What is the acai berry?
The acai berry is an inch-long reddish, purple fruit. It comes from the acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea), which is native to Central and South America. It is a relative of the blueberry, cranberry, and other dark purple fruits.
Research on the acai berry has focused on its possible antioxidant activity. Theoretically, that activity may help prevent diseases caused by oxidative stress such as heart disease and cancer.
Is the acai berry healthy?
Acai contains several substances called anthocyanins and flavonoids.
The word anthocyanin comes from two Greek words meaning “plant” and “blue.” Anthocyanins are responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues in many fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Foods that are richest in anthocyanins -- such as blueberries, red grapes, red wine, and acai -- are very strongly colored, ranging from deep purple to black.
Anthocyanins and flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help defend the body against life's stressors. They also play a role in the body's cell protection system. Free radicals are harmful byproducts produced by the body. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants may interfere with aging and the disease process by neutralizing free radicals.
By lessening the destructive power of free radicals, antioxidants may help reduce the risk of some diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Are there known health benefits of acai berries?
Some studies show that acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity with even more antioxidant content than cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, or blueberry. Studies are ongoing, though, and the jury is still out.
People eat acai berries to address various health conditions. But so far, acai berries have no known health benefit that’s any different than that of other similar fruits.
Can acai berries boost weight loss?
Scientists are learning more about the functional power of superfoods, such as the acai berry. Although acai is touted in some weight loss products, few studies have tested the benefit of acai in promoting weight loss.
For now, plenty of research supports eating a diet rich in antioxidants. There’s no doubt that berries and other fruits are a key part of any healthy diet promoting weight loss. The jury’s still out on whether there is something special about acai’s ability to shed excess pounds.
Why are acai berries used in beauty products?
Some cosmetics and beauty products contain acai oil in the ingredient list. That’s because acai oil is a powerhouse of antioxidants.
Studies show that acai oil may be a safe alternative to other tropical oils used in beauty products such as facial and body creams, anti-aging skin therapies, shampoos and conditioners, and other products. When acai oil is processed and stored long-term, the antioxidant levels remain high.
Do acai berries and acai juice have any side effects?
If you have pollen allergies or have a known hypersensitivity to acai or similar berries, you may want to avoid this fruit. When eaten in moderate amounts, though, acai is likely safe.