Açaí refers to the Euterpe oleracea species of palm tree. This tree produces the fruit known as Acai berries. In preparation for consumption, the pulp of the acai fruit is commonly freeze-dried, with the seed and skin removed.[1]

Composition

Acai contains many nutrients, such as polyphenols, iron, vitamin E, and unsaturated fatty acids.[2]

Acai berries have a high polyphenol content.

Acai berries contain anthocyanins such as cyanidine-3-glucoside (C3Glc), cyanidine-3-diglucoside, and cyanidin-3-rutinoside, which contribute to antioxidant activity.[2]

  • Polyphenols (Phenolic Compounds)
    • Acai seed extract (ASE) is rich in catechin and polymeric pro-anthocyanidins.
    • Açaí oil is rich in protocatechuic acid.

Healing Properties

Antioxidant

Antiinflammatory (anti-inflammatory)

Antioxidant

Brain Health

Acai treatment has been shown to prevent brain oxidative damage.[2]

Blood Health

Acai treatment increases the Red Blood Cell Population via Erythropoietin Upregulation.[2]

Hematopoietic Effects

Haematopoiesis is the formation of blood cellular components.

Acai treatment significantly increased the erythrocytes, hemoglobin, and hematocrit contents compared to controls.[2]

  • Acai induced a hemopoietic effect via the enhancement of maturation and intact erythrocytes.[2]

Acai administration significantly increased the levels of the hematopoietic-related hormone erythropoietin in blood compared to controls and also significantly upregulated the gene expression of Erythropoietin (EPO) in the kidney.[2]

Erythropoietin is a hormone produced by the kidney that promotes the formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow.

Hypoglycemic

Vascular Function

Kidney Function

Acai extract was shown to induce renal hypoxia.[2]

Hypoxia is the fundamental stimulus for erythropoietin (EP) production in the kidneys. Hypoxia increases erythropoietin messenger RNA in a renal cell, which leads to the production of increased amounts of erythropoietin in the kidney. Hypoxia also increases external messenger substances that amplify the effects of hypoxia and increases erythropoietin messenger RNA to further accelerate erythropoietin production.[3]

Antihypertensive

Endothelial Health

Acai Seed Extract has been shown to induce endothelium dependent vasodilation (widening and relaxation of blood vessels).[4]

Endothelial cells produce a number of substances, collectively termed endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF), that promote local relaxation of vascular smooth muscle.

Gut Health

Acai is rich in anthocyanidin and chrysanthemin (cyanidin-3-glucoside) which have been shown to inhibit the growth of E. coli and promote the growth of probiotic (beneficial) strains of microorganisms.

Disease / Symptom Treatment

Fatty Liver (hepatic steatosis)

Acai treatment has been shown to provide protection from fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis).[2]

Heart Disease

  • Acai Seed Extract's ability to induce endothelium dependent vasodilation may help treat hypertension, atherosclerosis, and heart failure.[4]

  • Acai treatment has been shown to improve cardiac dysfunction following myocardial infarction.[2]

Metabolic Syndrome

Neurological Disease

Acai treatment has been shown to prevent brain oxidative damage.[2]

Obesity

Acai treatment has been shown to provide protection from diet-induced obesity.[2]

Acai berries are a promising functional food for the management and prevention of obesity.[4] Açai seed extract (ASE) has been evidenced as a potential regulator of body mass.[4] Research suggests that even low doses of the compounds found in acai berries may have a protective role against body weight gain and consequently obesity development.[4]

  • Inclusion of acai berries in the diet significantly improved plasma and tissue markers of obesity.[4]
  • Phenolic compounds found in Acai Seed Extract prevent body mass gain and obesity and promote body weight reduction by altering the expression of the specific genes involved in adipogenesis thereby positively modulating the metabolic pathways responsble for the creation of new fat cells.[4]
    • Acai Seed Extract can be used as a potential strategy to modulate adipogenesis.[4]
    • Açai Seed Extract was shown to reduce adipogenesis, suppress lipid accumulation, and prevent obesity in mice fed a high-fat diet.[4]

Sources:

  1. Study Type: Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) Assay
    Title: Anti-oxidant capacities of flavonoid compounds isolated from acai pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.)
    Author(s): Jie Kang, Zhimin Li, Tong Wu, Gitte S. Jensen, Alexander G. Schauss, Xianli Wu
    Institution(s): USDA Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 15 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202, USA; Shanghai Institute of Pharmaceutical Industry, 1320 West Beijing Road, Shanghai 200040, China; NIS Labs, 1437 Esplanade, Klamath Falls, OR 97601, USA; AIBMR Life Science Inc., 4117 S Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98373, USA
    Publication: Food Chemistry
    Date: March 2019
    Abstract: Acai fruit (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) has been demonstrated to exhibit extremely high anti-oxidant capacity. Seven major flavonoids were isolated from freeze-dried acai pulp by various chromatographic methods. Their structures were elucidated as orientin (1), homoorientin (2), vitexin (3), luteolin (4), chrysoeriol (5), quercetin (6), and dihydrokaempferol (7) by NMR, MS and compared with the reported literature. Compounds 3 and 6 were reported from acai pulp for the first time. Anti-oxidant capacities of these flavonoids were evaluated by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay, cell-based anti-oxidant protection (CAP-e) assay and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation in polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells (ROS PMN assay). ORAC values varied distinctly (1420–14,800 μmol TE/g) among the seven compounds based on numbers and positions of hydroxyl groups and/or other substitute groups. The ORAC values of aglycones are generally higher than that of glycosides. CAP-e results indicated that only three compounds (4, 6 and 7) could enter the cytosol and contribute to the reduction of oxidative damage within the cell. The ROS PMN assay showed that five compounds (2–3 and 5–7) demonstrated exceptional effects by reducing ROS formation in PMN cells, which produced high amounts of ROS under oxidative stress. In evaluating the anti-oxidant capacity of natural products, combining both chemical and cell-based assays will provide more comprehensive understanding of anti-oxidant effects and potential biological relevance.
    Link: Source
    Citations:

