Latin Name – Euterpe oleracea
Native to tropical Central and South America, the acai berry’s name means "fruit that cries" in the language of the native people. The reddish-purple acai berry is related to the blueberry and cranberry.
Acai berry products are available as juices, powders, tablets, and capsules.
The acai berry has long been an important food source for native peoples of the Amazon region, who also use acai for a variety of health-related purposes.
In the United States acai berry products have been widely marketed for weight-loss and anti-aging purposes, but there is no definitive scientific evidence to support these claims.
Acai fruit pulp has been used experimentally as an oral contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the gastrointestinal tract.
Research on Benefits of Acai
There is no definitive scientific evidence based on studies in humans to support the use of acai berry for any health-related purpose.
No independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss. Researchers who investigated the safety profile of an acai-fortified juice in animals observed that there were no body weight changes in rats given the juice compared with controls.
Laboratory studies have focused on acai berry’s potential antioxidant properties (antioxidants are substances that are thought to protect cells from damaging effects of chemical reactions with oxygen). Laboratory studies also suggest that acai berries may demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- There is little reliable information about the safety of acai as a supplement. It is widely consumed as an edible fruit or as a juice.
- People who are allergic to acai or to plants in the Arecaceae (palm) family should not consume acai.
- Consuming acai might affect MRI test results. If you use acai products and are scheduled for an MRI, check with your health care provider.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Marcason W. “What is the açaí berry and are there health benefits?” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(11):1968.
- Schreckinger ME, Lotton J, Lila MA, et al. “Berries from South America: a comprehensive review on chemistry, health potential, and commercialization.” Journal of Medicinal Food. 2010;13(2):233–246.
- Acai. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on April 19, 2011.
- Acai (Euterpe oleracea). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on April 19, 2011.
- Acai berry diet. Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on April 19, 2011.
For More Information
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Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Acai Fact Sheet, Created April 2011