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Acai Berry

Acai Berry Review

What is Acai Berry?

Acai Berry is a small, black-purple edible fruit that comes from the açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea Mart.), that is native to South America. The Acai berry has become an extremely popular health supplement because of it's high antioxidant capacity. The Acai Berry is often promoted as a "Super Food" and has been widely marketed for osteoarthritis, weight loss, anti-aging, high cholesterol, detoxification and more. Recently it has been promoted as a miracle weight loss supplement. Whilst acai berry appears to have a number of health benefits including a protective effect against artherosclerosis, cholesterol lowering effect, anti-inflammatory properties, and a possible neuroprotective effect, there is currently no evidence to support its use as a weight loss supplement.

Who may benefit from Acai Berry?

The Acai Berry has been shown to have potent antioxidant capacity. Acai berry appears to have a number of health benefits including a neuro-protective effect, anti-inflammatory properties, may be beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis, a protective effect against hardening of the arteries, cholesterol lowering properties, protection against DNA damage. However, there is currently no definitive research to back up most of the claims with regards to acai berry consumption and rapid weight loss.

Summary of Acai Berries Phyiological Effects:

  • Acai Berry has been demonstrated to have a potent antioxidant effect
  • It may help to reduce the level of certain markers of metabolic disease
  • Acai Berry can help to lower cholesterol levels
  • Appears to reduce pain levels in inflammatory joint diseases
  • Acai Berry has shown the ability to improve the range of motion in people with inflammatory joint diseases
  • Current research does not support the use of Acai Berry for use as a weight loss product
  • Acai berry may have a neuro-protective effect
  • Protects against damage to DNA
  • Helps to preserve antioxidant levels within the liver

Acai Berry Research

Research has shown that Acai Berry has a potent antioxidant capacity (Schaus et al., 2006; Jensen et al., 2008; Honzel et al., 2008) that has been demonstrated to increase the antioxidant status in humans (Jensen et al., 2011;Jensen et al., 2008). The antioxidant capacity of Acai Berry has been measured at 102,700 Total ORAC units (μmol TE/100 g) per 100g of acai powder. This is currently the highest recorded anti-oxidant value of any fruit or vegetable. Although this level is considered to be very high it is still lower than a number of other sources of more affordable antioxidants, including: Turmeric (127,068 μmol TE/100 g), Cinnamon (131,420 μmol TE/100 g), and red grape pomace extracts (245,000 μmol TE/100 g). Because Acai has such a high antioxidant capacity - ability to protect against the damaging effects of free radicals - it is often marketed as a "Super Food".

Acai Berry and brain health
Acai berry appears to have a protective effect on brain cells through a combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity (Poulouse et al., 2012; Spada et al., 2009). Research suggests that acai berry may have a protective effect against age-related neurodegenerative diseases and the role that free-radicals and inflammation play in their development.

Acai's anti-inflammatory properties
A number of studies have shown that Acai berry appears to have potent anti-inflammatory properties (Moura et al., 2012; Noratto et al., 2011; Xie et al., 2011; Kang et al., 2010; Jensen et al., 2011 & 2008). Research suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of Acai berry may even lead to reductions in pain and improvements in the range of movement (Jensen et al., 2011). The anti-inflammatory properties of Acai appear to be related to the pressence of certain polyphenols, which not only protect against oxidative stress but appear to have an inhibitory effect on the production of free radicals.

Acai berry artherosclerosis and cholesterol levels
Acai bery appears to have a protective effect against artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) (Feio et al., 2011; Xie et al., 2011;). In addition acai can reduce lipid peroxidation (Xie et al., 2011) and blood lipid/cholesterol levels (Udani et al., 2011; de Souza 2010; Feio et al., 2010;). Importantly acai appears to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) without reducing HDL-cholesterol levels (Udani et al., 2010; de Souza 2010; ).

Anti-cancer properties of Acai berry
Acai Berries have beeen shown in the laboratory to posses potential anti-cancer properties. Research suggests that acai berries appear to have the potential to attenuate the proliferation (increase in cancer cell growth and cell division) of some types of cancer cells (Stoner et al., 2010; Del Pozo-Insfran et al., 2006).

Acai Berry and weight loss
With regard to Acai Berry and weight loss there is to date no independent studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, that support the use of Acai berry as a weight loss supplement. There have been recent studies that demonstrate Acai Berries ability to reduce the mean fasting glucose levels, mean plasma insulin levels, and lower total cholesterol levels (Udani et al., 2011). Whilst this sounds promising it should be noted that the amount of Acai berrry consumed was significant (100g twice daily).

Other Health benefits of acai berry
Some of the other health benefits attributed to acai berry include: protection against DNA damage (Ribeiro et al 2010), may be beneficial in the treatment of metabolic syndrome (de Oliveira et al., 2010), may protect against damage caused by ciggarette smoke (Moura et al., 2012), helps to preserve levels of antioxidants within the liver (Guerra et al., 2011) and may even be beneficial for asthma (Holderness et al., 2010).

Is Acai Berry effective?

Acai appears to have a number of potential health benefits including an anti-inflammatory effect, improvement in range of movement, and cholesterol lowering properties. However, there is no current research to back up the claims regarding Acai Berry and rapid weight loss. A more Cost effective alternative to acai berry is Turmeric

How to take Acai Berry?

Although Acai Berry appears to be safe and free of side effects (Schauss et al., 2010) there's currently insufficient evidence to support it's use for weight loss. There is currently insufficient research regarding acai consumption in humans.