  2. Study Type: Animal Study: In Vivo
    Title: Acai Extract Increases the Red Blood Cell Population via Erythropoietin Upregulation in Mice
    Author(s): Shuichi Shibuya (s-shibuya@ncgg.go.jp), Toshihiko Toda (hik_toda-jac@proteome.jp), Yusuke Ozawa (ozawayusuke3@gmail.com), Takahiko Shimizu (shimizut@ncgg.go.jp)
    Institution(s): Aging Stress Response Research Project Team, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, 7-430 Morioka-cho, Obu, Aichi 474-8511, Japan; Department of Endocrinology, Hematology and gerontology, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan
    Publication: MDPI: Preprints
    Date: January 2020
    Abstract: Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart. Palmae, Arecaceae) is a palm plant native to the Brazilian Amazon. It contains many nutrients, such as polyphenols, iron, vitamin E, and unsaturated fatty acids, so in recent years, many of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of acai have been reported. However, the effects of acai on hematopoiesis have not been investigated yet. In the present study, we administered acai extract to mice and evaluated its hematopoietic effects. Acai treatment significantly increased the erythrocytes, hemoglobin, and hematocrit contents compared to controls for four days. We then examined the hematopoietic-related markers following a single injection. Acai administration significantly increased the levels of the hematopoietic-related hormone erythropoietin in blood compared to controls and also significantly upregulated the gene expression of Epo in the kidney. Furthermore, in the mice treated with acai extract, the kidneys were positively stained with the hypoxic probe pimonidazole in comparison to the controls. These results demonstrated that acai increases the number of blood cells through an increased erythropoietin expression via hypoxic action in the kidney. Acai can be expected to improve motility through hematopoiesis.
    Link: Source
    Citations:

  3. Study Type: Human: Meta Analysis
    Title: The role of hypoxia in renal production of erythropoietin
    Author(s): Fisher JW, Nakashima J.
    Institution(s): Department of Pharmacology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112.
    Publication: Cancer
    Date: August 1992
    Abstract: Hypoxia is the fundamental stimulus for erythropoietin (EP) production. It is clear that hypoxia increases erythropoietin messenger RNA in a renal cell, which leads to the production of increased amounts of erythropoietin in the kidney. Hypoxia also increases external messenger substances that amplify the effects of hypoxia and increases erythropoietin messenger RNA to further accelerate erythropoietin production. Some of these messenger substances are adenosine, eicosanoids, oxygen-derived metabolites, and beta-2 adrenergic agonists that are postulated to act through the activation of cell membrane receptors and are coupled to an increase in a G stimulatory protein which activates adenylate cyclase. This leads to increased production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP) for the production of key phosphoproteins that are involved in the biosynthesis/secretion of erythropoietin. This paper considers the physicochemical properties of human erythropoietin, pharmacologic agents that increase and decrease erythropoietin production/secretion, serum erythropoietin levels in normal human subjects and in patients with several types of anemia, and a model for the role of adenosine and other external messenger substances in erythropoietin biosynthesis/secretion.
    Link: Source
    Citations:

  4. Study Type: Animal Study
    Title: Antiadipogenic effects of açai seed extract on high fat diet-fed mice and 3T3-L1 adipocytes: A potential mechanism of action
    Author(s): Patricia Leticia Trindade, Elaine dos Ramos Soares, Elisa Bernardes Monteiro, Ângela Castro Resende, Nathalia Moura-Nunes, Vanessa Souza-Mello, Danielly Cristiny Ferraz, Julio Beltrame Daleprane
    Institution(s): Laboratory for Studies of Interactions Between Nutrition and Genetics, LEING, Department of Basic and Experimental Nutrition, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Laboratory of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Medicinal Plants, Department of Pharmacology, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Laboratory of Morphometry, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Anatomy, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    Publication: Life Sciences
    Date: April 2019
    Abstract: Body adiposity is an important risk factor for the development of chronic non-transmissible diseases. Studies on the process of adipogenesis have been extensively performed in vivo and in vitro models to describe the molecular and cellular bases of adipose tissue development and the effect of natural products in this process. The açai seed extract (ASE) has been evidenced as a potential regulator of body mass. In our work high-fat diet–fed mice treated with ASE (300 mg/Kg/d) (HFD-ASE) showed a lower adipose index (−32.63%, p < 0.001) than the high-fat diet–fed mice group (HFD) and the adipocytes from the HFD group were considerably enlarged (p < 0.001) compared to those in the control group (CG) and HFD-ASE group (+175% and +123%, respectively). We also evaluated the effects of ASE on the modulation of adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells. ASE exposure (25 and 100 μg/mL) led to a decrease of 26.6 (p < 0.05) in proliferation and also inhibited pre-adipocyte differentiation through the decreasing expression (p < 0.05) of transcription factors and adipogenic proteins such as PPARɣ, SREBP-1, and FAS. These results show that the ASE reduce adipogenesis and suppress lipid accumulation in the in vivo model and in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and reinforce ASE as a potential strategy to modulate adipogenesis.
    Link: Source
    Citations: