These grape-like berries – native to the South American rainforests – are considered something of a superfood due to their antioxidant properties.

What are its health benefits?

The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry is a small, reddish-purple fleshy fruit consisting of a cluster of seeds.

Due to their antioxidant properties, acai berries are reportedly beneficial in the folllowing ways:

  • They may help with the alleviation of a variety of conditions including arthritis, high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction.
  • They appear useful for detoxification and improving general health.
  • Some people include acai in their diet as a weight-loss aid.

What is the nutritional breakdown of acai?

Acai contains healthy amino acids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, all of which are needed by the body for optimal health. They are also rich in vitamin B and vitamin K, and contain significant amounts of vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). These help the body metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Acai can be consumed raw, in tablet form, in beverages such as juice, smoothies (using acai berry powder) and energy drinks, or in jelly or ice-cream. An acai bowl is becoming quite popular and consists of frozen acai berries, topped with fresh fruit and crunchy granola.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

No recommended daily intake has been established, and the appropriate dose of acai depends on factors including age, health and several other conditions.

There isn’t enough research to establish whether acai is safe. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid it.

Follow relevant directions on product labels and speak to your Clicks pharmacist before consuming it.

Know the overdose risks

Side effects are rare, but acai pills could cause:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Detox symptoms such as headaches and an upset stomach
  • Dramatic weight loss

People who are affected by pollen allergies may have trouble with acai products. Users have reported that their allergies were aggravated by the berries. Drinking raw acai juice has reportedly also been linked to outbreaks of a disease called American trypanosomiasis or Chagas Disease. Symptoms incluce a rash, fever, vomitting and diarrhoea.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015