Açai (Euterpe oleracea), pronounced ah-sigh-ee, is a small, round, purple fruit that is produced by a certain species of palm tree native to Brazil. Açai is an antioxidant-rich super-food currently considered by many to have the best nutritional value of any fruit on earth. Açai has traditionally been used for improving general health and well-being.1 Açai berries contain protein and fatty acids, as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, thiamine, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and iron.1 This fruit has been shown to have higher levels of antioxidants than raspberry, cranberry, blackberry, strawberry and blueberry.
1Açai contains high amounts of anthocyanins—water-soluble pigment compounds with potent antioxidant actions.1 Anthocyanins have some of the strongest physiological effects among plant compounds.
2 They may also aid the eyes and improve night vision. Other beneficial phytochemicals that have been identified in açai fruit include proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids and plant
sterols, including beta-sitosterol.
3,4 Açai fruit has been shown to have significantly high antioxidant protection against a variety of free radicals, especially for superoxide and peroxyl radicals.
5Recent studies have demonstrated that antioxidants in açai fruit are able to enter human cells in a fully functional form and neutralize free radicals even at low doses.
5 The antioxidant actions of açai fruit may also protect against abnormal cell growth and division. In a recent study, açai polyphenols were shown to have antiproliferative effects on human leukemia cells.
6 The antioxidant effects of anthocyanins such as those found in açai fruit have been associated with improved cardiovascular health. Increased levels of lipid peroxidation have been associated with cardiovascular disease
7 preliminary studies indicate that açai fruit decreases lipid peroxidation.
4 Anthocyanins such as those found in açai fruit are known to improve circulation by reducing capillary permeability and increasing the strength of microvessel walls. Other cardiovascular benefits include helping to prevent blood clots, improving circulation and preventing artherosclerosis. Plant sterols, such as those found in açai fruit, have been used to maintain cholesterol levels, aid the immune system and maintain a healthy prostate. Açai fruit may decrease inflammation by inhibiting specific enzymes that are involved in causing inflammation (COX-1 and COX-2).5 Thus açai may be helpful for individuals with joint pain and other inflammatory conditions.
1. Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, Batz f, Hitchens K, et al. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive
Database. 9th ed. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research faculty; 2007.
2. Health & Medicine on Squidoo. 2008. Available at: http://www.squidoo.com/açai-research Accessed October 8, 2008.
3. Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL, Ou B, Patel D, Huang D, Kababick JP. Phytochemical and nutrient composition of the freezedried
Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (açai). J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Nov 1;54(22):8604-10.
4. Jensen GS, Wu X, Patterson KM, Barnes J, Carter SG, Scherwitz L, Beaman R, Endres JR, Alexander SG. 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-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study. J. Agric Food Chem. 2008; 56, 8326-8333.
5. Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL, Ou B, Huang D, Owens J, Agarwal A, Jensen GS, Hart AN, Shanbrom E. Antioxidant capacity
and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (açai). J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Nov
6. Del Pozo-Insfran D, Percival SS, Talcott ST. Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone
forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 feb 22;54(4):1222-9.
7. Castelao J, Gago-Dominguez M. Risk factors for cardiovascular