Acai: Ingredients, Effects and Usage

The acai berry is the fruit of the acai palm from tropical America. In the Amazon region it is a staple food - in Germany and the USA it is considered a superfood. It is supposed to fight cancer, alleviate the effects of old age, prevent heart disease, help with weight loss, promote sexual desire and reduce endometriosis. Is it really a “miracle berry” or is it successful marketing?

Scientific name: Euterpe oleracea

Common names: Cabbage palm, Açaizeiro

Family: palm trees

Distribution: Amazon, tropical Meso, and South America

Plant parts used: palm hearts and fruits; in Germany mostly dried, as powder, juice or puree

Ingredients: vitamins, minerals, secondary plant substances, fatty acids, fiber, protein

Areas of application:

  • Anti-aging
  • Obesity
  • Strengthening the cardiovascular and immune systems
  • Promote blood circulation

  • The acai palm is native to tropical America and produces a dark purple fruit called the acai berry.
  • The berries only keep fresh for a short time and are therefore mostly available in Europe as juice, puree, capsules, tablets or in dried form.
  • Acai is marketed as a "superfood" in the US and Europe.
  • Acai berries contain vitamins and minerals as well as plenty of phytochemicals.
  • Among other things, they are said to lower cholesterol, inhibit inflammation, strengthen the heart , smooth the skin and act against cancer.
  • Acai products are very expensive in this country, and the actual proportion of acai in many products is very low.
  • The proportion of antioxidants in the berries decreases with each processing step. There are more of these active ingredients in fresh blueberries and sour cherries than in commercially available acai products.

Acai berries included
  • monosaturated as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids,
  • 40 percent dietary fiber,
  • vegetable protein
  • and an abundance of minerals and vitamins, including vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B6 (pyridoxine).
B3 helps to utilize the omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids. In addition, there are small amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E. The berries provide magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, and calcium as minerals. Acai berries have a relatively low sugar content of 3.6 percent and, as fresh berries, around 100 to 250 calories per 100 grams. In concentrated powder, it is around 500 calories per 100 grams.


Acai berries contain anthocyanins cyanide-3-glucoside and cyanide-3-glucoside-coumarate. These deactivate presumably reactive oxygen compounds (free radicals), which trigger oxidative stress in skin cells. The polyphenols epicatechin, catechin, and quercetin, which are responsible for the purple color of the berries, also have an antioxidant effect. These substances should not be ingested in higher concentrations, as this stops cell growth and catechin is even toxic.

Resveratrol is present in small amounts in the berries and is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease caused by diabetes.

A study showed the potential anti-inflammatory effects of acai berries and that the antioxidants contained in it penetrate human cells in a fully functional form and can also extinguish the oxygen there in very small doses.

Fatty and amino acids

The unsaturated fatty acids in the acai berry (oleic, palmitic and linoleic acid) balance cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. The berries contain all the essential amino acids, including leucine, lysine, and tryptophan.


Extensive and independent studies on the medicinal effects of acai berries are rare. However, the bioactive effects of individual ingredients are known. Vitamin B6 prevents nerve damage, B2 helps with poor concentration, B3 is involved in the metabolism of proteins, fat and carbohydrates and vitamin B1 also plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism.

Vitamin E promotes the production of keratin, strengthens the connective tissue, prevents wrinkles, smooths the skin, and strengthens the hair. Vitamin C promotes the body's own immune defense and is therefore suitable for preventing flu, viral and bacterial infections. In addition, vitamin C influences the production of L-carnitine and thus stimulates the burning of fat in the muscles.

The omega fatty acids, which are also present in the acai berries, protect the heart and blood vessels and are important for the production of certain hormones.

Magnesium, zinc, and copper are building blocks for enzymes. Zinc is important for male fertility and strengthens sperm. Potassium plays a role in the body's water balance and promotes the transmission of stimuli in the nerves. Calcium is important for building bones and teeth, and the berries are high in calcium.

Dietary fiber maintains the intestinal flora, absorbs pollutants and foreign particles in the intestine, and flushes them out of the body. They lower the cholesterol level.

Acai Berries For Cancer?

Scientists from the University of Florida found in a study that the antioxidants in acai berries triggered the self-destruction of leukemia cells.

