Super Berry: Is Acai a “Superfood”?


The acai berry hails from South America and Central America and is locally known as the “fruit that cries.” The indigenous people of the Amazon have long used the acai berry for health-related reasons. Now, the acai berry has crept into the United States where it has claimed “superfood” status. Because the acai berry is so delicate, transportation is difficult. You will most likely find it as a powder, in a capsule or as an ingredient in a smoothie or juice.

But do acai berries live up to the claims of a miracle cure for aging and weight loss? Sorry to burst your bubble, but according to the NIH,

“No independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss.”

The majority of research regarding acai berry and health has been focused on investigating the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of acai berry. Consumption of antioxidants is thought to provide protection against oxidative damage and contribute positive health benefits. Laboratory studies have shown that acai berries demonstrate anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity in both in vitro and in vivo models. Additional randomized controlled trials are necessary to further investigate the impact of acai berry on various health outcomes”

Foods with flavonoidsSo how do acai berries stack up against other berries? Acai berries shouldn’t be singled out among their peers as a miracle food. In fact, among fruits, berries representing the entire color spectrum have “emerged as champions with substantial research data supporting their abilities to positively affect multiple disease states.” Such definitive research on acai berries is not yet available. Few studies to date have investigated potential health benefits of acai berries.

But you may just want to know, “How can I get my daily fix of antioxidants?” Trendy smoothies and supplements are not your only option. Instead, just visit your local grocery store. An abundant array of fresh and frozen options is available that provides those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits you are looking for. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Kale, collards and spinach contain lutein, which may contribute to maintenance of healthy vision
  • Berries, cherries and red grapes contain anthocyanidins (a flavonoid), which bolsters cellular antioxidant defenses and may contribute to maintenance of brain function
  • Cranberries, strawberries and grapes contain proanthocyanidins (a flavonoid), which may contribute to maintenance of urinary tract health and heart health
  • Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage contain sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate that may enhance detoxification of undesirable compounds and bolster cellular antioxidant defenses

This article was written by Laura Kubitz and reviewed by Kris Sollid, RD.