Acai berries are considered to be one of the most beneficial fruits on earth. They have been used for centuries in South America as a natural remedy for many illnesses and diseases. Acai berry juice has become popular with people all over the world who want to stay healthy, lose weight, and just feel better about themselves. But what exactly is an acai berry? Plus, how can it help you achieve your goals? This article will answer those questions and more as we look at some of the benefits of this amazing fruit as well as the potential side effects that you should know about before deciding if it’s right for you.
What Are Acai Berries?
The acai berry is a fruit that grows on tall palm trees in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical regions of South America. Acai berries are round, dark purple fruits about the same size as a grape. The name acai comes from the Tupi Indian word “aka’i,” which means “good.” This name was given to the fruit by the native people of South America who have used acai berries in their daily lives for centuries.
Acai Berry Nutrition Facts
100 grams of frozen fruit pulp has the following nutritional breakdown (4):
- Calories: 75
- Fat: 6.3 grams
- Saturated fat: 0.8 grams
- Carbs: 5.4 grams
- Sugar: 1.1 grams
- Fiber: 3.8 grams
- Vitamin A: 2 % of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 13% of the RDI
- Iron: 2% of the RDI
Acai Berry Health Benefits
Many potential health benefits can be gained from whole acai berries. They include:
Incredibly High Amount Of Antioxidants
The acai berry is one of the fruits that is highest in antioxidants on earth (16). Antioxidants protect cells in the body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that contribute to illnesses and diseases in both men and women.
Enhances Energy Levels
Acai berries contain an incredible amount of nutrients including healthy fats, fiber, protein, carbs, and of course, antioxidants. All of these nutrients work together to provide you with an energy boost that lasts for hours.
Boosts Your Immune System
Acai berries contain several nutrients that work together to promote weight loss. These include high levels of fiber, protein, and healthy fatty acids as well as several other nutrients that regulate blood sugar levels (8). This combination will help you feel full longer so that you eat less each day and promote weight loss.
Improve Cholesterol Levels
The good fats, fiber, and protein in acai berries help to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol levels (9). This preserves the health of your heart and keeps arteries clear so that blood can flow freely throughout your body.
Boosts Energy Levels
Acai berries contain B vitamins including niacin, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (18). These vitamins work together to help produce energy in the body so that you feel alert and energized throughout the day.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agent
The antioxidants and omega fatty acids in acai berries all provide anti-inflammatory benefits for your joints (17) (13). This is great for people who have arthritis, fibromyalgia, or any other illness that contributes to inflammation in the body.
Boosts Brain Function
Acai berries are full of vitamins and nutrients that can boost brain function. These include vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters in the brain. Other nutrients like omega fatty acids help establish new connections in the brain so that it works more effectively (7).
Helps Treat Diabetes
The fiber content of acai berries helps to regulate blood sugar levels so that they don’t spike after a meal (10). This prevents cardiovascular diseases and decreases the risk of diabetes as well as insulin resistance.
May Help With Exercise-Induced Muscle Injury
Acai berry juice has been shown to reduce markers of exercise-induced muscle damage in athletes (11). More research is needed but this shows promise for athletes who are suffering from muscle injuries after strenuous workouts.
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Acai Berry Side Effects
As we mentioned earlier in this article, there are many potential benefits from using acai berries in your diet. However, it is not uncommon for people to experience some mild side effects when they are first starting with this fruit. The good news is that these side effects are temporary and should go away within a few days or weeks once your body has adjusted to the nutrients in the acai berry.
Here are some acai berry side effects that you might experience if you are using this fruit to lose weight or increase your energy levels:
People who use acai berries for an extended period may experience a dry mouth which is easily fixed by drinking more water throughout the day. You can also rinse your mouth with warm water to relieve any discomfort or dryness.
Some people also experience headaches when they first start using acai berries which is often the result of detoxification and elimination of toxins in your body. This headache should disappear within a few days as your body adjusts to the nutrients in the fruit.
Cramping And Diarrhea
Because acai berries work to cleanse your bowels and eliminate toxins in your digestive tract, it is normal for you to experience cramping and diarrhea when you first start using this fruit (1). You can relieve these effects by drinking more water throughout the day and reducing your fiber intake.
Acai Berry Side Effects That Require Medical Attention
Although most acai berry side effects are mild and temporary, some serious conditions can occur if you have pre-existing medical conditions or take medications at the same time as using this fruit. These conditions require immediate medical attention so that you can prevent further health problems.
Here are some side effects from consuming acai berries that require medical attention:
If you already have kidney stones, consult your doctor before using the acai berry to prevent any additional health problems. Kidney damage can occur due to high levels of oxalic acid that are found in acai berries (12).
Blood Sugar Spikes
People who have diabetes may experience blood sugar spikes after consuming acai juice or supplements since they can affect insulin levels and glucose metabolism. This will require immediate medical attention. Your doctor can adjust your medication to reduce these effects. If you take prescription medications, always consult your doctor before using any supplements.
Pregnancy And Nursing
Although more research is needed to determine whether or not acai juice has any benefits for pregnant women, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before using this fruit during pregnancy or nursing since the antioxidant levels may be high enough to cause damage to an unborn child or harm a nursing infant.
Is Acai Berry Juice The Same As The Whole Fruit?
Acai juice is becoming very popular with people who want to lose weight because they believe it will provide them with many of the same benefits as the whole fruit, plus help them to feel full longer.
