Acai Berry Benefits, Nutrition Facts, How To Use, And Side Effects

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Julie Freeman, MA, RDN, LDN, RYT
by Annie Jangam

Acai (Euterpe oleracea) berries have been consumed by people to improve their health for thousands of years. The berries possess several properties that have been known to improve our overall health. They help prevent arthritis, inflammation, erectile dysfunction, obesity, heart disease, and cholesterol. They not only aid weight loss and digestion but also enhance your immunity and promote healthy skin and hair.

Acai berries are popularly used in health supplements for the purported benefits they provide in improving health in a holistic way. Hence, it is safe to say that acai berries are very healthy if consumed regularly. Read on to understand why exactly you may want to consider adding acai berries to your daily diet.

What Are Acai Berries?

There are many healthy fruits you can add to your diet, but the acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry is one of the healthiest berries you will find. These reddish-purple round fruits are found in the rainforests of South America. They contain antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals that aid weight loss, reduce cholesterol, and promote a healthy heart in addition to providing several other benefits.

Now, let’s find out where they originated from.

What Is The History Of Acai Berries?

Acai berries have been around for thousands of years but have only been introduced to the Western world around the 1990s. These berries were first known to be used by the Amazonian tribes to cure several ailments. They found that acai berries had natural antioxidant properties and eating them reduced cholesterol, promoted a healthy heart, and controlled prostate enlargement (nature’s viagra). Acai berries were also pulped and used to make wine that was known to be very healthy.
Acai berries improve our health in several ways. Let’s look at the benefits in detail.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Acai Berries?

1. May Help Detoxify The Body

The food we eat and the air we breathe contain toxins in the form of free radicals that can harm our body. One of the reasons acai berry is so popularly used in the health industry is that it has unusually high levels of antioxidants as compared to other plant foods (1).

These are known to repair the oxidative damage caused to the body by these free radicals. These antioxidants also inhibit the growth of harmful organisms and help flush out contaminants that may otherwise increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer (2).

2. May Protect Against Heart Disease And Diabetes

Research shows that acai berries are extremely high in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that promote overall heart health (3). A 2014 study done on rats subjected to myocardial infarction (heart attack) concluded that acai berry significantly helped in the treatment of heart-related diseases like cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis, and cardiac dysfunction (4).

Another study was done in California on 10 overweight individuals who were given acai berry fruit pulp for 30 days. There was a reduction in blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels in the body (5).

3. May Boost Weight Loss

A lot of brands market their acai berry supplements as a standalone solution for weight loss. But while acai berries may be extremely healthy and contain a wide range of nutrients, it is not enough to consume them alone to boost weight loss.

Research shows that the fiber and fatty acid content in acai berries help increase metabolism, boost fat burn, and decrease cravings (6). Hence, consuming acai berries along with a healthy diet may help you lose weight better and faster (6).

4. May Promote Digestion

Traditionally, acai berry juice was used as a natural treatment for diarrhea. It was believed to cleanse the system of toxins and strengthen the digestive system. The high amount of fiber present in acai berries may help in this regard (6). It may improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients and also prevent constipation.

5. May Help Fight Cancer Cells

Consuming acai berries regularly may help reduce the risk of several types of cancers, particularly those of the colon and the breast. A study done in 2014 claims that acai berries possess anticancer properties and may help in the development of chemopreventive medication (7). Another Texas study strongly suggested that the berries contained anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic properties that effectively fought and suppressed colon cancer (8).

6. May Enhance Cognitive Functioning

One of the many benefits of acai berries is that they significantly help maintain your overall brain health. A 2012 study conducted on mice suggested that acai berry pulp had protective properties towards brain cells. The berry pulp may contribute to better cognitive and motor functions (9). Another study performed on rats in 2014 concluded that the compounds present in acai berries could protect your brain from damage as you age (10).

7. May Improve Cellular Health

The antioxidant properties of acai berries increase the efficiency of the cells in absorbing nutrients (11).

8. May Boost The Immune System

One of the greatest benefits of acai berries is their ability to boost and strengthen the immune system. The antioxidant-rich fruits fight free radicals and protect your body from several diseases and infections. A 2011 study showed that the immune responses of acai berry had the potential to treat asthma and infectious diseases (12).

9. May Increase Energy Levels

Acai berries are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats that may help keep your stamina and energy levels high. These fruits are commonly termed as “Amazon rainforest viagra”, as they increase libido and enhance sex drive. Acai berries may also boost blood circulation and potentially promote energy levels. However, there is no research to back this claim. Much of the information is based on anecdotal evidence.

