is a source of oxidative stress. Diabetics deal poorly with blood sugar-induced oxidative stress and are taught to avoid ingesting it. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of anthocyanins have been proven useful in the fight against high blood sugar. Micro-blood vessel damage from high blood sugar levels causes most of the complications in diabetes. Collagen proteins become linked with sugars, resulting in scarring and blood vessel blockage. Anthocyanins protect fragile tissues from this type of vascular damage. Blood vessel damage can allow large blood-borne molecules to migrate out of the bloodstream and between the cells of surrounding tissues, causing edema and chronic inflammation of the soft tissues of the body. This situation is often painful to diabetics. Anthocyanins not only prevent capillaries from leaking in the first place, but they also help clean up the mess when they do. Amafruits recommends only our Pure & Unsweetened açaí purees for diabetics. Our Energy Mix is slightly sweetened with sugar and may not be appropriate for diabetics.
Amafruits açaí purees should be kept frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
Q: How long can I keep Amafruits açaí purees in the freezer?A: Amafruits açaí frozen puree packs retain their quality in the freezer for up to 5 years (per USDA guidelines) from the date of manufacture without losing nutritional values or flavor as long as they are kept frozen at 0 degrees. As with all frozen food products, if the product has not been stored at zero degrees Fahrenheit, freezer burn can occur. If the product has been subjected to several freeze/thaw cycles, the product’s overall texture and taste may be affected. Since there are no preservatives, Amafruits açaí purees should be kept frozen until consumed. Once thawed, you should keep them in the fridge and consume within a few days.
Q: What about the “best if used by” dates?A: Amafruits açaí frozen puree packs (per USDA guidelines) have a shelf life of over 5 years as long as they are kept frozen at 0 degrees. The "best by stamped date" found on the label of the puree packs, along with the Lot Code, is only 30 months after manufacture. It is stated as month and year, for example, AUG 2006. It is not an expirated date and it is completely safe to consume Amafruits açaí frozen puree packs after the stamped date as long as the packs have been kept frozen.
Q: What causes ice crystals to form on top of the product?A: Ice crystals occur naturally in frozen products. Excessive ice crystals (a snowy appearance) may result from fluctuations in storage temperature.
Q: After I thaw my Amafruits açaí frozen puree packs, can I refreeze them?A: Thawed açaí may be refrozen if not previously thawed for more than 1-2 days, or the acai may be kept in a refrigerator and used within 3-5 days.
Q: How are Amafruits açaí purees produced?A: Amafruits açaí purees are made with wild-harvested açaí berries from the Brazilian Amazon state of Para, a region known to grow the best tasting açaí. Our berries are handpicked by local cooperatives from açaí palms growing wild along the riverbanks of the Amazon rainforest. The actual fruit is about the size of a large blueberry with 95% consisting of a large inedible seed. The edible part is the outer skin and a thin layer of fruit. Soon after the açaí berries are harvested, they are quickly sent to a state-of-the-art facility where they are washed, soaked in water and carefully processed to remove the edible outer parts from the inedible seed in order to make the puree. Finally, the puree is flash pasteurized and quickly frozen to seal in the flavor and nutrition all within 12-18 hours of harvest.
Q: Why are Amafruits açaí purees pasteurized?A: The açaí berries used in Amafruits açaí purees are flash pasteurized in order to ensure a completely safe product without destroying flavor and nutritional content. As açaí is a nutrient-rich, low-acid food, and no pesticides are used on the wild-grown berries, there are naturally occurring bacteria and microorganisms present on the fruit's surface when harvested that need to be neutralized.
Q: Does pasteurization reduce the nutritional benefits of Amafruits açaí purees?A: Independent laboratory studies show that none of the important micro and macronutrients of açaí antioxidants, omega fats and fiber suffers any appreciable reduction from pasteurization. The reduction in heat-sensitive enzymes, on the other hand, is the price we have to pay to ensure that our product can safely withstand the long logistical process from the heart of the Amazon rainforest to your freezer without the help of preservatives.
Q: Do your products contain any allergens such as eggs, dairy, gluten, and nuts? Do your facilities process any of these things?A: No, all Amafruits açaí purees are egg, dairy, gluten and nut free; nor, are any eggs, dairy, gluten or nuts processed in the same facility as our açaí purees.
Q: Are there any traces of nuts in your products?A: There are no trace elements of nuts in Amafruits açaí purees.
Q: Why choose Amafruits frozen açaí purees?A: In the regions of Brazil where açaí trees grow, the puree is consumed fresh the same day it is harvested. Until very recently (1990's), it was only available in the Amazon regions where it grows. Now frozen açaí purees can be eaten all over the world as fresh as you will find in the Amazon. By freezing the açaí puree, all of the nutritional benefits and wonderful flavor are sealed in as fresh as the day it was harvested. Amafruits frozen açaí purees are the best tasting and most nutritional way to consume açaí.
