Acai berries and blueberries are both fruits that are marketed as healthy foods. They are both a healthier alternative to fast food.
In this article, we discuss the nutritional value of these two foods and describe whether acai berries or blueberries are a better choice to make for your diet.
Overview of Acai Berries & Blueberries
Acai berries are the fruit of a palm tree, Euterpe oleracea, that grows in South America and Central America. (1) These fruits are actually correctly classified as drupes but are commonly called berries. They are marketed for their high antioxidant activity and low sugar content.
The fruit of the acai palm is used as food and to flavor food products such as ice cream or sweets. (2). The oil of acai berries is used to make a range of products including shampoos and soaps.
Acai berries do not have a very long shelf life and, thus, are shipped frozen and then made into a drink or puree. The fruits are harvested from the trees, sterilized in chlorine water before being washed again, and the pulp is then extracted and frozen (3).
Frozen pulp is shipped all over the world for use in making puree or acai berry juice.
Blueberries are the fruit produced by plants of the Vaccinium species (4). These berries are also marketed as a nutritionally rich food source that contains many useful vitamins. Blueberries can be added to pies or breakfast cereal, or eaten alone as a healthy snack.
There are more than one species of blueberry, with the tallest species growing up to 4 m. Smaller species only grow about 10 cm above the ground.
The plants harvested commercially grow in Canada, the United States, and in parts of Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South and Central America.
Since blueberries are grown all over the world, it is often possible to find fresh blueberries to buy. They are harvested by hand or, in some cases, mechanically. Blueberries can be marketed as fresh or frozen fruit.
Nutritional Table Comparison
|Acai berry puree (pure) per 100g||Blueberry (raw) per 100g|
|Calories per 100g (kcal)||60||57|
|Sugars, including NLEA (g)||0||9.96|
|Lipids (fats) (g)||5||0.33|
|Glycemic (GI) index||24.2 (for juice per 100 ml)||6.4|
|Vitamin A (IU)||1000||54|
|Vitamin B1 – thiamine (mg)||0||0.037|
|Vitamins B2 – riboflavin (mg)||0||0.041|
|Vitamin B3 – niacin (mg)||0||0.418|
|Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid (mg)||0||0.124|
|Vitamin B6 – pyridoxine (mg)||0||0.052|
|Vitamin B9 – folate (µg)||0||6|
|Vitamin B12 (µg)||0||0|
|Vitamin C (mg)||9.6||9.7|
|Vitamin D (µg)||0||0|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0||0|
|Acai berry juice and extracts||Blueberries (conventionally grown)|
|Polyphenols (mg)||350 (a)||560 (b)|
|Flavonoids (mg)||261 (a)||82.4 (c)|
The nutritional data in the above table are for acai berry puree and for raw blueberry. All nutrients are given as per 100 g unless otherwise indicated. The data are taken from the USDA website (5, 6), and other studies a, b, c (7, 8, 9).
Acai Berries vs Blueberries Health Comparison
To compare acai berries and blueberries in terms of how beneficial they are for health, we have used scientific studies. Both types of fruit have some useful nutrients that can help you to stay healthy.
Read on to learn more about these two fruits and how they can benefit you as part of a healthy meal plan.
Acai Berries Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Cholesterol
Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to food The insulin shuttles glucose out of the blood and into the cells where it is needed (10).
People with poor control of blood sugar may have insulin resistance where too much sugar remains in the bloodstream. Another problem that a person can have, is low blood sugar which can be from too much insulin.
Hypoglycemia can be for many reasons and it can be a problem for insulin-dependent diabetics.
Studies showed that Acai berries reduced both insulin and fasting glucose in people after a month (11). This resulted in better blood sugar control.
There are two types of cholesterol in the body, HDL and LDL cholesterol. While HDL cholesterol is taken to the liver where it is converted into useful bile salts, LDL cholesterol is harmful because it can lead to atherosclerosis (12).
It is important to realize that LDL is the unhealthy kind of cholesterol causing atherosclerosis because it sticks in your blood vessels, clogging them up and eventually causing heart attacks.
Acai berries contain no cholesterol and are helpful in that they reduce the levels of blood triglycerides, specifically LDL cholesterol. The effect of different foods on LDL is therefore significant when it comes to heart disease.
The acai berries have more fat than blueberries, but most of this fat is in the form of oleic acid (13). Oleic acid is a healthy fat because it helps the cardiovascular system by decreasing the cholesterol levels in the blood (14).
Acai Berries Contain Lots of Antioxidants and Vitamins
Vitamin A is an important nutrient that is needed for the functioning of the photoreceptors of the eyes (17). The photoreceptors are the cells that allow us to see.
Vitamin C is essential for us to take in with food or drink every day. This is because we need it to keep our skin and immune system healthy.
