Acai berry is the fruit from Euterpe palm tree, and has been staple food of Amazonia for centuries. Acai berry extracts have been used by Amazonian natives to treatment diarrhea, parasitic infections, hemorrhages, and ulcers. Studies suggest that E. oleracea has therapeutic effects on problems like cancer, hypocholes-terolemia, fatty liver, malaria, and neurodegeneration(6). Acai berries are low in sugar, but contain excellent amounts of iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. They also contain ferulic acid and anthocyanin compounds such as resveratrol, which not only give fruits and vegetables their distinct color, but also team up with flavonoids to defend the body against harmful free radicals. In fact, acai berries contain 10 to 30 times more antioxidants than red wine.
Antioxidants help eliminate the free radicals from the body and help in halting or slowing down the aging process. Some studies show that acai fruit pulp is even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries(1), (3). Many studies have demonstrated that flavonoids have strong anti-oxidant activities and anti-inflammatory properties. Seven major flavonoids were isolated from freeze-dried acai pulp: orientin, homoorientin, vitexin, luteolin, chrysoeriol, quercetin, and dihydrokaempferol(2). In lab studies, antioxidants appear to protect cells from damage that can lead to diseases like cancer(4). Some lab studies of acai extracts led to positive effects on blood vessels that could be useful for many different medical conditions(5). Acai berries contain minerals like potassium (which helps control heart rate and blood pressure) and manganese (a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase). Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules in cells, which might prevent damage to tissues.
Fresh acai berries contain nearly 50 percent fat. However, this fat content is primarily oleic acid (Omega-9), linoleic acid (Omega-6) and Omega-3 fatty acids; the same fatty acids found in olive oil. They help reduce LDL-cholesterol level and raise good HDL-cholesterol levels in the body, are heart-healthy fats, and are essential for the cardiovascular system and proper neurological function. An imbalance Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids is believed to cause a variety of disease symptoms ranging from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, inflammatory and auto-immune disorders, depression and disrupted neurological functions(7).
Acai supplements could interact with over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and other NSAID painkillers, as well as prescription drugs for pain. Check with your doctor if you’re taking cancer drugs, because acai could block their effectiveness.
1)WebMD. Acai berries and Acai berry juice -- what are the health benefits? 2005-2016. http://www.webmd.com/diet/acai-berries-and-acai-berry-juice-what-are-the-health-benefits
6)Batista CD, de Oliveira MS, Araújo ME, Rodrigues AM, Botelho JR, da Silva Souza Filho AP, Machado NT, Carvalho RN. Supercritical CO 2 extraction of açaí (Euterpe oleracea) berry oil: Global yield, fatty acids, allelopathic activities, and determination of phenolic and anthocyanins total compounds in the residual pulp. The Journal of Supercritical Fluids. 2016 Jan 31;107:364-9. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mozaniel_Oliveira/publication/283537993_Supercritical_CO2_extraction_of_acai_Euterpe_oleracea_berry_oil_Global_yield_fatty_acids_allelopathic_activities_and_determination_of_phenolic_and_anthocyanins_total_compounds_in_the_residual_pulp/links/564a85dc08ae44e7a28dc027.pdf
Antioxidant / Anti-inflammatory:
2)Kang, J., Li, Z. M., Wu, T., Jensen, G. S., Schauss, A. G., & Wu, X. (2010). Anti-oxidant capacities of flavonoid compounds isolated from açai pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.). Food Chemistry, 122, 610–617. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alexander_Schauss/publication/237044586_Anti-oxidant_capacities_of_flavonoid_compounds_isolated_from_acai_pulp_(Euterpe_oleracea_Mart.)/links/0deec51af8a82e8daa000000.pdf
3)Wu, X., Beecher, G. R., Holden, J. M., Haytowitz, D. B., Gebhardt, S. E., & Prior, R. L. (2004). Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(12), 4026–4037. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gary_Beecher/publication/8521232_Lipophilic_and_Hydrophilic_Antioxidant_Capacities_of_Common_Foods_in_the_United_States/links/0912f510138dca6e40000000.pdf
4)Folmer F, Basavaraju U, Jaspars M, Hold G, El-Omar E, Dicato M, Diederich M. Anticancer effects of bioactive berry compounds. Phytochemistry reviews. 2014 Mar 1;13(1):295-322. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marc_Diederich/publication/263612813_Anticancer_effects_of_bioactive_berry_compounds/links/543f34dc0cf2eaec07e81078.pdf
Xie, C., Kang, J., Li, Z., Schauss, A. G., Badger, T. M., Nagarajan, S., et al. (2012). The açaí flavonoid velutin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent: Blockade of LPS-mediated TNF-a and IL-6 production through inhibiting NF-jB activation and MAPK pathway. Journal of Nutrition Biochemistry, 23, 1184–1191. http://www.jnutbio.com/article/S0955-2863(11)00209-9/abstract
5)Xie, C., Kang, J., Burris, R., Ferguson, M. E., Schauss, A. G., Nagarajan, S., et al. (2011). Açaí juice attenuates atherosclerosis in ApoE deficient mice through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Atherosclerosis, 216, 327–333. http://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(11)00199-7/pdf
7)Newton I.S. Long chain fatty acids in health and nutrition. J. Food Lipids. 1996;3:233–249. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229953954_Long-Chain_Fatty_Acids_in_Health_and_Nutrition