Acai is an Amazonian palm tree whose fruit is prized worldwide. The acai berry has many health benefits. Known as a “super fruits“, the small berry contains vitamins, minerals and powerful natural active ingredients. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity that gives it protective effects at different levels of the body.
Origin, habitat and culture
From its scientific name Euterpe oleracea, acai is a species of palm native to South America. Also known as the pinot palm, this species is famous for its reddish-violet berries. Acai berries, commonly known as acai or wassaï, have been used in South America since pre-Columbian times.
The name açaí comes from the term içá-çai, which was given by the Brazilian Tupi tribe. It means “weeping fruit” in reference to the extraction of the pulp of the acai berry: it comes out slowly in a way that can make you think of tears.
Beyond the berries, the indigenous populations of South America have also taken an interest in other parts of the palm tree. For example, the leaves and roots are traditionally used to treat snake bites, fever or kidney and liver pain.
The scientific community’s interest in acai is relatively recent. In the 2000s, dozens of studies confirmed the multiple virtues of acai berries. Described as a “super fruit” or “super food”, acai berries have today widely demonstrated their health benefits.
Acai is a palm tree that grows wild in the rainforests of the Amazon. It is found particularly in the flooded areas of the Amazon basin. The growth of the palm is slow.
Brazil is known to be one of the main exporters of acai berries. Acai berries can be harvested all year round, with a peak during the dry season from July to December.
Appearance, composition and size
Acai is a palm tree that produces several stems, each up to 20 metres high. When mature, the slender trunks are grey and have a diameter of 7 to 20 centimetres. The roots of the palm are visible and appear like a skirt at the base of the stems.
The crown of the palm consists of 8 to 14 leaves, each measuring 2 to 4 metres in length. Lower down on the trunk, long stems can be seen on which purple to brown flowers will develop.
The flowers of the palm then give way to acai berries: drupes 2 centimetres in diameter with a purple colouring when ripe.
Native populations in South America have identified the strengths of different parts of the acai. Today, it is mainly the berries that are attracting interest for their virtues. They are offered in different forms.
In particular, we find acai juice and food supplements. These have been developed to offer an optimal concentration of nutrients and active ingredients.
Acai berries have a high nutritional value and contain natural active ingredients. They contain, among other things, the following elements:
- Vitamins including vitamins A and C,
- Minerals such as calcium and iron,
- Polyphenols including flavonoids and anthocyanins.
Properties and desired effects
Antioxidant and anti-aging power
Acai berries contain several polyphenols with natural antioxidant power, i.e. compounds capable of counteracting the damage caused by oxidative stress. The accumulation of oxidative species in the body is strongly implicated in the premature ageing of the organism. Natural antioxidants found in acai berries include cyanidine-3-glucoside, cyanidine-3-rutinoside, quercetin and oriental.
In addition to their antioxidant power, the polyphenols presented above also have anti-inflammatory activity. They are capable of reducing the expression of certain inflammation mediators.
The polyphenols in acai berries can thus counteract both cell damage and inflammatory disorders. Studies have shown that they could be of interest in preventing and combating various diseases, including cardiovascular pathologies, neurological diseases and certain cancers.
Possible benefits against metabolic disorders
Benefits have also been observed in combating certain metabolic disorders such as obesity and hyperlipidemia.
To date, there are no specific recommendations on this subject. For supplementation, dosages and dosages are based on the traditional use of acai berries and the latest scientific data. The dosage can be between 900 and 1200 mg of extract per day. However, it is advisable to refer to the indications on the food supplements as the concentration of active ingredients can vary according to the extracts used. In case of doubt, medical advice is recommended.
Contraindication, danger(s) and side effect(s)
Contraindications: To date, no contraindications have been identified. As a precautionary measure, acai food supplements are not recommended for children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. In case of doubt, medical advice is recommended.
Side effects: No major side effects to date have been reported with acai food supplements. There is no risk of dependency.
Antioxidant and anti-ageing power: Goji
Acai may be the subject of further scientific studies. These studies may contradict or supplement the information in this sheet. In case of doubt, you should seek advice from a health professional.