Acai Berry Safety

Acai berry appears to be safe and well tolerated (Schauss et al., 2010) allthough further research is required

Acai Berry References

de Oliveira PR, da Costa CA, de Bem GF, de Cavalho LC, de Souza MA, de Lemos Neto M, da Cunha Sousa PJ, de Moura RS, Resende AC. (2010) Effects of an extract obtained from fruits of Euterpe oleracea Mart. in the components of metabolic syndrome induced in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2010 Dec;56(6):619-26.

de Souza MO, Silva M, Silva ME, Oliveira Rde P, Pedrosa ML. (2010) Diet supplementation with acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp improves biomarkers of oxidative stress and the serum lipid profile in rats. Nutrition. 2010 Jul-Aug;26(7-8):804-10. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Feio CA, Izar MC, Ihara SS, Kasmas SH, Martins CM, Feio MN, Maués LA, Borges NC, Moreno RA, Póvoa RM, Fonseca FA. (2011) Euterpe Oleracea (Açai) Modifies Sterol Metabolism and Attenuates Experimentally-Induced Atherosclerosis. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2011 Dec 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Guerra JF, Magalhães CL, Costa DC, Silva ME, Pedrosa ML. (2011) Dietary açai modulates ROS production by neutrophils and gene expression of liver antioxidant enzymes in rats. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2011 Nov;49(3):188-94. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Holderness J, Schepetkin IA, Freedman B, Kirpotina LN, Quinn MT, Hedges JF, Jutila MA. (2011) Polysaccharides isolated from Açaí fruit induce innate immune responses. PLoS One. 2011 Feb 28;6(2):e17301.

Jensen, G. S., Ager, D. M., Redman, K. A., Mitzner, M. A., Benson, K. F., and Schauss, A. G. (2011).Pain Reduction and Improvement in Range of Motion After Daily Consumption of an Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) Pulp–Fortified Polyphenolic-Rich Fruit and Berry Juice Blend. J Med Food. July; 14(7-8): 702–711.

Jensen GS, Wu X, Patterson KM, Barnes J, Carter SG, Scherwitz L, Beaman R, Endres JR, Schauss AG. (2008)In vitro and in vivo antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities of an antioxidant-rich fruit and berry juice blend. Results of a pilot and randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Agric Food Chem. 56:8326–8333.

Honzel D. Carter SG. Redman KA, et al. (2008) Comparison of chemical and cell-based antioxidant methods for evaluation of foods and natural products: generating multifaceted data by parallel testing using erythrocytes and polymorphonuclear cells. J Agric Food Chem. 56:8319–8325.

Kang J. Li Z. Wu T, et al. (2010) Antioxidant capacities and anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoid compounds from açai pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) Food Chem.122:610–617.

Moura RS, Ferreira TS, Lopes AA, Pires KM, Nesi RT, Resende AC, Souza PJ, Silva AJ, Borges RM, Porto LC, Valenca SS. (2012) Effects of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (AÇAÍ) extract in acute lung inflammation induced by cigarette smoke in the mouse. Phytomedicine. 2012 Feb 15;19(3-4):262-9. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

Noratto GD, Angel-Morales G, Talcott ST, Mertens-Talcott SU. (2011) Polyphenolics from açaí ( Euterpe oleracea Mart.) and red muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia ) protect human umbilical vascular Endothelial cells (HUVEC) from glucose- and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation and target microRNA-126. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7999-8012. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Del Pozo-Insfran D, Percival SS, Talcott ST. (2006). Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells. J Agric Food Chem.54:1222–9.

Poulose SM, Fisher DR, Larson J, Bielinski DF, Rimando AM, Carey AN, Schauss AG, Shukitt-Hale B. (2012) Anthocyanin-rich açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) fruit pulp fractions attenuate inflammatory stress signaling in mouse brain BV-2 microglial cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Feb 1;60(4):1084-93. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Ribeiro JC, Antunes LM, Aissa AF, Darin JD, De Rosso VV, Mercadante AZ, Bianchi Mde L. (2009) Evaluation of the genotoxic and antigenotoxic effects after acute and subacute treatments with açai pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) on mice using the erythrocytes micronucleus test and the comet assay. Mutat Res. 2010 Jan;695(1-2):22-8. Epub 2009 Nov 3.

Schauss AG, Clewell A, Balogh L, Szakonyi IP, Financsek I, Horváth J, Thuroczy J, Béres E, Vértesi A, Hirka G. (2010) Safety evaluation of an açai-fortified fruit and berry functional juice beverage (MonaVie Active(®)).Toxicology. 2010 Nov 28;278(1):46-54. Epub 2010 May 7.

Schauss AG. Wu X. Prior RL. Ou B, et al. (2006) Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (açai) J Agricul Food Chem. 54:8604–8610.

Spada PD, Dani C, Bortolini GV, Funchal C, Henriques JA, Salvador M. (2009) Frozen fruit pulp of Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (Acai) prevents hydrogen peroxide-induced damage in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and hippocampus of rats. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1084-8.

Stoner GD. Foodstuffs for preventing cancer: the preclinical and clinical development of berries. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa) 2009;2:187–94.

Udani, J. K, Singh, B. B., Singh, V. J. and Barrett, M. L. (2011). Effects of Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: A pilot study. Nutr J. 2011; 10: 45.

Xie C, Kang J, Burris R, Ferguson ME, Schauss AG, Nagarajan S, Wu X. (2011) Açaí juice attenuates atherosclerosis in ApoE deficient mice through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Atherosclerosis. 2011 Jun;216(2):327-33. Epub 2011 Feb 24.