Common name: Açaí, açaí-do-para, açaí-do-baixo Amazonas, açaizeiro, assaí, palmito açaí, piriá
Botanical names: Euterpe oleracea Mart.
© Steven Foster
Clusters of round, dark purple-to-black, berry-shaped açaí fruits are harvested to make juice, ice pops, and herbal supplements. Ethnobotanists have also documented folk medicine uses for the seed oil, fruit rind, and roots. The inner core of the thin trunk of the açaí tree is well-known as the source of hearts of palm. Açaí is primarily grown in the Pará region of the Amazon estuary, in the northern region of Brazil. It also grows in French Guyana, Panama, Ecuador, and Trinidad.
Acai has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):
|Science Ratings||Health Concerns|
Diabetes, Type 1
Diabetes, Type 2
Fever (roasted, crushed seeds)
Scrofula (seed oil)
and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.
Açaí juice is a major dietary component of Brazilian diets, especially in the Pará region. It is often eaten at breakfast with cassava meal (manioc) or with tapioca and sugar. The açaí fruit is rich in nutrients and is found in many Brazilian prepared foods. The fruit is most popularly used to make juice, but is also found in ice cream, popsicles, and various desserts.
Açaí seeds can be crushed to produce a green oil that has been used as a folk remedy for scrofula (a type of tuberculosis). The roasted, crushed seeds, consumed as tea, are a traditional remedy for fever. Tea made from the root is a folk remedy for jaundice and anemia. Tea made from the grated fruit rind has been used topically as a wash for skin ulcers. Boiled preparations of açaí root have been used traditionally to treat many diseases, including diabetes, hepatitis, malaria, kidney disease, and dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain).
No clinical trials of açaí for the prevention or treatment of any health condition have been published in the medical literature.
Açaí is one of nature’s richest sources of anthocyanins—a type of bioflavonoid. Anthocyanins make up the purple, red, and blue-black pigments found within certain berries, fruits, plants, and flowers. The fruit of açaí also contains protein, fiber, enzymes, vitamin E, amino acids, minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, zinc, and boron), phytosterols, and beneficial fatty acids.
Frozen pulp: approximately 100 grams (3.5 ounces) per day is recommended, although there is no accepted standard. Brazilians commonly drink up to a liter (34 ounces) of açaí juice per day.
Powder: 1 ounce of powder mixed with 10 to 12 ounces of water, once or twice a day.
Freeze-dried açaí in capsules or tablets is sometimes recommended at 1 to 2 grams per day.
No side effects or interactions have been reported.
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with acai.
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The information presented in Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires September 2008.