10. May Help Heal Wounds

Acai berries have significant wound-healing properties, owing to their anti-inflammatory nature. A 2017 study showed that a scratch wound healed faster after 24 hours of using acai berry water extracts (13).

11. May Promote Sound Sleep

Acai berries may promote better sleep (14). A ¼ cup of acai berry juice taken before bed may promote sleep quality. However, more research is needed to understand the sleep-promoting effects of the berries.

Are There Any Skin Benefits Of Acai Berries?

Acai berries contain many vitamins and minerals that may enhance skin health. They not only help to slow the signs of aging but also lighten scars and prevent acne and breakouts. The benefits are discussed in detail below.

12. May Help Slow Down Aging

Acai berries are a powerhouse of important nutrients. They also contain antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals and help delay the signs of aging (15). These properties of acai berries make them a perfect ingredient in anti-aging creams. Using them every day keeps the skin glowing and healthy.

13. May Help Control Pigmentation

Acai berry was found to be one of the most beneficial ingredients to treat hyperpigmentation (16).

14. May Help Control Acne

Owing to their anti-inflammatory properties, acai berries may help in acne control. The berries are used in some formulations meant for acne treatment (17).

15. May Lighten Scars

There is less research available in this regard. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the berries may also help lighten acne scars. You may try crushing a few acai berries with a ripe avocado and apply the mask to your face. Leave it on for about 10-15 minutes and then wash it off. This treatment may leave your skin feeling fresh.

16. May Hydrate Your Skin

Your facial skin is prone to wear and tear due to excessive exposure to the sun, chemicals, and pollutants. The antioxidants present in acai berry may help repair the damage and replenish the lost moisture. However, direct research is lacking in this aspect.

17. May Soften Your Lips

As per anecdotal evidence, regular application of acai berry juice may keep the lips hydrated, soft, and luscious.

The berry may have some benefits for the hair too. We will explore them in the next section.

What About The Hair Benefits Of Acai Berries?

Acai berries contain vital nutrients that may make your hair stronger, softer, and shinier. These nutrients not only promote scalp health but may also prevent hair loss.

18. May Strengthen Hair

Acai berries, being a powerhouse of essential nutrients, may help maintain a healthy scalp and strengthen your hair from the roots. This helps prevent hair shedding. There is no direct research to substantiate these claims, however. They are totally based on anecdotal evidence.

19. May Promote Hair Growth

Acai berries are rich in proteins, healthy fats (omega 3, 6, and 9), and vitamins A, B complex, C, and E. These nutrients may work together to aid hair growth. As per anecdotal evidence, these berries were found to promote hair growth.

20. May Promote Scalp Health

Acai berries contain a significant amount of zinc and folic acid. Zinc may promote scalp health and potentially prevent hair loss. Disturbances in zinc metabolism were found to lead to hair loss (18).

The folic acid in the berries may also improve blood circulation in the scalp. Some research shows that folic acid deficiency can lead to hair loss (19). It also may aid the regeneration of the cells that contribute to hair growth, and prevent graying of hair.

These are potential benefits of acai berries. While some of them have been proven by research, some others need scientific backing. In the upcoming section, we will look at the nutritional profile of the berries.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Acai Berries?

Acai berries can be a nutritious addition to your diet since they contain an array of important minerals and vital nutrients. Below is the nutrition profile of these berries.

100 grams of pure acai berry contain (20):

  • 70 calories
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 1 grams of dietary fiber
  • 4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 750 IU of vitamin A
  • 20 milligrams of calcium

Vitamins And Minerals: Acai berries are loaded with vital vitamins and minerals that help build a healthier body, flush out toxins, and boost the immune system.

Antioxidants: They are rich in antioxidants that play a vital role in maintaining overall health. These antioxidants slow down the rate of oxidative damage by free radicals.

Fats: These berries contain a significant amount of fats, though most of them are healthy fats. These fats may help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the body. They may also aid weight loss.

Acai Berry Vs. Goji Berry – Which Is Better?

Both acai and goji berries are extremely nutritious and have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Just like acai, goji berries are known to contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that may help improve your body’s strength, stamina, and fertility and protect the liver and the heart.

Both acai and goji berries are rich in nutrients. While acai berries contain a far more number of antioxidants, goji berries are lower in fat content.

Goji berries have slightly higher levels of vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, whereas acai berries have less sugar and carbohydrates as compared to goji berries.

Overall, both berries to be equally healthy. The best way to enjoy the benefits of both is to consume them together.
In the following section, we will discuss how you can include acai berries in your diet.

