Acai berries and acai berry juice - What are the health benefits?
The acai berry and acai berry juice is the subject of some big health claims if you search for it online, with suggestions it has anti-ageing, anti-oxidant and weight loss properties, for example.
No claims like these have been verified by the European food regulator EFSA, so you won’t see claims like these on packs sold in shops.
What is the acai berry?
The acai berry is a 2.5cm-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.
Is the acai berry healthy?
Acai berries and their pulp are rich in anti-oxidants, which studies have shown may be beneficial in humans.
Research on the acai berry has focused on its possible antioxidant activity. In laboratory studies, antioxidants appear to protect cells from damage that can lead to diseases like cancer, but the effect in the human body is less easily assessed.
Some research has shown levels of blood antioxidants increase after taking acai berries, but this is no different to a similar rise when we eat other fruits and vegetables too.
Are there known health benefits of acai berries?
Acai fruit pulp has a very high antioxidant capacity with even more antioxidant activity than the pulp of the cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry or blueberry. However, a higher antioxidant content in a fruit doesn’t translate into added benefits for us. We can only use so much of each antioxidant, so more isn’t necessarily better. Acai berries are not cheap and we can get similar anti-oxidant benefits from other purple berries like blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and bilberries.
People have traditionally eaten acai berries to manage health conditions but so far, they have shown no health benefit that is any different to that of other similar fruits.
Can acai berries boost weight loss?
Acai is touted in some weight loss products, however, this effect is unproven and there are no scientific studies to prove that acai berries can boost weight loss.
For now, plenty of research supports eating a diet rich in antioxidants. There is no doubt that berries and other fruits are a key part of any healthy diet promoting weight loss.
Acai supplement information
Acai has been sold as a dietary supplement in an attempt to relieve conditions like high cholesterol, heart problems, allergies and cancer, but these uses of acai are unproven. As a supplement, acai is sold in capsules, extracts and powders. Claims about the nutritional benefits of foods and supplements are regulated by the EU and no approved health claims have been issued for acai berries.