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- Açaí berries come from a palm tree in Central and South America that grows up to 25 meters high. Açaí berries constitute a major part of the diet of several local populations in the Amazon River delta.
- Their dark purple color is due to anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol. A comparison study with 11 other kinds of fruits showed intermediate polyphenol content and antioxidant potency.
- The fruit mass of açaí berries is 80% seed, which supplies carbohydrates, protein, and fatty acids, primarily as oleic, palmitic and linoleic acid.
- Açaí is sold as a pulp, powder, or juice, and is found widely in alcoholic drinks, smoothies, foods, cosmetics and supplements.
- Only 10-20 participants were enrolled in most studies of açaí, and none of these included a control group. This is a significant limitation.
- Some research was sponsored by a company that makes açaí berry juice and which is, therefore, biased in favor of the product.
- Açaí activated immune system function in laboratory studies. This might cause worsening of disease in individuals with autoimmune diagnoses.
- Açaí berry is high in potassium, so it is not recommended in patients with kidney disease or those taking potassium-conserving medications (e.g., spironolactone, ACE Inhibitors).
- Açaí berry is high in palmitic acid, which is thought, perhaps, to increase inflammation over the long term.
* *ADVISORY* *
Açaí juice consumption has been associated with oral transmission of Chagas' disease, a foodborne illness caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi. Chagas is common in Brazil, where most açaí berries are processed. In the rare cases in which Chagas becomes chronic, 20-40% of those infected develop life-threatening heart and gut disorders.
DOSAGE: Freeze-dried capsules or tablets at 1-2 grams daily, or 1 oz. of powder mixed with 12 oz. water 1-2 times daily.
CONCLUSION: We conclude that while açaí shows promise for treating metabolic syndrome, there is not enough evidence for us to recommend its use for this indication. If you do elect to try it, please discuss your decision with your doctor, and observe carefully for any changes to your health.
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