While many weight loss portals are analysing the benefits and supplemental doses of this acai berry, a dozen Hollywood biggies are seen endorsing its effect on body and a plentiful of shopping platforms are busy marketing and advertising the acai berries as ‘the secret to much sought after weight loss’.
So, if one believes what he sees, then perhaps the acai berries are the most potent weapon in our hand today to fight obesity. In such a scenario, it becomes important to know what exactly an acai berry is, how beneficial is it for reducing weight and if any research has authenticated the much advertised health claims of the acai berry.
It’s time that we get some straight facts about this wonder herb and understand the acai berries’ potential nutritive value and its effect on body’s metabolism and hence weight loss .
So, what is acai berry?
Acai berry is a bluish purple coloured fruit (a drupe, in fact) which is native to the swamps of Central and South American countries like Brazil and Peru. The acai berry is cultivated extensively in the region for its juicy acai pulp. Based on the local preference, the berry is enjoyed salty or sweet and is even used in smoothies, ice creams, juices and flavoured liqueurs.
Acai berry is available in the market as acai juice, acai pulp, acai powder and acai capsule. The acai berry has been claimed to possess a high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The fruit is touted to contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential to maintain good health and fight heart diseases.
The studies done on freeze dried acai pulp and skin have found that the berry contains (per 100 g of dry powder) 533.9 calories, 52.2 g carbohydrates, 8.1 g protein, and 32.5 g total fat. The carbohydrate content (out of which around 40% is fiber) and reasonably high protein content makes the fruit a good health choice. Among the vitamins, the carotenoids or vitamin A is quite abundant in the acai berry. The acai fruit pulp has good amount of polyphenols which render it intermediate antioxidant potency.
An independent study on a freeze-dried acai product (Opti-Acai) reported that the formulation contained much lower levels of anthocyanins, pro anthocyanadins, and other poly phenol compounds as compared with blueberries and other antioxidant-rich fruits. And these poly phenols were shown to degrade quite easily when exposed to heat or prolonged storage. So, the point which may be derived from these independent studies done and published in Journal of food science and Nutrition is that though the acai berries (especially the purple varieties..the white ones have no antioxidant properties) are rich in antioxidants which help to cleanse our system off the free radical damage, they are not as exceptionally good as the marketers would like us to believe.
The proponents of the acai berry supplements and products make claims that açaí berry provides improved energy levels, digestive functions, detoxification and also promotes reduction of weight, cholesterol levels and ageing marks. However, it was pointed out by an American based non profit organization, Quackwatch that the ‘açaí juice has only middling levels of antioxidants—less than that of Concord grape, blueberry, and black cherry juices, but more than cranberry, orange, and apple juices.”So what we may infer that yes, acai is rich in polyphenols, fiber and amino acids but so are all other berries and according to Quackwatch, perhaps a bit more potent than the acai berries.
Now let’s see the basis of this hullaboo about the miraculous powders of acai berry in reducing weight.
Acai berry and weight loss claims
In the light of lack of any specific and credible scientific evidence pointing out that the acai berries are indeed responsible for promoting weight loss, let’s take a close look at what other nutritionists across the globe has to say, before I may present my personal view on the subject.
The CSPI or Centre for Science in Public Interest warns in their press release, ‘There’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that acai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse colon, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions.”
‘Aggressive acai berry pitches on the Internet entice countless consumers into free trials promising weight loss, energy and detoxification. These claims are based on folklore, traditional remedies and outright fabrications unproved by real scientific evidence’, says attorney general, Mr. Blumenthal.
While the above comments may appear biased to those who manufacture, market and sell the acai supplements online and in stores, the fact remains that we are yet to see any scientific evidence which may highlight the weight loss inducing properties of acai berry.
My take on the issue,
I read through many acai promoting sites and even criticising reports across the internet and realized that yes, it would be best to avoid falling prey to these aggressive sales pitch and empty weight loss promises. Instead of paying dollars for the incredible and magical health benefits of acai berries, we should focus on a well balanced diet with a range of berries and fruits and vegetables put on the platter. Include berry juices in your diet for they are surely a powerhouse of vital nutrients, fiber and antioxidants but it would be wise to steer clear of this unrealistic claims about acai berry promoting weight loss better than any other berry.
We should not expect the acai berries to be a “miracle” berry or herb that we can gulp in and wake up the next morning twenty pounds lighter and also twenty years younger. However, the herbs like acai Berry , when taken alongwith a sensible diet and exercise plan may help you to reach your health goals faster. It isn’t going to do all the work for you, but it may make the work you do, perhaps a little easier and more productive. So, go ahead and enjoy acai berries for their sweet exotic taste and reasonable good health benefits, but don’t expect any miraculous results within days.