Acai While Pregnant and Breastfeeding
If you are a health-conscious woman, you are likely to have tried acai in the past or at least heard of the reported benefits of this superfood. It has been said to help with everything from weight loss to inflammation to giving you clearer skin. Who wouldn’t want to take a supplement that can provide you with all those wonderful effects? But supplements and superfoods can seem a bit trickier once you are pregnant or breastfeeding because now you have a little one to worry about. As a pregnant woman or a woman considering becoming pregnant, you may have considered is acai safe during pregnancy.
That is a totally understandable question to have at this critical stage of your life. Below we will talk about what acai is, the possible benefits of this superfood, how you can access it via supplement or in acai bowls, and its safety for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Is Acai?
Pronounced (ah-sigh-EE). The acai berry is a reddish-purple fruit that is about an inch long. It comes from the acai palm tree. The acai palm tree is native to Central and South America. There are many studies showing that acai fruit pulp is richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries. These berries are touted as a superfood with both anti-aging and weight loss properties. There are claims that they are helpful for a variety of health concerns.
- weight loss
- high cholesterol
- erectile dysfunction
- skin appearance
- general health
They are available in tablets, juices, jellies, and frozen to be added to smoothies or made into acai bowls. They can also be found in some beauty products due to the antioxidants. Acai is usually considered safe to consume. There is limited research on the berries to this date, so what is known about consumption safety is still limited.
Benefits of Acai
According to Healthline, a significant benefit of acai berry is its nutrient density. In 100 grams of frozen fruit pulp, you have the following nutrition breakdown.
- Calories: 70
- Fat: 5 grams
- Saturated fat: 1.5 grams
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Sugar: 2 grams
- Fiber 2 grams
- Vitamin A: 15% of the RDI
- Calcium: 2% of the RDI
They also have been shown to contain some other trace minerals. These include chromium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Acai is also easily absorbed into the gut, which means your body gets the benefits of the berry quicker and at a higher rate. This was discovered in a 2008 study where fasting volunteers were given acai pulp, and then their antioxidant levels were tested. They may also improve cholesterol levels by lowering the bad LDL cholesterol in the body, and because they contain plant sterol, they prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the body. Pretty impressive for a little berry.
There is currently no definitive research on humans regarding acai and its role in having anti-cancer effects. There is, however, research in both test tubes and animal studies. Both of these have shown promising results. In mice fed acai pulp, some studies have shown a reduced incidence of both colon and bladder cancer.
It is also reported to be a great supplement for boosting brain function. The way it does this is by helping the brain stay healthy by cleaning up toxic cells, which is a process called autophagy. By doing so, it makes way for new nerves to form in your brain and enhance the communication between brain cells. As we get older, this process tends to work less efficiently. There have been lab tests showing that acai extract has helped stimulate this important response in brain cells.
What Is Acai Bowl – What Is Acai Bowl Made Of?
Acai bowls are insanely popular. They can be found in smoothie and coffee shops worldwide. Acai bowls look a lot like ice cream and can help curb a sweet craving just as ice cream does. It is a feel-good breakfast choice. An acai bowl is a very thick smoothie in a bowl that is topped with fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, and basically any healthy toppings your heart desires. They are incredibly filling and a great post-workout meal. Be warned. These bowls are not usually cheap to purchase or to compile all the ingredients to make yourself. Frozen acai can be pricey, as can the nuts, fruits, and other toppings you may like. For many people, this makes an acai bowl a treat and not an everyday breakfast.
Acai Berry Supplements
If you are looking for an easy and quick way to get in the benefits of the acai berry superfood and are not looking to drink a smoothie or eat an acai bowl, then the supplement form of acai berries may be right for you. Supplements come in several different formulas, and there are a lot of different companies that are selling this supplement.
- Liquid concentrate
You can find supplements made from acai berries at health and vitamin stores or at online retailers. Whenever purchasing any kind of supplement, make sure to do your research and only purchase them from a retailer that is reputable and is transparent with their ingredients and manufacturing process. Here are two of the best Acai products on the market.
NOW Freeze-Dried Acai
Navitas Organics Acai Powder
Is Acai Safe During Pregnancy?
The anti-aging, weight loss, and inflammation benefits that may come from acai berry consumption may have you asking is acai safe during pregnancy. Most medical institutions have not been able to verify if acai berry is safe during pregnancy. Therefore, there is not any definitive answer to if it is safe. There are likely going to be continuing studies on the effects of acai consumption and its many reported benefits. In the future, there may be a better answer to if it is safe during pregnancy. Right now, there is not a concrete yes or no. Depending on your doctor’s advice, you may want to wait until after pregnancy to begin or continue taking acai supplements or consuming the fruit, whether frozen in bowls or smoothies.
Are Acai Bowls Safe During Pregnancy?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, very little is currently known about whether or not it is safe to use acai during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The studies that have been done on acai tend to focus on its health benefits and its ability to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as its antioxidant effects.
There, unfortunately, have been no studies on its safety during pregnancy. Many of the ingredients in acai bowls are known to be safe and beneficial for pregnant women. So, if you are interested in eating the bowls or taking supplements, it may be a good idea to speak to your physician about their thoughts and medical expertise. They might tell you to limit your intake or maybe just have an acai bowl as a treat here and there.
Acai While Breastfeeding – Is It safe?
Just as with acai consumption during pregnancy, there is very little clinical research regarding taking acai supplements or eating acai bowls while breastfeeding. Acai berries that are eaten as food appear to be safe. Still, the lack of evidence about the safety of supplements made from acai is why WebMD does not recommend the supplements for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The best thing you can do if you are unsure if you should take these supplements or eat the frozen fruit itself is to speak to your physician. After a conversation with your doctor, you may decide to either wait until after breastfeeding to consume acai or to consume it in moderation.
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Acai Berry Side Effects
Too much of even a good thing can result in side effects. This is true with acai berry consumption as well. Acai berries are considered safe to consume in moderation, but if too much is ingested, you could experience side effects. These can include:
- Colon or intestinal tract irritation that may lead to diarrhea.
- Appetite suppression, which is not ideal for pregnant women and children.
- May amplify allergy-related symptoms.
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat.
- Reduction in blood pressure if consumed in large quantities.
It is essential to remember that these side effects are said to be possibilities after consuming large amounts of acai berries in whole or in supplement form. If you are eating an average amount or following the dosage on a supplement, then you are not likely to have any issues or side effects.
Like many superfoods and natural supplements, there is not as much clinical research as we would like as to the effectiveness and safety of acai berry. For someone questioning is acai safe during pregnancy, hopefully, the above information has helped you make a more informed decision on whether it is suitable for you during your pregnancy and when breastfeeding. If you are not quite sure or are still on the fence, reach out to your physician. They may have deeper information and experience working with acai berry and its safety or side effects when taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding.