4 benefits of eating acai, from regulating blood sugar to helping digestion

4 benefits of eating acai, from regulating blood sugar to helping digestion
Acai is typically blended into a puree.Luke SW / Shutterstock
  • Acai berries are rich in antioxidants and contain 25% of your daily vitamin A needs.
  • In addition to being highly nutritious, acai may help you keep regular bowel movements.
  • Some research suggests that acai may help certain groups lower their risk of heart disease.

Acai berries are grape-like fruits that have become popular due to their high nutrient and antioxidant profile. These dark purple berries make a great smoothie addition and have added benefits for your heart, blood-sugar control, and digestion.

Here's what the research says about how acai berries may boost your health.

What is acai?

Acai berries grow in the rainforests of Central and South America and have become widely available in the US. Acai berries don't last long on a shelf - they start to ferment after about 48 hours - so in American stores, you can generally find them as a powder or frozen puree.
Advertisement
Acai berries are rich in nutrients -100 grams of acai fruit pulp contains:
  • 73 calories
  • 6 grams of fat
  • 2 gram of protein
  • 2 grams of sugar
  • 3 grams of fiber, 12% of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
  • Vitamin A, 25% of your RDA
  • Calcium, 4% of your RDAI

Acai also contains anthocyanin and flavonoids, compounds known for their antioxidant qualities.

Medical term: Antioxidants are substances that can prevent cellular damage from free radicals, which are harmful particles that may damage your DNA, contribute to harmful diseases like cancer, and accelerate aging.
TOP VIDEOS FOR YOU
Advertisement

1. Rich in antioxidants

Many fruits contain antioxidants, but acai berries stand out above the rest. In fact, 100 g of acai berries has ten times more antioxidant capacity than the same amount of blueberries.

However, because acai berries are typically available powdered or in purees, you'll need to pay attention to their sugar content. "Make sure you're buying unsweetened versions since a diet high in added sugars can promote free radical production," Cassetty says.

2. May help regulate blood sugar

"There isn't much research on the benefits of acai berries in humans," says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutrition and wellness expert in private practice.
Advertisement

But animal research suggests that it may have the potential to help fight diabetes.

This is partly because acai contains high levels of polyphenol compounds, which can help change the way your body digests carbohydrates and may make you feel more full.

One of the few studies done in humans, published in 2011, involved 10 healthy, overweight adults who took 100 mg of acai pulp twice a day for one month. After a month, the participants had significantly lower blood glucose and insulin levels, both important indicators of diabetes risk. They also had smaller blood sugar spikes after meals, suggesting that acai puree may help keep blood sugar in balance.
Advertisement

But again, to get these positive effects, it's important to avoid sweetened acai products, which can spike blood sugar, Cassetty says.

3. May improve digestive health

Acai berries may help improve digestion because of their polyphenol antioxidants. "These compounds get broken down into fuel for the beneficial bacteria in your gut," Cassetty says.

Having "good" gut bacteria is important to help you break down food and prevent overgrowths of harmful bacteria, which can lead to digestive issues.
Advertisement
Acai berries are also rich in fiber, which helps to create a diverse microbiome of gut bacteria and helps keep your stools regular.

4. May support heart health

Acai berries may boost heart health by balancing out your cholesterol levels, an important factor in controlling heart disease.

In the previously mentioned small 2011 study, the participants not only had blood sugar improvements but also had reduced levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Reducing LDL is particularly important for lowering the risk of heart diesease.
Advertisement

Another small study from 2018 found that young women who took 200 mg of acai each day for a month showed a favorable effect on the body's metabolism of HDL or "good" cholesterol. The researchers conclude that these benefits could help to fight atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fat in arteries that can contribute to heart disease.

Insider's takeaway

More research is needed to understand the health effects of eating acai or using it in skin products, but there are important nutrients in acai that may be helpful to overall health. Acai berries contain potent polyphenols and antioxidants that may offer benefits for your heart, skin, blood sugar levels, and digestive system.
Advertisement

"If you want to experiment with acai powders or purees, make sure you're buying unsweetened varieties. You can add the powder to baked goods and oatmeal and the puree to smoothies and smoothie bowls," Cassetty says.

6 science-backed benefits of blueberries, according to nutritionists What the research says about ginger's weight-loss benefits, and why you should be skeptical 4 health benefits of lemon water and how much you should drink each day What happens when you eat too much protein, and how much is healthy
{{}}