- The acai palm tree, native to tropical Central and South America, produces a deep purple fruit. The acai fruit has long been an important food source for indigenous peoples of the Amazon region.
- Acai products have become popular in the United States, where they have been promoted for weight-loss and anti-aging purposes.
- The Federal Trade Commission has taken action against companies that marketed acai weight-loss products in allegedly deceptive ways.
- Acai fruit pulp has been used experimentally as an oral contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the digestive tract
- There's no definitive scientific evidence based on studies in people to support the use of acai for any health-related purpose.
- No independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai alone promotes rapid weight loss. When investigating the safety profile of an acai-fortified juice in rats, researchers found no differences in body weight changes between animals given the juice and animals not given the juice.
- A preliminary study suggested that eating acai fruit pulp might reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels in people who are overweight.
- Laboratory studies have focused on acai's potential antioxidant properties, and a juice blend with acai as the main ingredient has been shown to have an antioxidant effect in people. (Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells against certain types of damage.)
- Acai pulp appears to be safe when consumed in the amounts commonly used in foods; however, drinking unprocessed acai juice has been linked to an illness called American trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas disease).
- Consuming acai might affect MRI test results. If you use acai products and are scheduled for an MRI, check with your health care provider.
- Little is known about whether it’s safe to use acai during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
- Talk to your health care providers about any complementary health approaches before you use. It may be contraindicated with any medications you are currently taking.