Acai Berry: Weight-Loss Miracle or Hoax?
January 4, 2011 by Dr. Mark Wiley
Weight loss supplementation is a billion dollar industry. Every supplement known to man has come and gone, from laxatives to metabolic boosters to fat trappers. Some work and others only drain the wallet. The new kid on the block is acai berry, and Oprah and Rachael Ray are its biggest fans.
The acai “berry” is actually a fruit. But its shape, size and color remind people of grapes. Unlike grapes, however, it doesn’t contain very much pulp. Also, the acai contains a single large seed, like the pit of a plum. The fruit grows on trees, with approximately 800 fruits per panicle (which is something like a branch). Acai are harvested and are a staple food in under-developed regions of the world. In fact, in a 1999 study of three ethnic groups in the Brazilian Amazon, acai palm was found to be such a major part of their diet that more than 40 percent of their meals contained this fruit.
Acai juice, extract and pulp are consumed today in various blended drinks, smoothies, ice creams, liqueurs and even in sodas. In the south of Brazil, it is consumed in a bowl mixed with granola. In addition to the above-named popular talk show hosts, respected physicians such as Dr. Nicholas Perricone have publicly called it one of Earth’s super foods.
It’s true that acai is nutritionally dense, but does taking acai supplements or enhanced juice beverages actually lead to weight loss? To be honest, the claim doesn’t seem to be true. As of today, there have been no controlled studies carried out to support its weight-loss miracle claim.
In fact, according to ABCNews.com, "Companies used the fact that Oprah and Mehmet Oz talked about the acai berries on their shows to create the impression that Oprah and Oz were selling these products—and endorsing them," said David Schardt, from the Center for Science and Public Interest. The Center for Science and the Public Interest says there is no evidence acai actually helps you lose weight.
However, research has found (to varying degrees) that acai does contain high levels of antioxidants. It is touted and marketed in the United States as being able to simultaneously decrease appetite, increase energy, remove excess waste from the body, cure constipation, decrease bloating and water retention, relieve muscle cramps, aches and pain, lower cholesterol, reverse diabetes and improve heart and digestive health while cleansing the system. Wow!
So if acai can’t shed those pounds like the natural miracle berry it’s been hailed to be, at least consuming it can help you remain healthy and strong by virtue of its antioxidant power!
–Dr. Mark Wiley