Acai

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Question

What is acai?

Answer

The acai (pronounced ah-sigh'-ee) berry, a small, deep reddish-purple fruit of the acai palm tree (one of many palm sources of hearts of palm) that is native to tropical South and Central Americas, has been a traditional food of people living in the Amazon region for hundreds of years.

Antioxidant benefits

The interest in the acai berry currently is due to its antioxidant properties. It has 10 times the amount of antioxidants as red grapes, and 10 to 30 times the amount of the flavonoid anthocyanin (the deep pigment of the berry) as in red wine. Anthocyanins - as found in blueberries, for example - may help protect against diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. (A note about antioxidants: It's the pigments in fruits and vegetables that protect them from the sun's radiation. When you eat colorful fruits and vegetables, those antioxidants are transferred to you.)

As with all supplements, though, acai is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so you should discuss its use with your healthcare provider. Clinical studies are limited, so not all claims made on product packages can be substantiated. It can aggravate or even initiate high blood pressure, ulcers, intestinal bleeding, and edema. Patients being treated with anti-cancer agents (antineoplastics) are advised to avoid acai. Again - be sure to always let your physicians know of any supplement use, including acai.

View acai products available on Walgreens.com.

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