The Acai berry is a fruit that is harvested from the Acai palm, which is found growing in South America. The berry has enjoyed newfound fame as a weight loss aid and as a health food. However, there are many advertisements that over-inflate the benefits and the price of this fruit. What is the truth about this newly popular fruit?
Sifting Through the Facts
The berries are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, and surprisingly heart healthy fats. Research on the health benefits of the Acai berry in human subjects is limited. And while some of that limited research is promising, consumers need to approach with a wary eye and pocketbook. Some juices are selling at $40 per bottle for a week’s supply. The fruit is highly perishable and is very difficult if not impossible to get in a fresh berry form. This fact can make the consumer very open to being scammed, paying high prices for a product that may contain very little or none of the product that they think they are getting.
A study of the fruit by the University of Florida found that extracts from the fruits killed leukemia cells in the laboratory. However; Dr. Andrew Weil, a well known expert in the field of integrative medicine, makes a very interesting point: there is a giant leap from what goes on in a laboratory test tube to what goes on in the human body. He also points out that results that happen in the lab often don’t bear fruit (excuse the pun) in clinical trials.
Another problem with new health and wellness fads is that often the claims that are made cannot be regulated by the FDA. If the product is being promoted as a dietary supplement, look twice before parting with your money. Dietary supplements go virtually unregulated by the FDA. If the product is marketed as a food, then restrictions are placed on the health claims that can be made about the product and the claims are strictly regulated.
The smart thing for consumers is to focus on the overall picture and not look for a magic pill or product. Fruits and vegetables are healthy; there is no disputing that fact and if you are willing to foot the expense the Acai berry is not unhealthy. However, you will probably get comparable benefits from choosing a wide array of fruits and vegetable for your diet and following a moderate eating plan.