Acai Berry supplement extract benefit and antioxidant content, will it help you lose weight? by Ray Sahelian, M.D. Avoid the scams
July 22 2014

The acai berry is found in the Amazon forest and is promoted as having very powerful antioxidant properties. Euterpe oleraceae is a large palm tree indigenous to the Amazon river and its tributaries in South America. Its fruit is of great economic value to native people. The berry is purple colored and small and comes from a palm tree known by the Brazilians as "the tree of life." It was about the year 2000 that it was introduced to the Western market.

Nutrient composition, nutritional value
One study analyzed a standardized freeze-dried acai fruit pulp / skin powder. Among many findings, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and other flavonoids were found to be the major phytochemicals. The total content of anthocyanins was measured as 3 mg per gram of dry weight. The concentration of total proanthocyanidins was calculated as 13 mg/g dry weight. Other flavonoids, namely, homoorientin, orientin, isovitexin, scoparin, and taxifolin deoxyhexose, along with several unknown flavonoids, were also detected. Resveratrol was found but at a very low concentration. In addition, components including fatty acids, amino acids, sterols, minerals, and other nutrients were analyzed and quantified. Total polyunsaturated fatty acid, total monounsaturated fatty acid, and total saturated fatty acids contributed to 11%, 60%, and 28% of total fatty acid. Oleic acid (53%) and palmitic acid (26%) were found to be the two dominant fatty acids. The total amino acid content was determined to be 7% of total weight. The total sterols accounted for 0.05% by weight of powder. The three sterols B-sitosterol, campesterol, and sigmasterol were identified.

Review and summary, should you take it?
Human studies with acai fruit or extract are scant, therefore no firm statements can be made regarding the clinical uses of this plant. However, eating acai berries or taking a supplement as part of a healthy diet seems to be a reasonable way to improve overall health.

Acai Berry supplement extract product 500 mg, 90 capsules, this is a 4:1 extract
Goji berry supplement capsules wolfberry lycium barbarumPomegranate supplement capsules from juice and seed, ellagic acidThis acai berry supplement is for those who do not wish to consume the extra calories from the juice or drink. The r
aw material is from the best sources possible, and try to have it fully organic.

 

Dosage
There are no official guidelines on the proper dosage of acai extract capsules. Hardly any human studies have been done with the berry, juice or capsules. As a general rule, taking one to three acai extract capsule a few times a week seems reasonable and should be quite a safe dose.

 

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Acai berry benefit, how can it help you

Anemia
I have not come across research regarding its influence on hemoglobin. As a general rule, the influence of an herb or supplement on various aspects of human physiology and biochemistry depends largely on the dose and amount use.

Anti-inflammation
Compounds in it have been found to have cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 inhibitor activity.

Antioxidant and free radical scavenging
Apparently the dark purple skin has many times the anthocyanin content as red wine. The antioxidants may benefit some health conditions but research in humans is quite limited. Human research is required before learning the potential benefit for medical conditions or prevention of health problems. There is not evidence at this time that the use of this product will help you lose weight. The antioxidants in acai berry are easily absorbed into the bloodstream and raise their levels and activity quite quickly. There are literally thousands of plant substances and extracts, along with nutrients, that have anti-oxidant benefit, for instance all berries, and Acetylcysteine, which is probably more potent.

Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp in human healthy volunteers.
J Agric Food Chemistry. 2008.
This study was performed with acai pulp and clarified juice compared to applesauce. Healthy volunteers were dosed at 7 mL/kg of body weight. Plasma antioxidant capacity was significantly increased by the acai pulp and applesauce.

