Acai berries, the fruit of a type of palm tree in South America, may be a good source of antioxidants, but they aren't your best option for increasing your intake of these beneficial substances. Fresh acai berries aren't usually available in the United States, where this fruit is mainly sold in the form of dried berries, supplements, juice and other processed forms. You can get your daily dose of antioxidants for a lot less money by choosing other, more readily available fruits or vegetables, including the pomegranate.
Pomegranate juice is a better source of antioxidants than acai juice, according to a study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2008. The study combined the results of four different tests of antioxidant capacity to form a potentially more accurate composite index. Pomegranate juice ranked first, with a score at least 20 percent higher than any other beverage tested, while acai juice was tied for fifth place with cranberry juice and black cherry juice. Red wine, Concord grape juice and blueberry juice also had a higher antioxidant potency than acai juice. Results were similar in another study, published in "Chemistry Central Journal" in 2011, with pomegranate powder showing higher antioxidant capacity per serving than acai powder.
Type of Antioxidants
These two fruits contain different mixes of antioxidants, with pomegranates providing a wider variety of these phytochemicals, or beneficial plant chemicals, than acai berries. Pomegranates contain antioxidants such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, flavonols and tannins, with most of the antioxidant activity coming from a phytochemical called punicalagin, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Antioxidants in acai berries, on the other hand, consist mainly of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins.
The antioxidants in pomegranate juice also exhibit more beneficial effects in the body than those found in acai juice. A study published in "Food & Function" in October 2010 compared the effects of drinking 35 different beverages, including varieties of both pomegranate and acai juice, and found that pomegranate juice was most effective in reducing the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol. This may help lower your risk for atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries. Black currant juice was also very effective for this purpose.
You're better off choosing a pomegranate than pomegranate juice. Pomegranate seeds, or arils, contain about 1.8 to 2 micromoles of antioxidants per 100-gram serving. Although pomegranate juice can be a bit higher in antioxidants per 100 grams, with 1.6 to 2.6 micromoles, the fruit is higher in fiber and lower in sugars and calories than the juice. A cup of pomegranate juice has 134 calories, 31.5 grams of sugar and just 0.2 gram of fiber, compared to the 72 calories, 11.9 grams of sugar and 3.5 grams of fiber, or 14 percent of the daily value, in a 1/2-cup serving of pomegranate arils. Pomegranates also have other beneficial nutrients besides antioxidants, with each 1/2-cup serving providing 15 percent of the DV for vitamin C and 18 percent of the DV for vitamin K.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Pomegranate Protection Against Cardiovascular Diseases
- Food & Function: Consumption of Polyphenolic-Rich Beverages (Mostly Pomegranate and Black Currant Juices) by Healthy Subjects for a Short Term Increased Serum Antioxidant Status, and the Serum's Ability to Attenuate Macrophage Cholesterol Accumulation
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Pomegranate
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Acai Berry
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Comparison of Antioxidant Potency of Commonly Consumed Polyphenol-Rich Beverages in the United States
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Do Acai Berries Have Special Health Benefits?
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- Nutrition Journal: The Total Antioxidant Content of More Than 3,100 Foods, Beverages, Spices, Herbs and Supplements Used Worldwide
- Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao Seeds Are a "Super Fruit": A Comparative Analysis of Various Fruit Powders and Products