Acai berry tea: health benefits, medical uses and side effects
Are you bored with your tea brand? Do you want to try some new and exciting? If so then you need to read this article as it will inform you about acai berry tea, its benefits, medical uses and some side effects.
Acai berry tea
Acai berry fruit comes from acai palm, which is a species present in the genus Euterpe and is usually cultivated for its palms and fruits. Its scientific name is Euterpe oleracea. The name acai palm is derived from the Brazilian Portuguese of the Tupian word wacai, which means the fruit that expels water or cries. The demand of this fruit worldwide has increased during the recent years and its cultivation has increased significantly.
Acai berry is usually found in Brazil and Trinidad and the northern South America. It is mainly found in floodplains and swamps. Acai palms are quite slim, tall and they can grow up to more than 25 meters in height.
The fruit of acai palm is known as acai berry that is a round, small and black purple drupe. It has a circumference of about 1 inch and has the same shape as grapes but is smaller and has less pulp. The branches can bear as many as 500 to 900 fruits. The exocarp of the fruit has a deep green or purple color. The color mainly depends on the kind of berry and its age of maturity. The mesocarp is quite pulpy and thin and has a thickness of about 1 mm. It is present around the endocarp in which a single large seed is present that is about 7 to 10 mm in diameter. 80% of the fruit is composed of the seed. About two crops of fruit are cultivated every year. The fruits can be harvested and eaten. A study showed that the fruit makes up to 42% of the daily diet of the Brazilian Portuguese people.
A 2005 article published by Green peace that acai palm is the most important non-wood forest from which money is obtained. Another article published in 2008 in the Los Angeles Times mentioned that acai berry is considered as a good source which can help in the sustenance of livelihood. But some conservationists are of the view that this plant can cause destruction especially in the application of insecticides and pesticides. A 2009 report given by Bloomberg stated that acai berry is quickly gaining popularity in the United States and the Brazilian people are being deprived of this important food which they have eaten for centuries. The acai berry is grown conventional but recently a US Company Sambazon received certification for the cultivation of their acai palm plantations.
Now let us view the main cultivars of this fruit. There are a few cultivars of this fruit and they mostly differ due to the nature of the fruit. Two popular cultivars of this fruit have been mentioned below:
- The first popular cultivar is ‘BRS-Para Dwarf’ which is made by a research agency in Brazil. Its general height is about 5 to 7 meters. The main advantage which it has over the wild acai plant is that it produces fruits quickly and the fruits have 25% more pulp present in them.
- The other popular cultivar is ‘Branco’. It is quite a rare variety present in Amazon estuary. The berries in it don’t change color but they become green when they become ripe. This happens due to a recessive gene because ‘Branco’ palm seeds are about 30% mature when they express this feature. There is more oil present in it but has fewer antioxidants and less iron. Many people have the view that this berry has a superior taste as compared to purple acai berry.
Nutritional values of acai berry
Now let us look at the nutritional composition of acai berry. A powdered preparation of acai berry fruit contains about 533.9 calories. There are 52.2 g carbohydrates, 32.5 g fat, 8.1 g proteins and 44.2 g of dietary fiber. There is also some vitamin C in acai berries. It also contains 260 mg calcium, 4.4 mg iron and 1002 U of vitamin A. Glutamic acid and aspartic acid are also present in it. The major fat content consists of palmitic acid, oelic acid and linolenic acid. Beta-sitosterol is also a main constituent of acai berries.
Health benefits of acai berry tea
Acai Berry tea can be prepared from acai berries. Acai berry tea has a number of health benefits. It can help you stay healthy and help against several chronic problems. Some major health benefits of acai berry tea have been mentioned below:
The phytochemicals present in acai berries are known as flavonoids. The class of flavonoids present in acai berries is known as anthocyanins. Antioxidants actually protect the body cells from the dangerous effects of chemical reactions with oxygen (1). These antioxidants have great potential and help the body against different free radicals. The free radicals lead to oxidation with the passage of time which can damage the arteries and cause the hardening of arteries.
A laboratory study published in the “Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry” proved that acai berries have potent antioxidant properties in them. The researchers said that the flavonoids present in acai berries prevent oxidation.
Compounds present in acai berries can stop the inflammations in autoimmune diseases and allergies. A study recently published in the “Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry” claimed that acai berries stop the action of an enzyme known as cyclooxygenases. This enzyme plays a major role in the development of inflammation in arthritis.
Another study published in the same Journal in 2011 proved that acai berries are extremely beneficial in reducing the quantity of inflammatory chemical known as interleukins. So acai berries can be extremely beneficial in inflammatory disorders.
Acai berry tea is quite beneficial for a healthy heart. Research has shown that acai berries are extremely high in anthocyanins, which is an antioxidant that helps in lowering the blood pressure. Acai berry tea also contains plant sterols that provide protective benefits to our heart by lowering cholesterol levels. Use of this tea, therefore, can results in relaxation of blood vessels, less chances of clot formation and overall healthy circulation.