Q: Why do Amafruits açaí purees taste so different from other açaí beverages and frozen packs?A: First, there are several varieties of açaí palms and several regions where açaí is harvested. Amafruits açaí purees use only the Euterpe oleracea species of açaí palm berries that have been selected from the Amazon state of Pará, the region known to have the best tasting and most nutritional açaí. In addition, some açaí products combine açaí with additives and inexpensive filler ingredients such as white grape, apple, pear and lime juice concentrates. The tart, "refreshing" taste that a lot of açaí products have in the US does not come from the açaí but from those filler juices and additives. Amafruits açaí is free of any such additives or filler juices and therefore maintains the unadulterated taste of real açaí - a velvety, dark-chocolaty taste that is both unique and delightful. Finally, some açaí products are made with reconstituted açaí powders instead of 100% pure açaí pulp like Amafruits açaí purees. Spray-dried açaí powder is an inexpensive process that does a poor job of preserving any significant amount of the açaí berry’s nutritional benefits. Freeze-dried açaí powders, however, are an effective way of preserving nutrients such as anthocyanins, but not the dietary fibers and omega fatty acids, thus they can never match the experience of eating freshly frozen Amafruits açaí purees.
Q: What is the difference between the Amafruits Energy Mix and the Pure & Unsweetened Açaí Puree Packs?A: Amafruits Pure & Unsweetened Açaí is straight Açaí pulp without any sweeteners. The Energy Mix is the traditional blend enjoyed in Brazil where Pure Açaí pulp is mixed with guaraná syrup (açaí is a fruit with almost no sugar and sweetening it brings out its rich flavor). We have used guaraná syrup using green cane juice with a small amount of guaraná seed extract, which has a small amount of caffeine (about equivalent to a cup of decaffeinated coffee).
Q: How should I consume Amafruits açaí frozen purees?A: The Amafruits açaí frozen purees packs – Pure & Unsweetened and Energy Mix - are ready to eat. All you have to do is to let them thaw to your preferred consistency and start munching! You can also prepare yourself a bowl of authentic açaí, just like they have it in the Amazon: totally pure, adding only a little of your sweetener of choice (açaí contains practically no natural sugars) or make an amazing smoothie. Other options can be found under recipes.
Q: How much açaí should I have per day?A: There is no USDA guideline on how much açaí one should consume in a day. Amafruits frozen acai berry purees are very healthy foods, so how many packs you have depends only on your appetite and calorie intake objectives. In the Amazon it is not uncommon for people to have more than 1 liter of acai per day!
Q: Are Amafruits açaí purees safe for children?A: Our açaí purees are completely safe for children: a lot of healthy nutrition and no chemical additives. In fact, in the jungles of the Amazon, there is no ready source of infant formula or something similar, so mothers often wean their babies straight to açaí. This is a testament to the nutritional value of açaí as a superfood. Our Amafruits Energy Mix açaí puree does contain a small amount of natural caffeine in the guaraná and may not be appropriate for babies.
Q: Are Amafruits açaí purees organic?A: Yes, Amafruits açaí purees are made exclusively with wild-grown, organic açaí berries harvested by hand. Not only are there no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers used in the growing process, but there is actually no human intervention at all impacting the purity of the açaí berries we use. Amafruits Acai is certified organic by the Brazilian Instituto Biodynamico (IBD), www.ibd.com.br.
Q: Do Amafruits açaí purees help you lose weight?A: Even though there is not yet any clinical proof, many people tell us they have lost weight after putting açaí in their diet. Açaí is rich in healthy fats known as omega fatty acids, so it is very satisfying. When you are satisfied you eat less and this seems to be the case with açaí. Plus, it is high in dietary fiber which also helps you feel full longer since fiber digests slowly. Of course, losing weight should be achieved through an active lifestyle and eating nutritiously balanced foods - like açaí.
Q: Does consuming Amafruits açaí purees really contribute toward the preservation of the Amazon?A: Through the harvesting of açaí, thousands of job opportunities for small family farmers are created that support the local Amazon communities and provide the economic solution and alternative to deforestation for other commercial ventures such as logging, soy farming and raising cattle on rainforest land that has been slashed and burned. In addition, besides bearing the açaí fruit, the açaí palm tree is also famous for its soft, inner core, palm hearts, which are used in salads and other "gourmet" dishes. Increased demand for Amafruits açaí purees means a greater economic incentive for local farmers to preserve the açaí palm for its fruit rather than cutting it down for its palm heart (or for any other reason).
Q: What does Amafruits do to help preserve the Amazon and support native communities?A: The açaí berries in Amafruits açaí purees are bought directly from small farmer coops that harvest the berries in the rainforests of the Amazon River Delta, the heartland of açaí. By eliminating intermediaries, farmers are able to receive fair prices for their açaí fruits. This gives the farmers an added incentive to preserve the beautiful açaí groves which are an important part of the fragile Amazon Delta ecosystem. Furthermore, a part of Amafruits’ proceeds is dedicated to educational and environmental projects in the Amazon aimed at sustainable economic development for the region and the preservation of its ecosystem and native culture.
Q: Are you taking on investors?A: We are always open to discussing strategic partnership opportunities with qualified organizations and/or parties. If you are interested in investing in Amafruits, please answer the following two questions and submit an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Your name and contact information.
2. The name of your organization and a brief description of its activities.
Q: Any other questions, suggestions or comments?A: Please contact us.