Acai berries are powerful superfoods that few people use in their diets. As a health-foodie and an expert in food nutrition, I feel a huge responsibility to let you know about both the health benefits and side effects of this particular fruit.
Acai Berry Nutrition Facts
Acai berries are fortified with some of the most powerful antioxidants along with a great number of vitamins and minerals that make this fruit so healthy. They boast anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and weight loss properties and what it can do to your body is nothing short of a real miracle.
- Vitamins and minerals: This berry is chock full of vitamin A, B vitamins, C, D, and E, as well as minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, and calcium.
- Protein and amino acids: It contains about 19 different amino acids and 100 grams of the fruit provide your body with more than 8 grams of protein.
- Healthy fats: Despite all the beliefs that berries and most fruits don’t contain healthy fats, acai berries are a good source of omega 3, 6 and 9. About 50% of the fruit is fat.
- Plant sterols: These ones may sound unfamiliar to you, but phytosterols play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system and a strong heart. Acai berries are high in stigmasterol, campesterol, and B-sitosterol, which are all important for our body.
- Fiber: 100 grams of freeze dried acai powder (a great alternative when you have no opportunity to buy fresh or frozen Acai) contain nearly 12 grams of fiber.
- Antioxidants: Acai berries have a wealth of potent antioxidants, including anthocyanins, and are among the highest antioxidant fruits in the world.
- Calories: 100 grams of acai berries contain about 247 calories, making it a high-calorie fruit that must be consumed in moderation.
Acai Berry Myths and Facts
Have a quick look at some of the biggest myths and very interesting facts about acai berries just to be sure you’re well acquainted with this superfood:
- Although Acai has the word “berry,” it is actually a fruit of an acai palm tree. The fruit is in deep purple color and grape-like shape.
- Acai berries have a fatty acid profile similar to organic olive oil.
- This fruit contains almost the same amount of vitamin C as blueberries.
- The people of the Amazon have been eating acai berries for centuries and treat the fruit as a staple food rather than a superfood.
- There’s a popular myth that acai berries are a natural aphrodisiac, but no study has proven this fact.
- Most acai berry supplements claiming to help you lose weight are nothing more but a waste of money.
- There are plenty of acai berry scams so try to buy the fruit or powder or supplement in a local drug store or supermarket.
- Products made from organic acai berries are not always safe. Just because that powder is made from organic fruit doesn’t mean it’s absolutely good for you. Unless you consume fresh or frozen acai berries or drink organic unsweetened acai berry juice, talk to your doctor before supplementing or adding the powder to your smoothie.
- You can’t squeeze acai berries to get fresh juice like you can from blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
- Acai berries don’t help to melt fat, no matter how much you eat it.
- All acai berries are hand-picked, so let’s be thankful for such a hard work.
- You can’t consume 100% Acai because of a strong bitter taste, which is why don’t spend money on huge packs. You will anyway mix it with other ingredients.
- Acai berries were first used by the Amazonian tribes to treat various diseases.
- Each acai palm tree produces approximately 20kg of fruit annually.
Top 10 Best Health Benefits of Acai Berry
Acai helps combat cancer cells
The most effective way to avoid cancers is to reduce your risk by eating this cancer-fighting food. The University of Florida in Gainesville conducted a study revealed that Acai were able to destroy 86% of leukemia cells tested.
Acai is high in anthocyanins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, activate detoxifying enzymes, induce cancer cell death, and prevent or delay cancer cell invasion. On top of containing anthocyanins, acai berries contain a number of other powerful antioxidants that aids in lowering the cancer risk as well.
Keep your heart healthy
A Harvard study found that regular sustained consumption of anthocyanins can lower heart attack risk by 32% in young and middle-aged women. Mix Acai with blueberries and strawberries, and your health will thank you for such a powerful fuel.
The healthy fats and fiber found in Acai also help to maintain heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Fiber intake decreases LDL “bad” cholesterol, while healthy fats boost HDL “good” cholesterol.
