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The acai (ah-sigh-EE) berry is a grapelike fruit harvested from acai palm trees, which are native to the rainforests of South America. Like other berries, acai berries contain antioxidants and fiber.
Acai berries are widely touted as a so-called superfood, with proponents claiming that they are helpful for a variety of health concerns, including arthritis, weight loss, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, skin appearance, detoxification and general health. However, research on acai berries is limited, and the claims about their health benefits haven't been proved.
Acai is usually safe to consume. But avoid acai if you're pregnant or breast-feeding because there's insufficient information on its safety for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
If you'd like to try acai, check your local health food or gourmet stores. Acai can be consumed raw or in:
If you're taking amounts of acai higher than you'd normally eat as food, such as in dietary supplements, be sure to tell your health care provider. It's also important to let your doctor know that you've been eating acai berries if you're scheduled to have an MRI. Very large doses of acai might affect the results of the test.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
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