Acai is an exotic berry sourced mostly from the Amazons that is known for its ability to help people lose weight and improve their overall energy levels.
It’s become extremely popular in recent years, largely in part because it tastes good and it appeared on shows like Dr. Oz.
We set out to cover the best acai products.
1. Nature Bound Acai Berry
Nature Bound offers an acai supplement that is powerful, concentrated, and free of any other supplement ingredients save for the usual gelatin capsule (from animals; sorry, vegetarians) and binding compounds.
With a 4:1 concentration, each 600 mg capsule is providing the equivalent of 2400 mg of raw acai berry. With its strong concentration and its simple design philosophy, Nature Bound Acai Berry is our top pick.
2. Puritan’s Pride Triple Strength Acai
Puritan’s Pride has quite a high dosage of acai berry in their supplement, though because they do not provide the concentration ratio, it may not be quite as impressive as the label suggests.
For one, the stated amount on the bottle–3000 mg of acai—applies to each serving, which is two capsules. One capsule is going to be 1500 mg, and if it hasn’t been concentrated, might only be equivalent to 375 mg of 4:1 acai concentrate.
Even so, that’s still a respectable amount. The only other detriment is the inclusion of soybean oil, which will be a downside for the rare customer that avoids soy products. Even considering these defects, it’s still a very solid product.
3. OptiNatural Acai
OptiNatural Acai gives you a straightforward and simple acai supplement with no extras packed in–just the ingredients you want. The acai berry fruit present in this supplement comes at a 4:1 concentration, in an amount of 600 mg per capsule.
The bovine gelatin that constitutes the capsule is bad news for strict vegetarians, but aside from that, it’s great for just about everybody who wants the health-boosting properties of acai without any other supplements coming along for the ride.
4. NOW Freeze-Dried Acai
NOW is known for its wide range of basic, no-frills supplement products, and that’s exactly what you are getting with their freeze-dried acai supplement.
Each capsule contains 500 mg of acai, though it’s not concentrated so you do need to keep that in mind when comparing it to other acai products. One perk that NOW’s acai supplement has going for it is that it is one of the best acai products that is also vegan-friendly.
Its capsules are made with vegetable-derived cellulose and vegetable-derived binders, so there are no animal cruelty concerns.
5. Health Harmony Super Antioxidants
Super Antioxidants is a combined supplement that provides a plethora of powerful antioxidant extracts from several superfoods, acai included.
The supplement includes a healthy amount of acai, goji berry, noni fruit, mangosteen, pomegranate, and resveratrol (from red grapes), as well as a small amount of a proprietary blend that includes several other antioxidant sources, like raspberry, black cherry, and blueberry, to name just a few.
The acai content of Health Harmony Super Antioxidants is mediocre, at 150 mg per capsule, so its main benefit is the fact that it delivers the acai in combination with all of these other antioxidant sources. The inclusion of noni and mangosteen may give it weight loss benefits that extend beyond those of acai, too.
6. Piping Rock Triple Strength Acai
Piping Rock Triple Strength Acai uses a reconstituted form of acai extract to provide the equivalent of 3000 mg of acai per capsule, which is quite a high dosage.
The other ingredients are fairly standard; the capsule is gelatin based and it uses rice flour as a binder and as a filler. Piping Rock uses a quick release capsule design that will give you a rush of antioxidants, but that may not be what you want with a high dosage serving like this.
It may be better for a slower, controlled release to keep antioxidant levels consistently high throughout your day.
7. Madre Nature Acai Berry
Madre Nature Acai Berry is a lower dosage supplement, with 500 mg of acai berry per capsule. It does hold the distinction of being the most simple acai supplement out there, with only two ingredients–acai berry and vegan cellulose to make up the capsule.
It’s a great choice for vegetarians and vegans if you know that you don’t need an exceptionally high dosage of acai.
8. Brandon Sciences Acai Berry
Brandon Sciences follows the same formula as a few of the other top acai berry supplements. It uses a 4:1 concentrate of acai berry extract in a dosage of 600 mg per capsule.
Its capsules are made out of bovine (i.e. cow) gelatin, and its only other ingredients are binders and stabilizers to improve shelf life.
As with the other products with this design philosophy, it’s a solid choice, though Brandon Sciences certainly isn’t innovating with this supplement.
9. LFI Labs Enhance Acai
Enhance Acai from LFI Labs is a supplement that uses a formula that should be pretty familiar by now: 600 mg of acai berry extract at a 4:1 concentration, with bovine gelatin as a capsule delivery vehicle and a few other ingredients to increase the shelf life of the product.
LFI Labs certainly isn’t on to anything new here; rather, this acai berry product is more of a copycat of a successful model used by bigger and better established companies.
10. Health Force Antioxidant Extreme
While Health Force Antioxidant Extreme bills itself as an acai berry source, its actual content is astonishingly low.
Acai is only one ingredient of a proprietary blend of several antioxidants that only totals 22 mg, so even if the concentration was very high, the absolute acai berry content is still not going to be very big.
It’s a pretty decent overall antioxidant supplement, but don’t be led to believe that this is a good source of acai specifically.
Acai benefits and side effects
We have seen that the acai berry does contain a number of nutrient-rich chemicals, but the actual literature regarding the effectiveness of acai supplements seems to be clear: there are limited proven benefits to taking acai supplements (1).
Though there are people who have claimed wonderful benefits from taking acai, medical and scientific literature is still out about the effectiveness of acai supplements in regard to one’s health.
Acai pills are the most convenient way to supplement (but not necessarily the most effective). There are multiple ways to use acai (2).
You could always opt to eat acai berries (though they may be hard to find depending on where you are – they are sourced mostly from the Amazons in Brazil)
Acai may fight cancer. One study did find that certain chemicals in acai may prove to be beneficial in fighting cancer (3).
