The acai berry comes from the Euterpe oleracea palm tree that is native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The tree grows to 100 feet in height, or taller. It has become popular among health enthusiasts for its proven antioxidant property; in 2006, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry announced that the acai berry has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any plant food. However, before consuming acai berry, keep in mind a few warnings.
When acai berries are dried or pressed into juice and then bottled, some of their antioxidants become lost. To benefit from the maximum amount of antioxidants, it is best to eat fresh berries or juice expressed from them. However, the palm trees that produce acai berries do not grow in many places outside of Brazil, so it can be difficult to obtain fresh berries in the United States.
Some of the commercially available acai berry products contain other fruit juices, vitamins and nutrients. These ingredients can come with warnings of their own, so it is wise to look at the label of any acai berry product you are thinking of purchasing and make sure you understand any side effects or contraindications those ingredients might cause.
Insufficient research has been conducted to determine whether acai berries or the juice made from them are safe for pregnant and lactating women. Some people have assumed that because acai berries have protein, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, they are safe for everyday consumption. To date, no studies have confirmed that this fruit is safe for pregnant women, even though women in the Amazon region consume the fruit during their pregnancies. On the other hand, no studies have proven that acai can be detrimental to a pregnancy.
Acai berries might interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications in a harmful way. A high amount of antioxidants in any food source can possibly reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy. Patients are advised to check with their doctors before they begin to consume acai or any other food containing large quantities of antioxidants. Other drug interactions are unknown due to the lack of published studies on this fruit. Patients are advised to tell their doctors if they are consuming acai when asked to list the drugs and supplements they currently take.
Beware of Claims
Many claims are being made about the benefits of the acai berry and the juice made from it. From increasing sexual performance to rejuvenating the skin, scientific studies do not exist that confirm or deny many of the effects of this fruit.