Acai Berry Health & Wellness Weight Loss

Acai Berry without definitive scientific support

Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea) with Acai Berries

You’ ve probably all heard of Acai Berry (Açaí Berry). They are being sold in an aggressive manner by companies which claim they are superfood with anti-aging and weight loss properties. They come in all shapes and sizes and are sold in many fields including cosmetics. Therefore, acai berry caught our attention and we decided to investigate whether science can back the marketed acai benefits.

What is acai berry?

Acai berry come from acai palm (Euterpe oleracea a.k.a. Cabbage palm) which is a species of palm tree cultivated for their fruit. The fruit of Euterpe oleraceae, commonly known as acai, is round, about 25 mm long with green or deep purple color (depending on its maturity) [1]. Alexander G. Schauss and colleagues [2] reported that 100 grams of dry powder contain 533.9 calories, 52.2 g carbohydrates, 8.1 g protein, and 32.5 g total fat. They also found three sterols in a freeze-dried acai: beta-sitosterol (cca. 80% of all sterol content), campasterol and sigmasterol. It also has high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenolics (mainly from anthocyanin) [3].

Can acai berry help you lose weight?

Acai Berry Fruit

The hyped up berry has found its way into all sorts of products from juices and powders to beauty products. According to Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database web site [4]: “No independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss. Researchers who investigated the safety profile of an acai-fortified juice in animals observed that there were no body weight changes in rats given the juice compared with controls.”

Some companies misused celebrity names like Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz to promote açaí weight loss pills online. It was noted in The New York Times article that a disclaimer was added to Oprahs web site where it states that she is not associated with nor does she endorse any açaí berry product. [5]

Açaí berry as antioxidant and anti-aging agent?

Despite the attention, there is little to back up the extravagant claims made about acai. While it has been shown that berry does contain antioxidants [3,6] there are no long-term studies proving that açaí removes wrinkles or remove toxins from the body.

Acai berry juice vs other juices

Pic. 1 – antioxidant potency composite index of ready-to-drink polyphenol-rich antioxidant beverages

One study evaluated the antioxidant effects of various juices and found that the most potent antioxidant beverages are pomegranate juice followed by red wine, concord grape juice and blueberry juice [7]. The antioxidant capacity of acai berry juice was roughly equivalent to black cherry juice (Pic. 1) [7].

References

  1. Marcason, Wendy. “What Is the Açaí Berry and Are There Health Benefits?.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109.11 (2009): 1968-1968.
  2. Schauss, Alexander G., et al. “Phytochemical and nutrient composition of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart.(Acai).” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 54.22 (2006): 8598-8603.
  3. Hassimotto, Neuza Mariko Aymoto, Maria Inés Genovese, and Franco Maria Lajolo. “Antioxidant activity of dietary fruits, vegetables, and commercial frozen fruit pulps.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 53.8 (2005): 2928-2935.
  4. Acai. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acai/ataglance.htm on 15. April 2013.
  5. Ellin, Abbey (12 March 2009). “Pressing Açaí for Answers”. The New York Times.
  6. Schauss, Alexander G., et al. “Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart.(acai).” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54.22 (2006): 8604-8610.
  7. Seeram, Navindra P., et al. “Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 56.4 (2008): 1415-1422.

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