What Is Acai Good For?

Acai Berry Attributes
Botanical name: Euterpe oleracea

Acai Nutrition Facts

The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee1) berry is a small, dark purple drupe2 that looks like a cross between a grape and a blueberry. It's around an inch in diameter,3 with a large seed inside taking up about 70% of its total mass. This seed should be removed before the consuming the fruit.4

Acai is native to South America and has long been a staple food and medicinal plant in Brazil, but it's also gained popularity abroad in the recent years because of its antioxidant potential.5 Today, acai berries are still exclusively harvested from the tall, slender palm trees found around the Amazon River basin and in Trinidad and Tobago.6

Acai berries are highly perishable, which is why it's hard to get freshly harvested ones in the U.S. They're usually sold frozen, pureed, powdered or as a juice in supermarkets and health food stores. Frozen acai berries bought from the market must be immediately stored in the freezer to keep them fresh longer. Take them out only when you're ready to use them, and avoid refreezing, as it can deplete their nutrients and cause an unpleasant texture.7

Compared to other berries, acai is less sweet. Its flavor is described as tart, earthy and reminiscent of raspberry and pomegranate.8 Acai bowls remain a popular breakfast item — this is a thick base of pureed acai blended and topped with other fruits, seeds and nuts. You can also use this fruit to make healthy smoothies or add it into baked desserts.9

Health Benefits of Acai Berry

Acai is considered a superfood because it's loaded with health-boosting nutrients and compounds.10 One of the major contributors to its powerful antioxidant activity is the flavonoid anthocyanin, a natural purple pigment also found to help lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, microbial infection and neurodegenerative diseases.11

Other free-radical-fighting polyphenols found in acai berry include ferulic acid, epicatechin, catechin and gallic acid.12 An analysis of its fatty acid composition also showed that it's rich in monounsaturated oleic acid,13 the same fatty acid found in olive oil revealed to help reduce the risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and stroke.14

Acai contains high amounts of saturated fat,15 which may help increase your levels of HDL cholesterol (aka the good cholesterol)16 and reduce the risk for obesity-related Type 2 diabetes.17 Despite these potential health benefits, you should still consume acai berries in moderation because they contain sugar, which can be harmful to your health when consumed in excessive amounts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently has no available data for the nutritional value of fresh acai berries, but you can refer to the table below for the nutritional content of fortified acai berry drink to get an idea of the nutrients that you can obtain from this fruit's extract:18

Acai Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
  Amt. Per
Calories 62 kcal  
Total Fat 0.83 g  
Saturated Fat 0 g  
Trans Fat 0 g   
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 13 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 12.83 g  
Dietary Fiber 1.2 g  
Sugar 11.1 g  
Protein 0.83 g  
Vitamin A 485 mcg Vitamin C 42.1 mg
Calcium 19 mg Iron 0.16 mg

Studies Done on Acai

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that acai not only offers potential health benefits through its free radical-scavenging ability, but it may also help suppress biological activities that would degrade cellular integrity.19

Moreover, a study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition evaluated the effects of acai pulp on chemically induced urothelial bladder cancer in mice. The results showed that consuming acai pulp may help reduce the incidence of transitional cell carcinoma, multiplicity, DNA damage and tumor cell proliferation. The authors concluded that the positive acai berry pulp treatment was "probably due to its potential antioxidant action."20

Another study published in the Nutrition Journal examined how acai fruit pulp affected the risks for metabolic disorder. It involved 10 overweight adults taking 100 grams of acai pulp twice daily for a month. At the end of the 30-day trial, researchers found reductions in fasting glucose, insulin levels and total cholesterol. However, there was no effect on blood pressure.21

Scientists concluded that the acai fruit pulp "reduced the levels of selected markers of metabolic disease risk in overweight adults," indicating that further studies, including those on heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, are warranted.22

Acai Berry Healthy Recipes:
Acai, Celery and Banana Smoothie

Acai Healthy Recipes


3 large bananas

1 tablespoon acai powder

4 sticks of celery, chopped into 2-inch pieces


  1. Place the bananas, acai and celery in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. To thicken, add more acai powder or banana.
  3. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from PaleoHacks23)

Acai Fun Facts

Although it's commonly consumed as a dessert or beverage nowadays, acai berry is traditionally eaten with fish or meat, or turned into soup or a condiment in South America. People living around the Amazon River delta used to soak these berries in water to soften their skin and flesh to make them easier to separate from the pit. 24


Up until about a decade ago, acai berries were unheard of by anyone outside the Amazonian regions. They were brought into the spotlight as a superfood, as they're packed with polyphenolic compounds that have powerful antioxidant properties — this includes anthocyanin, catechin and epicatechin, to name a few. They also contain healthy fatty acids that may help improve your cardiovascular health.25

While the hype has died down somewhat, you'll still find this fruit pureed in breakfast bowls or blended into smoothies. Add it into your diet for an antioxidant boost, but be sure to consume it in moderate amounts, as it still contains fructose that can be harmful to your health.