Safety, side effects

Few trials have studied açaí in human subjects, but the available nutrition data indicate that the risk of adverse effects is negligible. Aside from the potential for allergic response, there are no known side effects with this product and no particular cautions.

Still, some potent antioxidants can interact with medications, such as warfarin, due to competing metabolic pathways. Clinicians should ask patients who are on concomitant anticoagulant therapy whether they consume açaí regularly.


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Dose

No one really knows what a recommended daily allowance (RDA) would be for açaí extract. Most literature recommends 500 mg a few times a week, preferably with breakfast.7 There are no known contraindications for pregnant or nursing women, but children should limit their intake.

How supplied and cost

While some commercial products are advertising açaí berry juice content, literature typically cites capsules filled with dried powder from the berry pulp and skin. A month’s supply of these capsules ranges in price from $20 to $40, depending on the source. Bulk powder is available for smoothies and reconstituted juice.

Summary

It’s not often that a health supplement tastes good, but this sounds like one of those rare substances. With no negative side effects to açaí products, the main decision is between capsules and beverages. While it’s a little costly, açaí could easily eliminate the need for other antioxidants andmultivitamins, making it an excellent nutritional choice. 

References

1. Açaí (Euterpe oleracea). Tropical plant database. Raintree Nutrition.  Available at: www.rain-tree.com/acai.htm.
2. Brondízio ES, Safar CAM, Siqueira AD. The urban market of açaí fruit (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) and rural land use change: ethnographic insights into the role of price and land tenure constraining agricultural choices in the Amazon estuary. Urban Ecosystems. 2002;6:67-97.
3. Gross PM. Açaí —potent antioxidant superfruit. Natural and Nutritional Products Industry Center. January 8, 2007. Available at www.npicenter.com/anm/templates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=17363.
4. Bhagwat S, Haytowitz DB, Holden JM. USDA database for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of selected foods. 2007. American Institute for Cancer Research Launch Conference. Available at: www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15866.
5. Pacheco-Palencia LA, Mertens-Talcott S, Talcott ST. Chemical composition, antioxidant properties, and thermal stability of a phytochemical enriched oil from Açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart.). J Agric Food Chem. 2008;56:4631-4636.
6. Nordlie T. Brazilian berry destroys cancer cells in lab, UF study shows. University of Florida News. January 12, 2006. Available at: news.ufl.edu/2006/01/12/berries/.
7. Rocha AP, Carvalho LC, Sousa MA, et al. Endothelium-dependent vasodilator effect of Euterpe oleracea Mart.
(Açaí) extracts in mesenteric vascular bed of the rat. Vascul Pharmacol. 2007;46:97-104.
8. Jensen GS, Wu X, Patterson KM, et al. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities of an antioxidant-rich fruit and berry juice blend. Results of a pilot and randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Agric Food Chem. 2008;56:8326-8333.
9. Córdova-Fraga T, de Araujo DB, Sanchez TA, et al. Euterpe Olerácea (Açaí) as an alternative oral contrast agent in MRI of the gastrointestinal system: preliminary results. Magn Reson Imaging. 2004;22:389-393.

All electronic documents accessed December 11, 2008.