A lack of vitamin C can lead to a deficiency syndrome called scurvy, which causes health problems like anemia, bleeding gums, and weakness. (18)
Acai Berries Impact on Immune Systems
Acai berries also have plant compounds besides vitamins that are beneficial for your immune system (19). The antioxidant compounds such as proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins (both types of flavonoids) found in acai berries also help keep the immune system in top form.
There is also a fair quantity of polyphenols present in acai berries. These are other types of plant chemicals that help immunity (20). The polyphenols appear to help by interacting with molecules in various pathways involved when an immune response is activated.
Blueberries Help Control Blood Sugar Levels Too
Blueberries have a lower GI index than acai berry juice. However, the acai berry juice often has added sugars from other fruits that are added to it, making it difficult to know what the pure acai berry GI index is.
Studies on berries have demonstrated that blueberries prevent blood sugar from rising rapidly after a meal (21).
Blueberries helped insulin resistance in obese men with insulin resistance (22). This is a precursor to the later development of type 2 diabetes.
Blueberries do have some fructose, which in large amounts is unhealthy, but the concentration is low, which means it is unlikely to cause a problem for health.
The blueberries have similar amounts of dietary fiber compared with acai berries. The fiber is helpful in controlling cholesterol, and for helping blood sugar control in diabetics (23).
Blueberries Contain Lots of Flavonoids and Polyphenols That Help Manage Inflammation
Blueberry contains large amounts of plant compounds known as flavonoids and polyphenols. The relative amounts vary according to the species of the blueberry plant.
The flavonoids present include anthocyanin, and chlorogenic acid, along with flavanol oligomer (24). Flavonoids are beneficial for the cardiovascular system and the central nervous system. In other words, blueberries are good for your heart and circulation and are good brain food.
One reason blueberries are good for the brain is that they reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (25). Many illnesses, including degenerative diseases of the brain, are linked to excessive inflammation in the body (26).
The additional B vitamins present in blueberries also help the nervous system and help with cellular reactions. Blueberries have as much vitamin C as acai berries, which along with the polyphenols and flavonoids gives them high antioxidant ability.
Blueberries Contain Lots of Other Important Minerals
There are many important minerals found in blueberries, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, and iron.
Electrolytes such as sodium are lost during sweating (27). This means that athletes, in particular, need to ensure they drink liquids that contain electrolytes such as these.
The proper working of the nerves and muscles of the body relies on a combination and balance of particular electrolytes, specifically sodium, potassium, and calcium.
The muscle cramps athletes experience can sometimes be because they have low electrolytes affecting the muscles (28). Blueberries do have some electrolytes that are beneficial for our nerves and muscles.
The iron in blueberries is also helpful since we need iron to form hemoglobin in our blood (29). It is the hemoglobin on red blood cells that the oxygen attaches to. If you do not have enough iron, you do not have sufficient hemoglobin and your blood cells cannot carry as much oxygen around the body.
Acai Berries vs Blueberry Taste
Acai berry has an earthy taste because it has high acidity. The taste of blueberries can vary depending on how ripe the berries are.
Some blueberries taste very sweet, but in other cases, the taste is very bitter. Bitter-tasting blueberries have more acidity and have less sugar present. The taste may also vary depending on which plant species the blueberries are harvested from.
The taste of both types of fruit can be improved by adding extra sugar, but this then negates the health benefits that they provide.
Acai Berries vs Blueberry in Appearance
Acai berries are dark purple in color and are about an inch in diameter. They do contain a large pit in the center and are therefore known as drupes (30). The inside flesh of the berry is yellow in color.
The color of blueberries ranges from light blue to dark purple color. Blueberries are not drupes because there is no inside pit like is found in acai berries.
The colors of both ripe acai berries and blueberries are due to the presence of flavonoid antioxidants present in the skin of the fruit (31).
The blueberry is a berry that is an oval shape. The size is different depending on which species of blueberry the fruit is harvested from. Larger species can produce fruit that is greater than ¾ inch in diameter.
Which is Better?
The antioxidant ability of acai berries is high, but comparing the data indicates that blueberries have more polyphenols and flavonoids, but acai berry juice also has more vitamin A than blueberries, which is more helpful for your eyes.
A major drawback to acai berries is that you cannot easily get fresh fruit. This is because the plant grows in South and Central America and is shipped frozen, which may cause deterioration of nutritional content.
For this reason, we suggest that it is a good idea to choose blueberries. Blueberries also provide a lot of minerals and B vitamins that are beneficial for health, along with having high antioxidant ability.
Both acai berries and blueberries are healthy choices containing lots of antioxidant vitamins and plant compounds. In conclusion, both acai berry and blueberry can be eaten as part of a healthy diet.