Acai: Everything You Need to Know

Acai is a plant belonging to the palm family grown for its edible fruit and hearts of palm. Acai is native to Central and South America and has the scientific name of Euterpe oleracea (E. oleracea).

Acai has several plant chemicals. For example, acai pulp and oil extracts may contain various phenolic acids (a type of chemical compound) in addition to catechin and procyanidin oligomers.

The acai root and leaf extracts may contain various hydroxycinnamic acids and flavone derivatives (compounds used for their antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties).

These substances are likely responsible for how acai works.

This article will discuss what you should know about acai, including its potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP),, or NSF International.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, consult with your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and ask about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active Ingredient(s): Phenolic acids, catechin, procyanidin oligomers, hydroxycinnamic acids, and flavone derivatives
  • Alternate Names(s): Acai, açaí, assai, assaí, Euterpe oleracea, E. oleracea
  • Legal Status: Legal as food and substances added to food
  • Suggested Dose: Varies based on the dosage form and medical condition
  • Safety Considerations: Possible side effects, interactions, and special considerations for children, pregnancy, and breastfeeding

Uses of Acai

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

While additional, extensive research is necessary regarding acai's efficacy, people use it to treat various health conditions.

Research is most robust for acai's effects concerning the following:

  • Antioxidant effects
  • Blood sugar and cholesterol effects
  • Prostate cancer

Antioxidant Effects

In a small clinical trial, study participants added 200 grams (g) of acai pulp to their daily diet for four weeks. By the end of the study, the results showed that acai has antioxidant effects.

In general, antioxidants attack unstable atoms known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage components and systems within the body, including DNA.

While results from the clinical trial are promising, this small study only included healthy individuals assigned female at birth.

More research with higher-quality, long-term large trials is still necessary.

Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Effects

In a small clinical trial, participants carrying excess weight took 100 grams of acai pulp twice daily for one month.

At the end of the study, the participants had lower fasting (before-meal) blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.

Although the results were positive, this study was small. Therefore, updated research with higher-quality, longer-term, and more extensive trials is still needed.

Prostate Cancer

In a small clinical trial, study participants with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer (those who had a rise in blood marker levels after surgery or other treatment) drank 2 ounces of a specific acai juice product twice daily for 36 weeks.

By the study's end, only one participant experienced a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reduction that was at least 50% from baseline (measurement from the starting point of the trial). However, 71% of participants did have a lengthening of their PSA doubling time (PSADT).

PSADT is the amount of time it takes for your PSA to double. A short PSADT is typically linked with a higher risk of metastasis (spreading of cancer) and mortality (death).

While this clinical trial didn't reach its primary objective of at least a 50% PSA reduction from baseline for most participants, results did show that the acai juice product tested stabilized PSA levels.

Still, high-quality, more significant, and longer-term clinical trials are needed to understand acai's benefits.


Acai oil is a source of fatty acids.

The acai pulp also has proteins and a few B vitamins, including thiamine (B1) and pyridoxine (B6). Its minerals include boron, calcium, chromium, copper, manganese, magnesium, nickel, and potassium.

Acai: Everything You Need to Know
Getty Images / Thomas Barwick.

What Are the Side Effects of Acai?

As with many medications and natural products, acai can have side effects.

Common Side Effects

In an older study, no side effects were detected in a clinical trial that studied acai's effects on blood sugar and cholesterol in people with excess weight.

There were also no reported side effects in another clinical trial that studied acai's effects on PSA levels in people with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer.

Since weight loss is one of the acai's health claims, however, weight loss might be a potential side effect in those not looking to lose weight. But high-quality clinical trials in humans are necessary to determine acai's effects on weight.

Severe Side Effects

Possible serious side effects may include:

  • Severe allergic reaction: A severe allergic reaction is a profound side effect possible with any medication or natural product. If you're having a severe allergic reaction, you will experience breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash.
  • Chagas disease: Drinking unprocessed acai may raise your risk of getting Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis. Chagas disease is a parasitic infection from Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) in certain bloodsucking insects. In addition to bites from these insects, people can get this infection by eating food that's contaminated by these insects and their feces.
  • Problems with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results: Acai has been used as an experimental contrast agent for MRI. For this reason, acai might affect MRI results.

If you're having a severe allergic reaction or if any of your symptoms feel life-threatening, call 911 and get medical help right away.


A healthcare provider may advise against acai use if any of the following applies to you:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid acai if you have a known allergy to it or its ingredients or components.

If you need clarification on whether it's safe, ask a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), pharmacist, or healthcare provider.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: There is limited information about acai's effects and safety during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

But some acai product labels target pregnant or breastfeeding parents. Since more data is necessary, contact a healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks.

Adults over age 65: While older adults have participated in acai-based studies, additional research with more senior individuals is still necessary to assess the safety of acai in this age group.

Children: There is little information on acai's effects and safety in infants and children, but acai has been used as an alternative contrast agent in imaging tests, such as MRIs, in this age group.

While acai product labels are unlikely to target infants, some target children.

Diabetes: Acai may lower your blood sugar levels. For this reason, a healthcare provider may want to closely monitor you if you have diabetes, especially if you're taking diabetes medications like insulin.

