Like any herbal supplement on the market today, numerous claims have been made about the benefits of acai berries. The fruit itself is said to contain antioxidants, amino acids, essential fatty acids, fiber, protein, plant sterols and many other vitamins and minerals. Some people even call it a "superfood." However, studies of the berry, as well as other nutritional supplements that contain acai, are limited. This can make it rather difficult to determine whether or not any of the statements are true, so it's best to maintain some cautious optimism when taking the acai vitamin for your health.
Since the acai berry contains omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and plant sterols, there is the potential that a supplement made from the fruit can have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fatty acids increase the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in your blood. As HDL levels rise, they often lower the level of both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, two fatty substances linked to an increased risk of high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. However, studies generally use the fatty acids found in fish and nuts to improve cholesterol levels, so it's still unclear whether or not essential fatty acids from acai will do the same thing.
Plant sterols can also promote digestion and help lower total cholesterol. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), plant sterols decrease the amount of cholesterol absorbed within the intestinal tract, thereby lowering cholesterol levels. However, the use of sterols is often accompanied by a low-fat diet, and there's some indication that sterols alone won't impact cholesterol enough without dietary changes.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also shown some influence over both blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, leading to the belief that an acai supplement may help in the treatment of hypertension, heart disease and arrhythmia. According to the American Heart Association, it's still unclear exactly how much of this essential fatty acid is required to make a positive impact on cardiovascular health. For the most part, food is still considered the best source of essential fatty acids, but tablets or capsules may help supplement diets that are deficient in these nutrients.
Another supposed benefit of acai supplements is weight loss. It's believed that the amino acids, essential fatty acids and other nutrients make your body burn fat more effectively, but there's no evidence of this benefit. Caloric restrictions and dietary changes are usually recommended along with the supplement, so any weight loss you experience may be attributed to the reduction in calories and elimination of saturated fat, not the supplement itself.