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Are Acai Berries Better Than Blueberries?

are acai berries healthy
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

We know that blueberries are good for us—packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, a good source of fiber, and a staple in any SuperFoodie kitchen. But what about the acai berry? They’re often called a SuperFood, but are acai berries healthy? What does the science say?

Acai is a small dark purple berry found in the rainforests of South America. It has become “the next big superfood” in the last few years, in part owing to the popularity of the acai bowl in health food restaurants.

Though rigorous, credible research into this berry is lacking, we do know that it contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and other phytonutrients common to berries in general. A small study looking at prediabetes showed some improvement in metabolic parameters after supplementation with acai powder. Another study pointed to potential for acai to boost the immune system.

So what’s the verdict—should we ditch our blueberries for acai? We think not, and here are four reasons why:

  1. Availability and Price
    Acai comes from South America, while blueberries are grown in the good ol’ USA. As such, acai tends to be cost prohibitive for many consumers.
  2. Acai Berries Aren’t Inherently Sweet
    They’re similar in flavor to the unsweetened cranberry. So, unlike a blueberry, you wouldn’t necessarily want to dive into a bowl full of fresh acai berries. This brings up another point.
  3. Product Type
    Blueberries are readily available fresh, frozen, dried, and preserved as jams and preserves. Acai tends to only be available in powdered or frozen concentrated form. This makes acai more of a nutrient booster than a nutrient main dish.
  4. The Evidence
    It’s difficult for the acai to outrank the blueberry when it comes to sheer volume of evidence—there are thousands of studies attesting to the health-prowess of the humble blueberry.

Here at SuperFoodsRx, we’re not against these new berries on the block. Go ahead and add acai to your smoothies, shakes, and granola bowls. They’re totally safe and do contain healthful phytonutrients. But don’t forget the other less glamorous berries—the raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Nutrition Journal, National Institutes of Health

 

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