Prostate cancer: Acai may lengthen your PSADT. Your healthcare provider may want to monitor you closely if you have prostate cancer.

Travelers: Before traveling, healthcare providers will likely recommend avoiding unprocessed acai. This prevents you from getting Chagas disease.

Dosage: How Much Acai Should I Consume?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are some studies on acai in humans, more research with high-quality clinical trials is still necessary.

For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage of acai for any condition.

In an antioxidant clinical trial, however, the amount of acai pulp was 200 grams by mouth daily for four weeks.

And in another study, participants with excess weight took 100 grams of acai pulp by mouth twice daily for 30 days to lower their blood sugar and cholesterol.

In the study testing lengthening of PSADT, the dosage was 2 ounces of a specific acai juice product taken twice daily for 36 weeks.

Dosing may vary based on the individual's dosage form and medical condition. Follow a healthcare provider's recommendations or product label instructions if you use acai.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Acai?

There is little information about the safety, toxicity, and overdose of acai in humans. However, overdose symptoms with acai are likely similar to its potentially common and serious side effects, just excessive and more severe.

If you accidentally take too much acai or suspect you are experiencing life-threatening side effects, seek immediate medical attention.

How to Prepare Acai

Before you prepare, use, or consume acai, please ensure it is processed. Consuming unprocessed acai is linked to Chagas disease.

You may use fresh acai pulp in sweets and beverages like wine. And you may mix the juice with tapioca.

You may also buy acai in powder form, which might also be available as dried or frozen, as in smoothies or juices. The hearts of palm may be eaten.


Possible interactions are mainly based on acai's potential uses or side effects.

Cholesterol medications: Acai may affect your cholesterol levels, meaning it might interact with cholesterol medications. A study showed an interaction between acai berries and a statin drug called Lipitor (atorvastatin).

Diabetes medications: Acai may affect your blood sugar levels, causing an additive effect (increasing potency) of some diabetes medications. A study showed that acai berry interacts with Jardiance (empagliflozin) and Nesina (alogliptin).

Prostate cancer treatments: Acai may lengthen the prostate-specific antigen, affecting the impact of prostate cancer treatments.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each element is included.

Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Acai

Unless otherwise indicated, most medicines should be stored in a cool and dry place. You should keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Fresh acai fruit will only last one day after being picked.

Avoid putting unused and expired products down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA website to learn where and how to discard all unused and expired medications.

You may also find disposal boxes in your area.

If you plan to travel with acai, become familiar with your final destination's regulations. Also, checking with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate before your trip may be helpful.

Similar Supplements

Acai has potential antioxidant, blood sugar–lowering, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Acai may also have some positive effects on prostate cancer.

Other similar supplements include:

Chromium: Chromium may improve blood sugar control in some people with diabetes. But there is conflicting evidence on this.

Flaxseed: A potential benefit of flaxseed is in lowering cholesterol, but study results are mixed.

Red yeast rice: Some red yeast rice Products have a substance called monacolin K that may lower cholesterol. Other red yeast rice products have very little monacolin K, but it's hard to determine how much.

It also has not been determined if cholesterol is reduced with red yeast rice products with little monacolin K. For these reasons, it's difficult to know whether red yeast rice lowers cholesterol.

Vitamins C or E: Vitamins C and E are examples of antioxidants. But in the Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, neither of these vitamins had beneficial effects on heart-related events, such as cardiac arrest or stroke.

Moreover, neither of these antioxidants decreased the likelihood of diabetes (high blood sugar) or cancer. Based on the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) results, vitamin E with selenium didn't prevent prostate cancer.

However, vitamins C and E with lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants may decrease the risk of worsening age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In AMD, blood leaks into the macula, which is the center of the retina in the back of the eye. The macula helps you see fine details and objects in your central field of vision. AMD can become vision-threatening.

Only combine multiple natural products once you first talk with a healthcare provider, pharmacist, or dietitian.

Checking in can help you avoid possible harmful interactions and side effects and ensure you're giving these supplements a fair trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of Acai & What to Look For

There are several different sources of acai, but health nutrition guidelines typically place more importance on food sources to improve the diet.

Although food sources are preferable, there is still a place for supplements for people with nutrient absorption problems. This may happen to people in certain age groups or with certain medical conditions.

Food Sources of Acai

Acai is naturally available as a plant from the palm family grown for its edible fruit and hearts of palm.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) generally categorizes acai or E. oleracea as food. The FDA also placed acai on its list of approved substances added to food.

You may add fresh acai pulp to sweets and beverages like wine. And you may mix the juice with tapioca.

It is also available in powder form and dried or frozen for smoothies or juices. The hearts of palm can be eaten.

Acai Supplements

Acai supplements are likely commonly available in capsule and powder forms.

Other acai supplement forms are:

  • Food bars
  • Chewables or gummies
  • Liquid
  • Tablets

Some of these other forms may come with additional ingredients. Vegetarian and vegan options should be available.


Acai is a plant from the palm family. Acai has potential antioxidant, blood sugar–lowering, and cholesterol-lowering effects. Acai may also have some benefits for prostate cancer.

Since additional research is needed, you will need to make sure the diagnosis and treatment of your medical conditions are completed on time.

Before using acai, consult with a dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider regarding the safety and efficacy of acai.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.