Acai juice is made from a blend of acai berries and other fruit juices. This mixture gives acai juice a slightly sweeter taste than the whole fruit, but it also contains many nutrients that are destroyed during the juicing process. For example, one cup of unsweetened acai juice provides approximately the same amount of antioxidants as blueberries, oranges, and strawberries. However, it has no fiber, which is beneficial for weight loss.
In fact, due to added sweeteners and the lack of fiber, most acai juices will add more calories than they subtract. This is why you should always read the label and look for a juice that contains 100% pure acai juice with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Also, acai juice contains less antioxidants than acai pulp (15).
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What About The Concentrated Extract?
Many companies use a concentrated extract of acai berry to produce dietary supplements. These include pills, capsules, and powders that can be mixed with water or other foods such as yogurt.
These products usually contain a much higher level of antioxidants than the juice. However, they also contain a different set of nutrients and may not provide all of the same benefits as whole acai fruit.
How Can You Get All The Nutrients From Acai Berries?
The best way to get maximum nutrition from these berries is by eating them whole. This means that the pulp must be broken down by your body.
Even when they are not in season, whole frozen berries can be purchased online or in health food stores. You can also freeze whole berries yourself. Berries that are frozen while fresh contain the same amount of antioxidants as fresh berries. When you freeze whole acai berries at the peak of ripeness they will contain even more nutrients.
You should eat acai berries with foods that contain healthy fats because this will help your body absorb all of the nutrients.
Some people like to add them to their cereal or yogurt in the morning, but you can also blend them into a smoothie or juice for breakfast so they will absorb more easily. You can also add acai berries to a salad, soup, or pasta instead of using tomato sauce.
To make an acai bowl:
- Mix one cup of acai puree with half a cup of frozen blueberries, milk (or milk substitute), and sweeteners.
- Top it with granola, sliced bananas, strawberries, or other fruit for an extra boost of antioxidants.
Acai Berry Recipes
Below are simple acai berry recipes you can try out:
Acai Berry Truffles (2)
- 1⁄3 cup acai powder
- 1½ Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp cacao powder
- 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
- ¾ cup (packed) soft Medjool dates (about 7 or 8), pits removed
- 1 Tbsp raw or roasted smooth almond butter
- Sea salt
- 2 Tbsp cacao nibs
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, except the cacao nibs. Process until a dense dough forms.
- Add in the cacao nibs and pulses a few times.
- Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a platter. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Serve chilled so that the Truffles are not too soft. You can roll the balls in acai powder before refrigerating if you like.
Acai Coconut Cream Chocolate Cups (3)
- 3 cups Semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
- 1 can Full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tbsp Pure Organic Açai
- ½ to ¾ cup Strawberries
- 1 tbsp Pure maple syrup
- To prepare the acai coconut cream, add all the ingredients into a blender except the chocolate chips. Blend until smooth.
- Melt 1 ½ cups of the chips in the microwave for about one and a half minutes.
- Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners then add a layer of the melted chocolate at the bottom of each of the liners. Place in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the Bottom layer to harden up.
- Add the acai coconut cream mixture on top of the chocolate layer and freeze for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- While you wait, melt the other 1 ½ cup of chips in your microwave.
- Add the melted chocolate on top of the acai cream.
- Place in the freezer for about 5 to 10 minutes so that the chocolate hardens. Enjoy!
Servings: 12 cups
Avocado Acai Smoothie Bowl (5)
- ½ cup acai pulp (100g packets for the ones that come in packets)
- 1½ cups coconut water
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ medium avocado
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- Add the acai pulp, almond milk, coconut water, avocado and coconut oil to a blender. Blend together then taste. If you like, you can add the sweetener.
- Pour into your smoothie jars, add toppings of your choice then enjoy.
Nutrition facts (per half-serving): 177 calories, 19 g carbs, 3 g protein, 10 g fat, 6 g fiber
Acai Yogurt Parfait (6)
- 8 large strawberries, fresh, wholes
- 2 tbsp cashews, whole, roasted.
- 100 grams acai, frozen puree, zero sugar
- 1 1/3 cups Greek Yogurt, plain, unsweetened, whole milk
- 1 teaspoon Lakanto monkfruit sweetener with erythritol
- In a saucepan, warm the acai puree and ½ teaspoon of the sweetener to steaming. You can reduce the heat, so that it doesn’t boil. Heat for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken. Remove from heat and let it cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- As the acai cools, toss the sliced strawberries with the sweetener and set aside.
- In your jar, layer the parfait. First, fill ⅓ of the jar with yoghurt, top with one tablespoon of acai puree and a ¼ of the strawberries. Repeat these layers in the other jar then top each parfait with ½ oz cashew nuts
Nutrition facts: 334 calories, 5.4 g carbs, 10.6 g protein, 17.5 g fat, 4.1 g fiber
The Bottom Line
The benefits of acai berries are still being studied, but you can maximize your daily intake of these antioxidants by adding acai berries to whole foods like oatmeal, yogurt, salad, brown rice pudding, and soup. To get antioxidants that haven’t been destroyed by the juicing process, you can also look for acai juice made from 100% pure acai berries with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- Acai Pulp (n.f, nutritionix.com)
- Acai Smoothie Recipe – The Gracious Pantry (n.d., thegraciouspantry.com)
- Acai-Yogurt Parfait Recipe (n.d., atkins.com)
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