Beneficial against cancer
Free radical damage seems to be one of the most important contributor in cancer development. There are several ways how free radical trigger cancer development in cells, but one way is to lead to the formation of cancer promoting cell mutation.
Anthocyanins in acai berries are quite unique and provide protection against free radical induced cell damage. A study was done in 2006 in the University of Florida to find out the effects of acai berries on cancer (2). The study showed that acai berries lead to the death of 86% of leukemia cells.
Beneficial for the immune system
Acai berries are also quite beneficial for the immune system of body. The oxidative stress is an important factor that leads to the weakening of immune system. The antioxidants in acai berry improve the overall functioning of the immune system by fighting off oxidative stress.
Arabinogalactan is a unique fraction commonly found in acai berries. It is a specific kind of carbohydrate that increases the T cell stimulatory activity and their overall production.
Metabolic disease prevention
Obesity is the main reason for different metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. A May 2011 study published in the “Nutrition Journal” stated that the daily consumption of acai berries can reduce the insulin and glucose levels and can also reduce the total cholesterol levels in the body. This shows how important acai berry tea can be for diabetics.
Reducing mental decline
A 2009 review published in the “Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care” journal stated that berries like acai berries, which are rich in antioxidants, ensure proper cognitive functioning as one ages. There are several antioxidants in acai berries that improve neural signaling and maintain their overall health as one ages. So, acai berry tea is quite helpful for aged people to prevent their cognitive decline. It’s also equally beneficial for young people who want something to boost their mental performance.
Health of the cardiovascular system
The primary ingredient present in grapes are wine. They are quite similar to berries as they have high level of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins reduce the blood cholesterol by removing the harmful LDL cholesterol from the artery walls and thus reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and atherosclerosis. Large amounts of plant sterols are also present in acai berries, which function as vasodilators (they expands the blood vessels and reduce the blood pressure and relax the blood vessels in the body). Acai berries also prevent the abnormal clotting of blood and keep the blood running.
Acai berry tea and weight loss
Some researchers have suggested that use of acai berry preparations, like acai berry tea, can promote weight loss. Acai berry tea accomplished this by reducing the negative fats in the body. Acai weight loss supplements have become quite popular in recent years and the people who have tried acai berries for weight loss have given positive responses.
A popular study was done relating to acai berries which found out that the insulin and glucose levels are lowered significantly only after 30 days of use of acai berries. The total cholesterol levels are also reduced. More research is being done on the effect of acai berries on weight loss but the present studies prove that acai berry tea does have an effect on weight loss.
There is high fiber content in acai berries which stops hunger and overeating. But there are also contradictory studies related to the effect of acai berries on weight loss. Some studies have suggested that acai berries alone doesn’t promote weight loss (3). The researchers in the study provided acai juice to animals and found that there was no change in the body weight of the rats who were given acai juice compared to the control group.
Providing a healthy skin
Acai berries have good antioxidant properties in them. Researchers now know the relationship between skin health and antioxidants. Acai oil is used in different modern cosmetic products these days because there are certain antioxidants in acai that relieve the itchiness and redness of the skin. Acai berries can give a person healthy and glowing skin when they are ingested. The pulp of acai berries has been used for quite some time among the people of Brazil for the treatment of different skin diseases and conditions.
Aphrodisiac means that the foods which are helpful in increasing the sexual stamina of a person. Current studies show that acai berries have no direct effect on the sexual stamina of a person. But there is some research which indicates that the intake of acai berries increases the general blood circulation of the body, including that to the sex organs. The lack of blood flow in the body is the main cause of sexual dysfunction and lack of sexual stamina. So acai berry tea can be considered as an alternative medicine to help improve sexual stamina.
Slowing the aging process
The major benefit of acai berry tea is that it slows down the aging process in people because of the high level antioxidants in it. Antioxidants remove the free radicals from the body; these free radicals lead to the breakdown of skin, teeth, eye and hair and can often lead to premature aging. The signs of aging can be reduced significantly by the regular intake of acai berry tea. You can also take acai berry oil and apply it to different topical areas of the skin to reduce the signs of aging.
Digestion and intestinal health
Another major benefit of acai berries is that it improves the digestive health. It has been seen that acai berries have good detoxifying effects on the body, which help in cleaning the digestive system and removing the toxins which build up in the body. There is also high levels of fiber in acai berries which helps in absorption of nutrients from the food. The bowel of a person is bulked by the fiber which lessens the risks of different digestive issues like constipation. The intake of acai berries can also bulk up the stool if you suffer from loose stools. This can also prevent diarrhea.
Improving cellular health
A good quality of antioxidants are present in acai berries which helps in improving the cellular functioning and metabolism. The chances of cell death are reduced due to this and efficiency of cell absorption is improved.
Medical uses of acai berry tea
Now let us move towards the medical uses of acai berry tea. Acai berry tea has a number of medical uses for the body. Some of these uses are described below:
- Acai berries are known as “superfoods” because they boost the energy levels of an individual. They have a high mineral and vitamin content, which makes them a great source of energy and makes people more active than before.