Promote brain health
A study done by researchers at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University, found that high acai berry antioxidant content may treat a certain kind of free radical, making the fruit a powerful guard against most degenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, albeit it’s well known that there’s no cure for these diseases.
By including acai berries into your diet, you can improve your memory, reduce oxidative stress, and fight inflammation, which might be affecting your brain health. Moreover, vitamins and amino acids in Acai stimulate a serotonin production, making you feel happy, improving your sleep, and helping you think more clearly.
Improve digestive health
Do you suffer from constipation regularly or once in a while? Acai contains fiber that helps to move waste along the digestive tract, preventing a toxic waste buildup in the colon, bloating, gas, and constipation.
Boost immune system
Weak immune system equals a multitude of diseases that your body can’t resist. Acai berries are a wonderful source of vitamin C that has proven immune-boosting properties. This is one of the reasons healthy eaters and nutritionists add frozen Acai or organic powder to their breakfast bowls, which also include blueberries, goji berries, and chia seeds. Find the recipe below.
Enhance skin health
For centuries, people in Brazil have been using Acai to treat skin conditions. A study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20626172) conducted by the University of Louisville showed that antioxidant-rich foods help to prevent skin degradation, including hyperpigmentation. The high antioxidant content of acai berries makes the fruit one of the best anti-aging foods, as well. A diet rich in antioxidants helps your body repair cellular damage faster and ward off premature aging that even 20 somethings are prone to these days.
While most fruit and berries contain zero or one gram of highly absorbent protein, a serving of Acai will provide you with 8 to 9 grams of protein that aids in gaining muscle. This little fruit is also a great source of glucosamine, a building block for cartilage, and celadrin that reduces inflammation and helps cushion bones and joints and support membranes.
Even though acai berries aren’t the only treatment that you can turn to when coping with anxiety, they can definitely contribute to your mental health. These little berries are overflowing with phytonutrients, which help to relieve anxiety, handle mood swings, and reduce stress. Plus, they have both healthy fats and iron, which are helpful in combating fatigue.
Increase energy levels
The hectic lifestyles, daily stress, alcohol, refined sugars, and overall poor nutrition drain our energy levels. Lack of energy leads to chronic fatigue, insomnia, poor motivation and productivity, depression, and heart disease. Boost your energy level and productivity by adding acai berries or organic powder to your meals. The vitamins and minerals found in the fruit will do their work perfectly well.
Detox your body
There are plenty of factors that contribute to the buildup of toxins within your body, which is why it’s important to detox it at least once a year or include the foods that play a significant role in detoxifying your body. Acai berries are chock-full of antioxidants that will help you get rid of the toxins. The fruit can also aid in alcohol detox. But never start an acai berry detox or any other kind of detox without consulting your doctor first. Everyone’s body is different, so there are always possible drawbacks, including the serious ones.
Side Effects and Dangers of Consuming Too Much of Acai Berries
When eaten in moderation, acai can do only good to your body. However, if you suffer from pollen allergies or are allergic to some fruit and berries, be very careful when incorporating this fruit. Start with a tiny amount and see what happens. If you have any doubts, it’s best to consult a professional nutritionist before incorporating this fruit.
Here are the possible dangers of acai berries:
- Processedacai berry supplements usually lead to the buildup of toxins and plaque, causing acne, fatigue, mood swings, and many other health issues.
- Too much of acai can drastically lower the blood pressure and worsen cardiac issues.
- If your acai supplement contains Echinacea, stop taking it since it can cause liver inflammation and thus affect your liver health.
- Watch out for the acai supplements that contain Feverfew, gingko, and garlic; they can lead to blood thinning and cause severe bleeding.
- Acai berries can interact with most medications, including painkillers, aleve, and aspirin. Acai should never be consumed with antioxidant supplements and cancer medications.
- Acai berries may contain the remnants of triatomines – blood sucking insects that cause Chagas disease – a tropical parasitic disease also renowned as American trypanosomiasis.
