Acai berries: Health benefits and side effects


Be it skin or brain health, acai berries are great for you. Here are all the health benefits of acai berries that make it a perfect addition to a healthy diet.

We all have heard of blueberries and raspberries, but what are acai berries? Acai berries stem from the acai palm tree native to the Amazon rainforest in South America. They are bluish-purple in colour and have similar size and shape as large blueberries. They have gained popularity as a “superfood” due to their potential health benefits. So, if you are a health-conscious person, you might want to add this superfood to your diet. Before you do that, know the health benefits of acai berries.

Health Shots got in touch with nutritionist Nirupama Rao to understand everything about acai berries.

acai berries
Acai berries are a superfood for the brain. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the benefits of acai berries?

“Acai berries are packed with essential nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, vitamin C and vitamin A, and minerals like potassium and calcium. They also are rich in healthy fats and have low sugar content, along with many minerals and compounds such as anthocyanins,” says the expert. So, naturally, they are beneficial for your health. Here are the health benefits of acai berries:

1. Contains antioxidants

Acai berries are known for their high antioxidant content, which can help to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. If the effect of free radicals is not neutralised by antioxidants, the free radicals can damage cells and give birth to diseases in our bodies. “Antioxidants are linked to various health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease,” says the expert.

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2. Good for your skin

The antioxidants in acai berries may promote healthy skin and reduce signs of ageing by combating oxidative stress.

3. Promotes heart health

Acai berries may help lower cholesterol levels and improve overall heart health due to their healthy fats and antioxidants.

health benefits of acai berries
You might be able to keep your heart healthy by having acai berries! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Helps manage weight

Acai berry supplements are sometimes marketed for weight loss, but there’s limited scientific evidence to support this claim. “However, the fiber in acai berries can contribute to a feeling of fullness for a long time,which might help you lose weight” says the expert.

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5. Improves brain health

Brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease mostly occur due to ageing and have no cure. However, there are certain foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce the risk of such diseases. Anthocyanin, which is abundantly found in acai berries, helps to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, thus boosting brain health. These compounds have also been known to enhance memory.

How to use acai berries in diet?

Acai berries are nutrient-dense and can be part of a healthy diet. They are commonly sold as frozen puree, dried powder or supplements. You can include them in your diet in following ways:

1. Smoothie bowls

A popular way to consume acai berries is in smoothie bowls. Blend frozen acai puree with other fruits and use it as toppings.

2. Acai bowls

Create a thick, ice-cream-like bowl by blending acai puree with a liquid (like almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk) and toppings like bananas and nuts.

3. Acai supplements

Acai supplements, available in the form of capsules or powders, can be taken as advised by your doctor.

What are the side effects of acai berries?

Acai berries are generally considered safe when consumed as part of a balanced diet. However, there are a few side effects you should be aware of:

1. Allergies

Some individuals may be allergic to acai berries, so it’s essential to start with a small amount if you haven’t consumed them before.

2. Digestive issues

Acai supplements can sometimes cause mild digestive discomfort, especially if taken in large amounts. Start with the recommended dosage to avoid complications.

Like any other superfood, acai berries also need to be taken in moderation for good health.

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