Though no research has been done to prove the effectiveness of acai supplements on the prevention or the treatment of cancer, the study is promising; it showed that chemicals within the acai berry have been known to cause apoptosis in leukemia cells.
Apoptosis is the process by which a cell self-destructs in order to preserve the body’s health. If these health benefits can be harnessed, acai supplements may offer an effective alternative to cancer prevention and treatment.
One study notes that it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of acai supplements on humans because most studies conducted about acai have been done on lab rats (4).
And, while some experiments done on our tiny furry rodents may certainly be replicated with humans, the nature of most acai studies make them difficult or impossible to actually use humans.
Acai also may help you lose weight. One of the major selling points behind acai is its alleged ability to “promote” weight loss. That’s why a study (thankfully) was conducted to test the validity of these claims and measure the effectiveness of acai supplements as a weight-loss agent (5).
In short, the results were inconclusive.
While the study didn’t mention that acai supplements are completely incapable of aiding in weight loss, it did state that scientific literature regarding its effectiveness has thus far proven inconclusive.
This, again, is due in part to the difficulty of performing tests on humans. However, as more and more research is conducted the benefits and disadvantages of using this supplement may become clearer.
Acai berries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. One study measured the antioxidant activity of acai berries actually surpasses that of other berry types, including cranberries and blueberries (6).
This may be why acai supplements and berries have gotten a reputation as being extremely beneficial for your health. Presumably, the higher concentration of anthocyanins (antioxidants) in acai makes the berry and its supplements better than other supplements.
However, as we’ve seen, it can be difficult to properly extract these beneficial properties for proper use in supplements.
Acai contains anthocyanins – which work to prevent signs of aging. We’ve talked a lot about anthocyanins, so it’s about time we talk about them in more depth. One study laid out many of the important health benefits that anthocyanins provide (7). In short, anthocyanins are effective as they help bond with and alter the function of free radicals in the body.
Free radicals can be damaging to the body, but antioxidants help bind to them and remove them from the body, reducing the harm that they can do such as causing wrinkles, cellular damage, and other signs of aging.
How dangerous are free radicals? They’ve been linked to cell death and even cancer, making them potentially very dangerous for your body.
Because of antioxidants’ ability to combat the negative effects of free radicals, supplements that contain these anthocyanins are considered to be good for our health. It’s imperative however that what you are getting really contains antioxidants that will survive your digestive tract and benefit you (or else all you are going to end up with is obnoxiously expensive pee).
Acai oil may improve absorption. Another way in which acai has been utilized is by extracting oil from the pulp of the berry (8). Researchers believe that acai oil may be used to increase cellular absorption of the chemical properties contained within.
This has led to increased research on the feasibility of using acai oil as a supplement in various kinds of products—from dietary supplements to skin creams.
While the verdict is still out about the use of acai oil, preliminary studies do suggest that it may, indeed, have greater benefits for our health than the supplements we currently see today.
Acai helps reduce oxidative cell damage for faster recovery. Recent research has suggested that acai – berry components may have additional benefits for our health in that they limit the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) (9). ROS, inhibit the immune system’s response to various afflictions, causing us to be more susceptible to disease and other maladies.
A study of seven different extraction methods of antioxidants from the pulp of acai berries found that five of the different methods produced a product that could greatly reduce the formation and production of ROS. This suggests that acai has benefits for our immune system and even improves recovery from exercise.
This research is still in a preliminary stage, and more needs to be done to accurately determine how acai berries and acai supplements can be used to supplement our diets in a way that is beneficial to our immune health. However, present findings give hope that future acai supplements will have proven medical benefits.
Acai berries can stimulate immune function. Other studies have been conducted to analyze the effects of eating acai berries on immune health, and the results are similarly promising (10). One study found that the chemical properties of acai berries may aid in the stimulation of innate immune responses.
In other words, acai has been linked to the re-awakening of some immune processes. This potentially means that we can strengthen our immune systems by stimulating dormant immune responses. Say goodbye to the winter blues.
Acai is excellent for skin health. In addition to preventing signs of aging acai is used often in natural skin care products (11). So, if you use these topical health products you still have to watch out for low-quality products just as if your acai beauty product was a drink, pill, or snack. With a product packed with acai, you’ll notice fewer wrinkles, fewer dark spots, and improved skin tone (12). Time to turn back the clock.
There aren’t any side effects of taking acai, but there are some “warnings” that people should take notice.
A study conducted detailed research on the effects digestion has on the antioxidant properties of acai supplements (13). What did it find? Despite acai supplements having a high antioxidant capacity in their natural form, dietary supplements appeared to lose effectiveness as they traveled through the digestive system.
The same study measured the antioxidant activity of various dietary supplements, including acai (14). Not only did acai lose effectiveness as it traveled through the digestive tract, but also acai supplements had lower antioxidant activity than other popular dietary supplements such as green tea and grape.
Acai extractions are not as effective. While anthocyanin may provide many of the health benefits that acai berries are known for, not all anthocyanins are the same. In natural acai berries there are a whole spectrum of anthocyanin components that form an entire anthocyanin complex (15).
This complex helps boost the absorption, delivery, and function of anthocyanin in the body so you can see the greatest health-boosting effects instead of buying “snake oil” products that just waste your money.
The acai berry is healthy, but the supplements probably won’t do too much. It’s like eating blueberries or other fruit packed with antioxidants.
However, the field of research regarding acai and its supplements is promising, as more and more medical and scientific literature suggests that acai berries are healthy. Even now, researchers are discovering new ways of extracting antioxidants and anthocyanins from acai berries so that we can develop better supplements.