An analysis of existing studies and scientific publications on the potential effects of the berries against cancer came to the conclusion that the berries show anti-carcinogenic and chemopreventive effects in various cancers. Acai is therefore safe and can be used as a chemoprotective agent against the development of tumors.

Scientists from the USA discovered in animal experiments that acai berries inhibited the development of a tumor in the esophagus and increased the antioxidant capacity as well as the interferon-gamma level.

A study by the State University of São Paulo (Brazil) showed that Acai also inhibited tumor development (carcinogenesis) in chemically induced bladder cancer. The incidence and multiplicity of urothelial carcinoma were reduced, as were tumor growth and DNA damage. It was thought that the effects were due to the antioxidants in the berries.

A group of Brazilian researchers also came to the conclusion through a study that acai berries reduced the size, weight, and growth of black skin cancer tumors.

Acai for endometriosis

Another study by Brazilian scientists investigated in animal experiments whether the acai berry extract is suitable for new therapies against endometriosis. It was found that treatment with Acai significantly reduced the area of ​​the endometrium. The immunostaining was reduced, as was the mRNA expression. The viability of the macrophages decreased by 50 percent.

According to the researchers, the results of the study suggest that acai extract is effective in suppressing the formation and growth of endometriotic lesions and, as a result, the agent can be used effectively as a potential remedy for endometriosis in women.


There is insufficient information on the safety of acai berries as a dietary supplement. Fruit and juice are common food. Unheated berries and their pulp are a common source of infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. The pathogens are found in the feces of predatory bugs that are eaten with the berries. If the berries are heated to over 43 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, the pathogen dies.

Lose Weight With Acai?

Acai berries have come to be known primarily as a secret slimming drug in recent years. At the same time, they should inhibit the appetite, trigger early satiety and stimulate the metabolism. On the one hand, however, the acai products that can be bought in this country have only limited the effect of the fresh berries, and interactions with other foods are hidden.

In general, acai powder, which has a lot of calories, should be used sparingly, because of satiety or metabolism - people only lose weight if they consume fewer calories than they consume in the long term.

In animal experiments, it was shown that rats that consumed acai juice did not change their body weight - in contrast to those who did not consume it. However, there are no independent studies published in scientifically recognized magazines that suggest that acai alone leads to weight loss.

Acai for skincare

Acai is fed anti-aging agents. The reason is the assumption that the contained antioxidants and polyphenols fight the free radicals and thus preserve the cells. Vitamin E also tightens the connective tissue and smoothes the skin. The oils in the berries provide moisture. Acai probably prevents premature aging of the skin, but it cannot counteract advanced aging of the skin. The skin tolerates products containing acai berries well.

Apply acai berries

Acai berries are best eaten fresh. However, this will only rarely be possible in Germany, as the berries rot just 36 hours after harvest. For this reason, dried berries are offered, which - packaged in a similar way to raisins can be found in health food stores or sometimes in supermarkets. Frozen acai berries are better in well-stocked fruit departments because the ingredients are largely retained here.

There are acai teas, acai capsules, and acai powders. When it comes to teas, you should take a close look at the ingredients: “Acai tea” often contains only a few of the dried berries and mostly white or green tea leaves. In “green” cafés, Acai can often be found in smoothies or bowls.

Superfood or Marketing?

Acai berries are a staple food in the Amazon. But that is not why the fruit is so popular in the West today. The purple ball owes its fame to the American talk show host Oprah Winfrey. In her program, she introduced acai as a “super berry” and thus inspired an industry that produced creams, capsules, and powders. Other US celebrities promoted these products and the berries themselves.

Studies by food chemists have highlighted many of the supposed miracle effects: Acai berries do indeed contain many bioactive substances, but not in extraordinarily high doses that would exceed those of other fruits. It offers high levels of antioxidants, but blueberries and sour cherries have even more and can be picked fresh from the tree in this country; Elderberries and red cabbage also have at least as many anthocyanins as the berries from Brazil.

Acai Bowl - The berries in the kitchen

Acai can be prepared as a bowl, along with quinoa, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. The berries then serve as a topping. Açaí na Tigela, a frozen dessert made from pureed acai berries, is popular in Brazil. These go well with muesli and bananas and can also be made into smoothies with milk, yogurt, soy milk, or water - the purple color is also an eye-catcher. 

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