ORAC value, how important is it?
The ORAC value can vary significantly from crop to crop and method of harvesting, storage, encapsulation, etc. But acai does have a high ORAC value and it is not too important for practical health reasons to know exactly what the number is for a fruit, vegetable, herb, or supplement. Measurements of oxygen radical absorbance capacity on freeze-dried acai pulp and skin powders have been done for each of four reactive oxygen species (ROS) - superoxide, peroxynitrite, hydroxyl radical and peroxyl radical for both hydrophilic- and lipid-soluble species. The assay for superoxide, considered perhaps the most representative determination of antioxidant capacity, revealed a value of 161,400 units per 100 g, the highest result yet found for superoxide radical among plant foods. Total ORAC determined from both hydrophilic and lipophilic sources was 102,700 units per 100 g, again the highest value found to date among edible fruits and vegetables for this radical. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae. J Agric Food Chem. 2006.

Which fruit juice is more powerful with regards to overall health benefit and it's antioxident level, mangosteen or the acai berry.
   Although people seem to focus on ORAC values, there are many other substances in herbs and plants that have beneficial effects. I prefer alternating the use of different herbs and not to rely on just one. For instance one can have several different good herbal supplements and each day take a different one. Some of the ones that come to mind include acai berry, cocoa, curcumin, goji berry, green tea extract, mangosteen, graviola, and pomegranate. This way benefits from the various herbs can be taken advantage of and the body is exposed to a variety of helpful substances without overdosing.

Anti-aging, at least in flies, protection of DNA from damage
Açai palm fruit pulp improves survival of flies on a high fat diet.
Exp Gerontol. 2010. Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD.
Acai is rich in phytochemicals that possesses high anti-oxidant activities, and has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease properties. We evaluated the effect of açai pulp on modulating lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster. We found that supplementation at 2% in the food increased the lifespan of female flies fed a high fat diet compared to the non-supplemented control.

Blood thinning
It has flavonoids which are known to thin the blood, however no clinical human studies could be identified evaluating its role in coagulation.

Blood vessel vasodilator and health
Polyphenols in acai berry have the ability to act as vasodilators, which means they can dilate blood vessels. This perhaps could be of benefit in conditions where blood vessel dilation is needed. They could potentially be of benefit in reducing the risk for hardening of the arteries.

Euterpe oleracea modifies sterol metabolism and attenuates experimentally-induced atherosclerosis. Department of Medicine, Federal University of Para, Brazil.  Atheroscler Thromb. 2012.
In rabbits, consumption of acai extract improved the lipid profile and reduced the risk for atherosclerosis.

Endothelium-dependent vasodilator effect of Euterpe oleracea extracts in mesenteric vascular bed of the rat. Vascul Pharmacol. 2006.
The vasodilator effect of acai extract is dependent on activation of nitric oxide -cGMP pathway and may also involve endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor release. The vasodilator effect suggest a possibility to use it as a medicinal plant in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer prevention
Acai pulp provided to mice reduced the risk of bladder cancer. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2012. Inhibition of mouse urinary bladder carcinogenesis by acai fruit (Euterpe oleraceae) intake. Post-Graduation Program in Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, UNESP Sao Paulo State University, Botucatu, SP, Brazil.

Health of the body
Nutr J. 2011. Effects of Acai berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: a pilot study. In this uncontrolled pilot study, consumption of acai fruit pulp reduced levels of selected markers of metabolic disease risk in overweight adults, indicating that further studies are warranted.

Lung health
The results suggests that systemic administration of an acai extract reduces the inflammatory and oxidant actions of cigarette smoke. Phytomedicine. 2012. Effects of Euterpe oleracea extract in acute lung inflammation induced by cigarette smoke in the mouse. Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Osteoarthritis and arthritis
Fourteen patients drank 120 ml of acai juice daily for 12 weeks. There was a decline in pain as well as improvements in range of motion. Antioxidant levels were improved. Pain Reduction and Improvement in Range of Motion After Daily Consumption of an Euterpe oleracea Pulp–Fortified Polyphenolic-Rich Fruit and Berry Juice Blend. J Med Food. 2011.

