The açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea, pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is indigenous to Central and South America. The fruit produced by the açaí palm is small, round, deeply purple, and similar in appearance to a grape. Traditionally, açaí berries are crushed to make a paste (pulp) and a juice.
Açaí berries are very perishable and it is not possible to ship fresh berries to the U.S. Recently, frozen açaí berries have become available outside of Brazil. The nutrients in the berries degrade rapidly, beginning within hours of harvest. Freezing helps to slow the degradation.
The antioxidant activity of açaí berry juice is approximately equal to the activity of other fruit juices. Concord grape, blueberry, and black cherry juices have higher levels of antioxidants than açaí juice; açaí juice has higher levels of antioxidants than cranberry, orange, and apple juices.1 In one study, purple açaí pulp was found to provide antioxidant protection against peroxyl radicals and peroxynitrite but not against hydroxyl radicals.2
In the U.S. and Europe, açaí supplements are made from the fruit which is usually freeze dried. Açaí juice or juice cocktails are also available.
Açaí supplements and juices contain polyphenolic compounds (particularly anthocyanins) and act as antioxidants.3,4 Short-term studies indicate an acute increase in plasma antioxidant capacity occurs after intake of açaí berry juice or pulp.5
Although açaí drinks and supplements have been marketed for weight loss, enlargement of the penis, reversing diabetes, and increasing men’s virility and sexual attractiveness, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
Açaí juices and juice cocktails usually recommend 2 to 4 oz/day; supplements typically come in 250 to 1500 mg capsules. No scientific evidence has been collected to determine an appropriate daily dosage.
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, study.
This study investigated the effects of a proprietary juice blend on antioxidant capacity. The juice blend contains predominantly açaí berry juice but also contains white grape, Nashi pear, acerola, aronia, purple grape, cranberry, passion fruit, apricot, prune, kiwifruit, blueberry, wolfberry, pomegranate, lychee, camu camu, pear, banana, and bilberry in decreasing order. The juice blend contains phytochemical antioxidants including anthocyanins (predominantly cyanidin 3-rutoside, cyanidin 3-diglycoside, and cyanidin 3-glucoside). Twelve healthy adults (aged 19 to 52 years) consumed 4 oz juice blend or a placebo and blood samples were collected at baseline, one hour and two hours; all participants consumed the placebo and the juice blend on different days with a one week washout period. Antioxidant and lipid peroxidation assays were conducted. A within-subject comparison was used to account for intraindividual variation in antioxidant status following fasting. The within-subject comparison showed an increase in serum antioxidants at 1 hour (p < 0.03) and 2 hours (p < 0.015) after consumption of the juice blend, based on cell-based antioxidant protection of erythrocytes (CAP-e). Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances assay (TBARS) indicated inhibition of lipid peroxidation at 2 hours (p < 0.01) after consumption of the juice blend. This small pilot study suggests that the in vitro antioxidant activity of açaí may translate to in vivo antioxidant activity in humans. 6
Açaí juice, pulp, and possibly powder contain antioxidants. The antioxidant activity of the juices has been studied and appears to increase plasma antioxidant capacity for a short time (at least 2 hours) after consumption.
Other advertised uses including weight loss, penis enlargement, increasing men’s virility and sexual attractiveness, and reversing diabetes have not been studied.
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