Here's How You Actually Pronounce 'Acai.'

Acai bowl

Head over to Instagram and take a quick scroll through the hashtag #acaibowl. What do you see? Nearly 1.4 million pictures of purple-ish bowls crowned with aesthetically pleasing rows of toppings, right? They really are so Gramworthy, with their perfectly sliced bananas, arranged like dominos that have just toppled over, and the chia seeds meticulously sprinkled in a pencil-straight line. Then there are the bowls that are next level, featuring foods only found in Whole Foods or tropical getaways—passion fruit, star fruit, edible flowers.

It’s the toppings that really catch the eye and make these bowls a favorite subject of coastal influencers, but, exactly, is underneath all that noise? It’s acai, of course, but what’s that (and how do you pronounce it, exactly)?

How to Say Açaí Correctly

You may have heard açaí pronounced several ways, including “ah-sigh,” "ah-kye," or “ak-a-see.” Both Melissa Petitto, RD, Acai Super Berry Cookbook author and Thymeless My Chef founder, and Rachel Rothman, MS, RD, CLEC and registered dietitian, say that the correct way to say it is actually “ah-sigh-ee.” “It can be tricky to get the pronunciation right,” Rothman say.

The reason why it is pronounced this way is because the cedilla, or hook under the “c” transforms the letter to sound like an “s” as opposed to the “k” sound it would have without it. The accented “i” at the end of the word (called an i-acute), indicates a long vowel “ee” sound. Put this together and you get ah-sigh-ee.

7 Facts to Know About Açaí

If you’ve ever walked into a cafe and been too embarrassed to say your order aloud, we’ve got your back. While it might vary a bit based on where you live, açaí is generally pronounced ah-sigh-EE, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

1. Acai is a berry grown and harvested in Brazil.

It can be found in bunches on trees in the floodplains in the northern parts of the country. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t that long ago that açaí didn’t have a global market. One scholar pointed out for Tambor that it took just a few decades to change this. It is now the highest-valued food product in Brazil.

But it's worth noting that you can't actually eat acai in its original, berry-like form (although they're technically drupes, because of their pits). Petitto explains that to make them edible, açaí are soaked and then mashed to make a paste."This paste is how you buy it frozen in grocery stores,” she says.

Related: What the Heck is a Kiwano Melon and How Do You Eat It?

2. Acai is often called a superfruit.

One of the reasons it has become so popular is because of its nutrient contents, which are really quite impressive. “The main health benefit that açaí is often touted for is the antioxidant properties,” explains Alix Turoff, MS, RD, CPT. “They have about three times more antioxidant activity than blueberries.”

These antioxidants actually come from the natural dye present in the fruit, giving it a purple color, according to Dr. William Li, author of Eat To Beat Disease:The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. It is called anthocyanin and it is the same dye found in blueberries, there’s just more of it. “While there are few human studies, tests in lab animals have shown that açaí has been shown to combat cancer, improve cholesterol, and even help memory,” he explains.

3. Açaí offers a lot of fiber.

A single serving of açaí pulp, which is typically how it is found in stores, has two grams of dietary fiber. According to Li, this is just one more benefit offered by this Brazilian fruit because dietary fiber acts as a prebiotic that will ultimately improve the overall health of your gut, making it a great option for those looking for high-fiber snacks.

4. Acai is a naturally low-sugar fruit.

Even though it is a berry, it is a very low-sugar, low-carb option. A single serving of açaí only contains two grams of sugar and four grams of carbohydrates. This makes it a great option for smoothie lovers who need to be careful about their sugar consumption because of a health condition like diabetes.

Related: Are Poke Bowls Really Healthy? You Might Be Surprised What Nutrition Experts Have to Say

5. Açaí can be consumed as a supplement.

While most people associate this berry with smoothies and bowls, that isn’t the only way to benefit from the nutritional content of açaí. Sold in capsule form, açaí supplements offer the opportunity to easily consume the powerful antioxidant found in the fruit.

Two words of warning: Many companies are selling açaí with the promise of weight loss. There isn’t scientific evidence to back this claim. Additionally, Li encourages new users to do their research first. “If you are considering taking an açaí supplement, read the label to make sure there are other substances that might have side effects with the medications you take,” he says.

Related: Best Vegan Diet Tips for Beginners

6. Açaí isn’t always healthy.

Despite the impressive nutritional benefits of açaí, you can’t always assume that all acai products are healthy. Like so many foods, the health can be seriously compromised by other ingredients brought into the equation.

“Many commercially available açaí products have added sugar,” explains Turoff. “Look for one with no added sugar.  You also want to be careful with açaí bowls at restaurants or juice bars. They're often loaded with caloric toppings and can have over 500 calories per bowl.”

This doesn’t mean you should eat it. Instead, Li suggests reading the ingredients lists carefully to double-check that what you are eating isn’t loaded with added sugar or other unhealthy additives.

7. You can make an açaí bowl at home.

Sure, the fruit-covered bowls sold at cafes and smoothie bars look amazing, but anyone with a blender can create an açaí bowl that fits their taste.

One of the best things about making your own açaí bowl is complete control over the ingredients. Look for frozen açaí pulp puree that contains no added sugar and think about what ingredients you’d like to add. Because it isn’t high in sugar, it doesn’t taste sweet, so adding half a frozen banana and ice cubes to the blender is likely a good start. From there, it can be topped with your favorite nuts, fruits, chia seed, granola, and even a drizzle of nut butter. The possibilities are practically endless.

Related: Homemade Smoothie Bowl Recipes


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