- Acai berries can cause respiratory problems and swelling of the throat, mouth, and lips.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women must avoid taking Acai supplements as they can affect the fetus and infant.
- Too much of the fruit can cause diarrhea, headache, and vision problems.
Acai Berry vs. Goji Berry – What Is the Difference and Which Is Better?
If you have trouble choosing between goji berries and acai berries, here’s what you need to know:
- Both acai berries and goji berries contain a good amount of vitamin A and protein.
- Acai berries contain healthy fats while goji berries lack them.
- They both are high in vitamin C, while acai berry juice contains around 200% of daily recommended intake.
- Acai berries are high in calories while and goji berries are low in calories, but both contain zero amounts of cholesterol and sodium.
- They are excellent natural sources of plant-based antioxidants, including flavonoids, but Goji berries contain zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that is not found in acai berries.
- Unlike goji berries, acai berries can’t be dried and transported due to their high fat content. This makes them lose most of their nutrients while goji berries perfectly retain most of their nutrients.
- Goji berries may be packed with insecticides and pesticides, and acai berries may contain the remnants of triatomines, so read the labels and certification carefully before buying.
- Acai berries and goji berries can interact with a great number of medications, including chemotherapy drugs, diabetic drugs, blood pressure and blood thinning medications.
- Acai berries contain more antioxidants than goji berries –they have the ORAC score (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity – a way of measuring antioxidant capacities) of 102,000, while goji berries have only 30,000 of ORAC.
- Acai berries and goji berries have a number of side effects and must not be consumed by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Acai berry and goji berry supplements can contain chemicals and additives that can do more harm than good.
As you can see acai and goji berries are two super healthy foods that you can enjoy daily, if your doctor permits.
How to Buy and Use Acai Berry at Home
Unless you live in South America, it’s almost impossible to find fresh acai. You can buy either frozen or powdered versions. When it comes to supplements, not all of acai berry supplements are safe, organic, and useful. There are tons of fake supplements that people buy and then suffer from serious illnesses. Be careful when buying online and seek medical advice to avoid scams.
If you find acai berry powder in the nearest health food store and have no idea how to take advantage of this super powder, or you’re lucky to find frozen acai berries in a local supermarket, consider trying these popular recipes:
3 Popular Acai Berry Recipes
Acai Berry Breakfast Bowl
- 1 banana
- 3 tablespoons acai berries, frozen or fresh
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup granola
- 1 teaspoon goji berries, dried
- 1 teaspoon blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon raspberries, fresh or frozen
- A sprinkle of chia or hemp seeds
In a food processor, blend together the acai berries, banana, and almond milk for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.
Pour the smoothie into a bowl and tops with granola, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries, cranberries, and chia or/and hemp seeds.
Acai Berry Puree Breakfast Bowl
- 50 grams frozen unsweetened acai berry puree
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- ½ small banana
- ½ cup frozen mango chunks
- ¼ cup oats or granola
- 2 strawberries, sliced
- Drizzle of cinnamon
- Drizzle of honey
- A sprinkle of hemp seeds
Blend on high together with the spinach, acai berry puree, almond milk, banana, and mango until smooth, for about 20 seconds.
Pour into a bowl and top with the oats, strawberries, hemp seeds, cinnamon, and honey. Enjoy!
Antioxidant-Packed Acai Berry Smoothie
- 4 tablespoons acai powder
- ½ cup strawberries, frozen or fresh
- 1 banana, frozen
- ½ cup raspberries or cranberries, frozen or fresh
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon oats
Place all the ingredients, except hemp seeds, in your food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Top with the seeds and here you go!
You don’t have to eat acai every morning – at least once in a week should do just fine. I’d like to hear your thoughts, experiences, and recipes on acai berries and what is your favorite way to use it. Feel free to share in the comments!
Explore Appreciate Goods
- Organic Dates: Fun Facts, Health Benefits, History, Tips, Recipes
- 10 Healthy Organic Alternatives to Popular Potato Chips