- Acai berry tea can also improve the vision of an individual. It has vision enhancing effects mainly due to its high vitamin A content. This keeps the eyes healthy and also leads to a beautiful and charming skin.
- Acai berry tea contains a compound known as pterostilbene that reverses the aging effects and improves the brain functioning and mental alertness. Different kinds of fatigues are also countered by the intake of this tea.
- It also helps in the nutrient absorption in the body and removes the toxins from the body, which leads to an improvement in the blood flow. Different vitamins and mineral like Vitamin A, C, B1, B3, present in acai berries improve the overall health.
- Acai berries contain a good amount of omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids in them. Large amounts of proteins and fibers are also present in acai berries. So, acai berry tea helps to lower the bad cholesterol in the body and regulate the blood sugar levels, which reduces the risk of certain heart diseases and diabetes.
- Acai berries also detoxify the body. They are rich in fibers which remove excess waste and hormones from the body.
- Acai berries contain a good amount of anthocyanins in them. They help to support the cardiovascular system and keep the heart healthy. Research has also shown that acai berries are quite beneficial for heart health (4).
- Acai berries are quite helpful in enhancing prostate health. It was seen that testosterone 5-alpha reductase was stopped by an ethanol extract of acai palm fruit. Acai berry fruit tablets were given to the patients suffering from enlarged prostate. This issue was resolved by the administration of 2 acai tablets for 1 month.
- Acai berry tea also functions as a vasodilator. It was seen that acai berries have a vasodilator effect in rat mesenteric vascular bed.
- Acai berry tea is quite helpful against mast cell activation disease. Genetically altered mast cells are produced in great numbers in this disease and they effect the functionality of an individual. Acai berries have antioxidants present in it which makes them beneficial against mast cells and stops their production. A study was conducted in 2011 which was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. The study examined the effects of acai berries on the degranulation in rats (5). The results of the study showed that acai berries stop the mast cell activation. But the researchers said that more research is needed to confirm the effects on human subjects.
- Acai berries also has some athero-protective benefits. This basically means that acai berries are quite helpful against atherosclerosis which is a dangerous disease in which the arteries are affected and fatty materials are deposited on the inner sides of the wall. A study was reported in June 2011. The study showed that acai berries end atherosclerosis in mice by different anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities (6). The study was done in the University of Arkanas and included mice with Vitamin E deficiency. Acai berries were given to the mice for 5 straight weeks and the results showed that acai berries reduce lipid peroxidation.
- Acai berries have also been found to be quite beneficial against emphysema. A study was done in 2011 in Brazil to find out the effects of acai berries on emphysema (7). Emphysema is caused due to cigarette smoking. It was found in the research that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of acai berries might be beneficial against emphysema. The study was done on rats and the rats were exposed to cigarette smoke. The results of the study supported the fact that acai berries are quite helpful against the harmful effects of emphysema.
Side effects of acai berry tea
Acai berry tea is generally quite beneficial for health. But it doesn’t take away the fact that acai berries do have some side effects. Some major side effects of acai berries have been mentioned below:
- Different toxins can be produced in the body when a person intakes too much acai berries. This can cause different side effects which range from mild fatigue to Candida.
- Acai berry tea can sometimes lead to the thinning of blood which can cause severe bleeding.
- The effects of vasodilation can be caused when acai berries are consumed in excessive quantities. This can cause a sharp reduction in blood pressure and can also prove to be life threatening for people already suffering from cardiac problems.
- Underweight people should avoid the intake of acai berry tea as it can cause weight loss and loss of appetite.
- Acai berries can work with different pain killers and drugs like aleve and aspirin. You shouldn’t ever combine acai berries with other antioxidants without the consent of your doctor. The effect of different cancer medicines is ended when acai berries are consumed along with it. The effects of MRI scan is also ended by the consumption of acai berries.
- Acai berries can lead to the transmission of Chagas disease. The remains of tritomines are present in acai berries which is a blood sucking insect in the South America which has a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi in it. The Chagas disease is caused due to this parasite.
- Swelling in the mouth, tongue and lips can be caused by the consumption of acai berries. Some respiratory problems are also caused due to this.
- Acai berry tea should be avoided by lactating women as it can cause harm to the baby.
- Irritation in the intestines and colon can also be caused due to acai berries which can ultimately lead to diarrhea.
- Some other side effects of acai berries are reduced vision, headache and deafness.
Acai berry tea has lots of benefits and medical uses. While it helps in treatment of some serious diseases and health problems and boosts immune system and promote cardiovascular health, it also has some side effects and risks, such as blood pressure drops or loss of appetite. While it is normally safe if drinking in small quantity, you should never drink acai berry tea without prior consent of your physician.
|Written by:||Michal Vilímovský (EN)|
|Education:||Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic|
|Article resources:||See numbered references within the article|
|Published:||September 3, 2015 1:25 AM|
|Next scheduled update:||September 3, 2017 1:25 AM|