Very few human studies have been conducted on acai berry. Research from "test tube" studies have shown that the fruit has potent antioxidant activity, but it is important to know that test tube studies do not always reflect what happens in humans. Much more research is needed to confirm the benefits and effectiveness of various acai berry products.
Does Acai Berry Really Work?
Acai berry juices and other products have become immensely popular and are claimed to be useful as a "superfood" for treating or preventing almost any medical condition and for enhancing general health. It is often touted as a "fountain of youth." After listening to celebrity endorsements and personal testimony from users of such products, you may be led to believe that there is a great deal of scientific evidence to demonstrate the health benefits of acai. However, there is surprisingly little such evidence, as very little acai berry research has been conducted in humans.
In Vitro and In Vivo Acai Berry Research Studies
Numerous "test tube" studies (technically known as "in vitro" studies) demonstrate that acai berry has potent antioxidant activity. Many people and companies use this research as evidence of the health benefits of the product, although test tube studies do not always reflect what happens in humans. After all, no test tube can accurately replicate the complexities of the human body. Although early test tube studies certainly are useful for pointing researchers in the right direction, they do not "prove" anything about what might happen in human studies (technically known as "in vivo" studies).
Very little research on acai berries has been done in humans. Most of the published studies were quite small and were designed only to examine whether acai berry juice or pulp can increase the antioxidant activity in humans. They were not designed to see if the product actually has any effect for treating or preventing disease.
It should be noted that although many people claim that acai berries are higher in antioxidants that any other fruit, one study that examined some of the commercially available berry juices suggested that acai berry juice actually has less antioxidant capacity than pomegranate juice, red wine, concord grape juice, blueberry juice, and black cherry juice.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed March 5, 2009.
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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(18):8326-33.
Mertens-Talcott SU, Rios J, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, et al. Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers. J Agric Food Chem 2008; 56(17):7796-802.
Seeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, et al. Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. J Agric Food Chem 2008; 56(4):1415-22.
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