Meet the Acai Berry. This grape like fruit from the Brazilian Acai Palm trees is being regularly touted as a “super fruit.” The acai berry (pronounced “ah-sigh-ee”) is a red-purple fruit that can be eaten raw, taken in a tablet form, enjoyed in food products (like ice cream or jelly), or consumed in a drink form as an energy drink, smoothie, or juice product. Farmers in Brazil have been growing and using the acai berry for many years, and the fruit has been found to have many health benefits from their use. Now, the berry is being promoted in the United States as a health product, with many possible benefits.
But, as with any possibly great product, there are those who pose the question: is acai berry good or bad for you? Are there really health benefits to gain from using the berry regularly, or are there side effects that might make its use problematic? To figure out the truth to these questions, one has to examine the claims on both the good and bad side of the acai berry debate.
The Good Claims
First, take a look at the statements made about the benefits of the acai berry. Proponents of the berry include such figures as Oprah and Dr. Oz. Many articles and claims can be easily found about the benefits of using the acai berry for health and weight loss. To this effect, it is important to note that there are many wonderful health claims made about the acai berry, for example:
- It contains antioxidants
- It aids in weight loss
- It helps with improving digestion
- It helps to cleanse and detoxify the body
- It helps to boost immunity
- It supports cardiovascular health
- It enhances vision
- It slows down the aging process
- It increases mental health and clarity
- It helps reduce insomnia
- It has no side effects
The Bad Claims
Of course, there are also those who make claims on the opposite side of the spectrum. Many naysayers claim that the acai berry is merely a fad diet, and has no lasting healthy effects. The bad side of the argument about the acai berry includes claims to this effect, for example:
- The supplements are expensive
- It does not work
- It is a scam
- The claims are unproven
In all fairness, both the good and bad claims about the acai berry have some truth to them. When you find the balance between the two extremes, this truth is revealed.
On the good side, the acai berry is full of antioxidants. This claim has been substantiated and does carry some legitimate health benefits. Specifically, the acai berry contains anthocyanins and flavonoids which help combat free radicals in the body. This, in turn, has been proven to aid in fighting disease and the signs of aging. Additionally, antioxidants have been proven to help reduce health risks like cancer and cardiovascular issues.
The claims about weight loss are true in part. Like other antioxidant rich fruits and food, the acai berry, in conjunction with other colon cleansing or weight loss products along with a low-calorie diet, can aid in weight loss. Active individuals who are using the acai berry in addition to their balanced diet and exercise will enjoy the added benefit of reduced free radicals after workouts. The acai berry has been reported to aid in increasing energy levels and reducing appetite which aid in weight loss.
Because the acai berry is simply a fruit, there are no known side effects. The acai berry is not a chemical or a blend of different drugs like other “weight loss” products. The only possible effect would be an allergy to the fruit itself. As a fruit, the acai berry is a good source of vitamins, minerals, calcium, and iron.
On the bad side, however, the claims are less true, though with some valid considerations.
As with any product, there are companies who seek to take advantage of consumers seeking a quality product. There are expensive versions of the acai berry products, but many good products can be found for a reasonable price. The scams are not the only products available. High quality health food stores and web sites you trust will also carry acai berry products that can be incorporated into your diet.
The claim that the acai berry does not work is true if the user is expecting a quick fix weight loss product. Like any other fruit, the acai berry is not going to give you immediate, drastic weight loss. Weight loss takes time, a lot of effort, and careful diet control. The acai berry can aid in this process, but will not cause weight loss on its own. With this in mind, dieters need to be careful of the “quick fix” mentality that will keep them from making essential changes to their diet along with adding acai berry products. The claims against weight loss with the acai berry are valid in that there are no official, scientific studies that have proven significant weight loss with the berry. There is also the possible concern, not yet proven either way, that the weight loss while using acai berry products is only water loss, rather than fat loss.
A couple of other smaller concerns should also be addressed. As with eating any fruit, moderation is key. Overdosing on acai berry products can lead to an excess of vitamins in your system with possible effects like indigestion or loose bowel movements and an acidic taste in your mouth. Take care to not overdo your consumption. Also be sure to carefully understand which products you are purchasing. Some supplements are blended with less pure products or filler products.
Additionally, if one is allergic to palm, special care should be taken to watch your reaction to acai berry products. Since the berry is from a palm tree, there is a possibility of aggravated allergies with its use.
The Final Word
The acai berry is an antioxidant rich fruit, and thus does have benefits for one’s health. These benefits are not particularly special, however, and can be found in other similar fruits (cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries for example).
The research on acai berry products is limited, though ongoing. The few completed studies show no bad side effects and help to substantiate the good claims for the berry.
Overall, someone looking for the benefits claimed by the acai berry should remember to eat a range of foods that are good for you for weight loss. The acai berry itself will not cause weight loss on its own, but it can help as a part of a well-balanced, low-calorie diet.
An additional consideration is where you choose to purchase your acai berry products. You need to be sure to find a good source for raw berries and other products in order to insure the quality and benefits of real acai berry fruit.
When considering adding the berry to your diet, keep in mind that the acai berry is good for you, in the same way any other fruit or antioxidant rich food is. There are no scientifically proven benefits other than this, but there are also no bad effects to consuming the berry.