Weight loss scam?
Does the acai berry supplement aid in weight loss, as i have seen an advertisement in a magazine, which quoted celebrities.
   I have not seen any human studies regarding acai berry use and weight loss. I doubt if this fruit or extract will help people lose weight. This could easily be a scam.

I recently purchased acai berry supplement pills and was wondering if it'll be harmful to take it with colon cleanse? Some sites I have seen suggest that weight loss can be achieved in this way.
    There are many herbal products on the market that claim to have "colon cleanse" properties and it is not possible to determine the interactions since each product could have different effects depending on the ingredients and potency of the herbal formulation.

The Federal Trade Commission is suing the marketers of AcaiPure and colon supplement colopure for consumer fraud. The products advertised on radio, television and the Internet for as little as 99 cents shipping feature fake endorsements by U.S. television talk show diva Oprah Winfrey and celebrity lifestyle host Rachel Ray. The defendants promised buyers a 'risk free' trial and then illegally billed their credit cards again and again. Since 2007, more than 2,800 complaints have been filed against Phoenix-based Central Coast Nutraceuticals Inc. with law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau. Consumers allegedly were scammed out of more than $30 million in 2009 through deceptive advertising and unfair billing practices.

Letter from a Brazil resident
I am from Brazil and I've been to the Amazon a few times. Its a very strong tasty berry, that no one eats raw. We drink the frozen pulp with water or mixed with sugar and banana like a very soft icy paste, resembling a sorbet, although in the north of Brazil some people eat it as food dishes, with salty assortments (either way people squash the fruits and freeze the juice still in the Amazon state, then sell it to producers of the final ice cream we eat). Because it has a strong and a bit earthy taste, its usually a love-it-or-leave-it. I love it from childhood we know its a strong fruit, know for good fatty acids, vitamins, and for being highly energetic (i.e. can make you fat if you eat too much). I've never heard in 20 years eating it everywhere, that it helps you lose weight. For me, this is one more proof of how marketing skills and not-so ethical people are making everyday more false promises, specially in the US and that sometimes (I think it's not the case with acai supplements though) can pose serious risks to consumer's health. As you put it, it's a healthy addition to someone's diet, not a miraculous berry that will make you lose many pounds of fat.

Supplement availability
Acai is sold as capsules, juice, pulp, and puree. You can open a capsule and place the contents in a smoothie with other fruit juices.

What do you think of Monavie products? Are they reliable?
   Monavie is a company that has acai berry juice products. Promoters are making it seem that this berry is far superior to others. I think all berries are healthy to eat and it is a good idea to have a variety of them rather than the same one all the time.

Side effects, safety, risks, danger, toxicity
As of 2014 no major acai berry side effects or adverse reactions have been reported in the medical literature.

Is an acai berry supplement product safe for people with high blood pressure or kidney disease?
   Human studies are not available to determine whether it is safe in those with medical conditions. Thus far it appears that there are no problems, but this opinion is based on our feedback from users as opposed to scientific studies.

Eating acai berry makes me constipated and bloated.
   This is the first report we have had regarding these symptoms. Perhaps it is coincidence and related to something else.

Toxicity not present
Evaluation of the genotoxic and antigenotoxic effects after acute and subacute treatments with acai pulp on mice using the erythrocytes micronucleus test and the comet assay.
Mutat Res. 2010.
There were no statistically significant differences between the negative control and the groups treated with the three doses of acai pulp alone in all endpoints analyzed, demonstrating the absence of genotoxic effects. The protective effects were observed in both acute and subacute treatments, when administered prior to doxorubicin. In general, subacute treatment provided greater efficiency in protecting against doxorubicin -induced DNA damage in liver and kidney cells.

Use by children
Is this supplement ok for my daughter who is 12 to take?
   We have not seen any studies regarding the use of this product in children or teenagers, but we do not suspect that there would be any problems. Nevertheless, it is up to parents along with their health care provider to make the final decision regarding the use of any supplements for their kids.