How To Use Acai Berries

Acai berries can be eaten raw or used in any of the following ways:

  • Blend them with milk to make a healthy smoothie or shake.
  • Several creams use acai berry as their main ingredient. You can apply any of them to your skin to reap the benefits.
  • If fresh acai berries are not available in your country, you can go for tablets or capsules.
  • Crush the berries into a juice and top it with chia or hemp seeds for an added boost. With juicing, however, limit the portion to about ¼ cup due to the concentration of sugar.

Now that you know how to use these berries, it is important to know how to select and store them to get the best out of them.

How To Select And Store Acai Berries

A small quantity of the berries, in any of the above forms, is recommended to boost your body’s metabolism, flush out toxins, and reveal younger and smoother-looking skin.

Acai berry supplements of various brands are easily available in pharmacies. Make sure to check for any side effects before purchasing. Also choose organic, GMP, 3rd party tested products.

If you prefer to consume berries in the natural form, refrigerate them and consume within a week.

Supplements have a shelf life of about 1 year, so they can be stored in a cool and dry place.

Acai berry juice, however, should be consumed almost immediately after juicing the berries.

We also have included a delicious acai berry recipe you may want to try.

Any Popular Acai Berry Recipes?

Acai Berry Smoothie

You Will Need

  • ¾ cup plain greek or almond greek yogurt
  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ cup strawberries
  • ½ cup acai berries (or their frozen pulp)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree them well.
  2. Adding crushed ice will create a more foamy smoothie.
  3. Serve in a glass and top with soaked chia seeds.

Where To Buy Acai Berries

It is very difficult to obtain fresh acai berries unless you live in Brazil or its neighbouring countries. You can buy acai berries in the powder or capsule form from most health stores. You can also purchase them online.

Let’s now look at some fun facts about these berries.

What Are Some Fun Facts About Acai Berries?

  • Acai berries have been used as weight loss supplements since ages.
  • The acai palm also grows in the rainforests of South America.
  • Acai berries contain twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and 10 times as grapes.
  • Their antioxidant power is 33 times more than red grapes and red wine.

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  • Acai pulp has 10-30 times more anthocyanins than the same amount of red wine.

Although acai berries offer a wide array of benefits, they have a few side effects.

Are There Any Side Effects I Need To Be Aware Of?

Acai berry supplements are sometimes marketed for weight loss. However, some research shows that certain weight loss supplements may have adverse health effects (21).

These berries should not be consumed by people who have pollen allergies since they are known to aggravate these allergies further. However, limited research is available.

As per anecdotal evidence, the overconsumption of acai berries may cause diarrhea, irritation in the intestinal tract, headaches, and reduced vision.

As long as you consume these berries in limited quantities, your body will receive all the goodness from them. Though there is no recommended dosage of acai berries, having them in regular food amounts should be safe.

Conclusion

Acai berries are nutrient-dense. They are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that may help lower cholesterol, improve skin texture, and promote hair growth. Studies show that the berries may help in weight loss, protect the brain, and boost immunity. Research on acai berry extracts has shown anti-tumor, anti-diabetic and anti-aging properties.

Include them in your diet to reap their benefits. Avoid supplements if you are underweight or have pollen allergies. More research needs to be done to fully understand the benefits and side effects of acai berries. Hence, consult your doctor and dietitian before including acai berries in your diet.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What are the health benefits of an açai bowl?

Acai bowls are extremely healthy as they are packed with fresh fruits, frozen fruits, nut butter, almond milk, nuts, and seeds. This provides the body with a lot of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and good fats.

Why do I crave acai berries during pregnancy and how healthy they are during the period?

Craving acai berries during pregnancy could happen probably because the body is not receiving enough nutrients. The berries would be a healthy addition to your diet during pregnancy.

What do acai berries taste like?

Acai berries taste tropical and bitter. They also have an after-taste similar to that of a dark chocolate.

How much acai berry juice can I drink?

You may drink about about ¼ cup of the juice per day.

How to use acai berry powder?

Acai berry powder can be blended in juices and smoothies or sprinkled over oatmeal or yogurt parfait. Use no more than 6 grams of sugar in a serving.

What are the health benefits of acai berry tea?

Just like acai berries, acai berry tea benefits the body in several ways, like boosting energy, reducing inflammation, aiding weight loss, fighting cancer, reducing the signs of aging, detoxifying the body, and strengthening the immune system. However, none of these benefits of the tea has been confirmed by research yet.

21 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Annie Jangam

Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."
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