Acai berries grow on acai palm trees (Euterpe oleracea), mostly throughout the Amazon region of South America, including Brazil and Peru.
Acai berries have recently become well-known and popular in many countries around the world. You may also have heard about them from nutritionists discussing their health-boosting properties.
Acai berries are considered to be a nutritionally-dense food. They contain high amounts of numerous vital nutrients, incl. vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, fibre, sterols and carbohydrates. (Ref. 1)
But as a functional food, they are best known for being rich in anti-oxidants, ex. anthocyanins. Among some anti-oxidants found in Acai berries, we have: anthocyanin 3-glycosides, ferulic acid, epicatechin, p-hydroxy benzoic acid, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, catechin, ellagic acid, vanillic acid, p-coumaric acid and gallotannins. (Ref. 2)
Anti-oxidants have been generally suggested for fighting free radicals and preventing age-related damage to our bodies. (Ref. 3)
We also know that certain nutrient deficiencies may result in tiredness and chronic fatigue.
In this respect, Acai berries can serve as a good energy food because they can deliver healthy nutrition to our bodies and give us that *lift-me-up* just when we need it.
Health Benefits of Acai Berries
Health benefits offered by acai berries may, indeed, be quite extensive.
Let's take a look at some existing research to understand better how this wonderful plant can support our health.
Acai Anti-Oxidant Potential
Researchers believe that many health benefits are achieved thanks to the capacity of Acai antioxidants to scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress inside the body. (Ref. 2)
Oxidative stress has been implicated in a whole variety of "classic" chronic conditions, such as cancer, atherosclerosis and heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, autism, and other degenerative diseases. (Ref. 4, 5, 6 and 7)
It is a major contributor to the weakened immune system as well. (Ref. 8)
We also know that oxidative stress may be one of the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome. (Ref. 9)
Since Acai berries have such a broad anti-oxidant and detoxifying potential, we suggest that, if taken over a period of time, they can strengthen the immune system, central nervous system and heart function, among other benefits.
So, by removing deep-seated causes of illness - some of which are vitamin deficiencies and toxins in the body - Acai can help us to take care of our health on a fundamental level.
Acai Polyphenols and Polysaccharides
We know that Acai berries contain high levels of polyphenols and polysaccharides which are believed to contribute to its healing properties. (Ref. 10)
Polyphenols in acai are powerful anti-oxidants, and have been shown to have immunomodulatory functions in previous studies. (Ref. 10 and 11)
Polysaccharides, on the other hand, function as prebiotics and may carry many beneficial effects, too.
In addition to that, a study demonstrated that acai polysaccharides also have immunomodulatory activities and could be used as a therapeutic or preventative treatment for asthma and infectious diseases, ex. against bacterial pathogens of the lung such as Francisella tularensis and Coxiella burnetii. (Ref. 10)
Immunomodulation is a regulation of the work of the immune system - either stimulating it if it is too weak, or suppressing it if it is too active. In this regard, acai can be a very valuable food for improving our immune function.
Other Points About Acai Berries
Raw acai berries normally perish within 24 hours of harvesting. For that reason, manufacturers freeze-dry freshly harvested berries and then grind them into powder.
Acai powder has a rich proteinish-kind of taste, and you can enjoy it either on its own or mix it with other foods.
Another convenient way to take acai powder is to to put it in capsules using a capsule machine and empty capsules.
Written by: Irina Bright
Original publication date: 2013
Republication date: 2020
1. Allie Hanson (2013). The Astounding Acai Berry. Published by Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://wwwwin.cord.edu/fnd/arhanson/Documents/Acai%20Poster.pdf
2. Jay K Udani, Betsy B Singh, Vijay J Singh, and Marilyn L Barrett (May 2011). Effects of Aai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: A pilot study. Published in Nutrition Journal. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118329/
3. Amy L.S. Dowling, PhD and Elizabeth Head, PhD (May 2012). Antioxidants in the Canine Model of Human Aging. Published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3291812/
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6. Sarah Ciccone, Emiliano Maiani, Giovanna Bellusci, Marc Diederich, and Stefania Gonfloni (January 2013). Parkinson's Disease: A Complex Interplay of Mitochondrial DNA Alterations and Oxidative Stress. Published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587993/
7. Stepan Melnyk, George J. Fuchs, Eldon Schulz, Maya Lopez, Stephen G. Kahler, Jill J. Fussell, Jayne Bellando, Oleksandra Pavliv, Shannon Rose, Lisa Seidel, David W. Gaylor, and S. Jill James (March 2013). Metabolic Imbalance Associated with Methylation Dysregulation and Oxidative Damage in Children with Autism. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342663/
8. B. Poljsak (December 2011). Strategies for Reducing or Preventing the Generation of Oxidative Stress. Published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3236599/
9. Michael Maes, Marta Kubera, Marc Uytterhoeven, Nicolas Vrydags, and Eugene Bosmans (April 2011). Increased plasma peroxides as a marker of oxidative stress in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Published in Medical Science Monitor. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539515/
10. Jeff Holderness, Igor A. Schepetkin, Brett Freedman, Liliya N. Kirpotina, Mark T. Quinn, Jodi F. Hedges, and Mark A. Jutila (2011). Polysaccharides Isolated from Aa Fruit Induce Innate Immune Responses. Published in PLoS One. Retrieved July 11, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046208/
11. Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL, Ou B, Huang D, Owens J, Agarwal A, Jensen GS, Hart AN, Shanbrom E (November 2006). Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (acai). Published in Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. Retrieved July 11, 2013 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17061840