Can we even LIVE without the acai berry?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You know, you just can’t swing a cat around the internet these days without hitting an ad guaranteeing the loss of 30 pounds in 30 days via the miracle of the acai berry.

Besides the fact that I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce that, I also realized I have just been blah-blah-blah-ing myself past any articles or advertisements that mention it. Because rolling my eyes so hard is sometimes painful. So I decided the time had come to look it up.

First, I looked up the pronunciation. Ah-sigh-EE – okay, that feels very awkward. I think I’ll stick with my original mispronunciation of eye-KAY-uh…like IKEA, in a dyslexic sort of way.

The first thing you should know is you cannot trust any information you pick up via a Google search for “acai berry”. Every single link has THE ONLY PRODUCT guaranteed to work. They almost all throw around the names of Oprah, Rachael Ray, Dr. Oz, Gwyneth Paltrow and/or Summer Redstone – whoever the heck that is – as if they have given their personal endorsement. Oprah’s lawyers are reportedly not amused.

Also, for the record, I would never buy anything from a website that consistently uses “it’s” when it means “its” – for example, “known for it’s healing properties, scientists recently discovered it’s many benefits…” [Jelly Belly grammar tip – if you can’t replace the “it’s” with “it is”, then drop the dang apostrophe]. But that may just be me.

Grammar rant aside, I only wanted basic information, so I sifted through the crap (and lots of it) and found the following:

What it is: The acai berry is a tiny black fruit. It comes from South America, via a special Amazon palm tree that is harvested in the rainforests of Brazil. The berry has a very short post-harvest life which is why, unless you live in the rainforests of Brazil, you can only get it in the form of juice or pulp. Which is probably also the justification for its ungodly price.

The claims: Touted as having the highest antioxidant content of any food, together with a high (non-specified) fiber content, the acai berry is being hailed as a cure all – this tiny little berry is purported to provide increased energy, improved sexual performance, sleep, digestion, and skin appearance. It will also strengthen your immune system, fight cancer, improve circulation, slow down the aging process, improve heart health, reduce cholesterol levels and detoxify your system.

As if all that weren’t enough, some sites claim you can expect to reverse diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Men can look forward to an increase in penis size and virility and (duh!) become more sexually attractive to women.

But let’s not forget its most important benefit: Weight loss. Oh, yes – it will make you lose weight. All you have to do is send for your “free” trial offer of the supplement, cut out all sugar and fried foods, avoid processed foods, drink lots of water, exercise 3-5 times per week and watch the pounds melt off. It’s a miracle! (Click here for some info on what the “free trial” might cost you.)

Some research: According to Wikipedia (don’t judge me – it’s HARD to find non-commercial information on this stuff!), research showed the antioxidant content of the acai berry juice to be lower than concord grape juice, pomegranate juice, blueberry juice and red wine. It was about the same as black cherry or cranberry juice but higher than orange juice, apple juice and tea.

So what does it all mean? Ever since Dr. Oz handed Oprah an acai berry smoothie, proclaiming it one of the healthiest foods on the planet, the internet has gone crazy with people trying to cash in.

Does the acai berry have antioxidant properties? Yes, apparently it does. Does it have significantly more health benefits than, say, blueberries (always a top-rated antioxidant)? Doesn’t appear to. Will I pay $40 for a bottle of acai berry juice? Not a chance in hell. I’d go with a nice bottle of red wine first.

When you cut through all the marketing hype, it seems to me the acai berry is no more or no less of a “superfood” than any other berry. Especially blueberries, which I can pick up at a reasonable price in any grocery store. If I didn’t have a black thumb, I could probably even grow them in my backyard.

So, for me, I’m not anxious to hop on this bandwagon. What about you? Have you tried it? If so, what did you think?


Housewife Savant said...

There certainly is a lot of hype.
Months back I looked at raspberry and acai at the supermarket. Not for diet, just for juice. The stuff was murky, thick on the bottom, in layers of browns and reds. It was settled, yet unsettling.

When I see "Oprah's" ad for acai I shudder.
Thanks for getting through the muck and making things clear.

My Darling works with a woman who lived on acai for a long time after Oprah/Dr. Oz.
This woman is postworthy, but it couldn't be my post. This is secondhand funny:
She is Super Health Concious b/c her jobless live-in fiance tells her so. They're engaged b/c he told her to buy herself a ring.

She was addicted to vicodin, and lived in a bubble for months. All the while super healthy. Health conscious, right?
Every morning she puts handfuls of pills (vitamins/supplements) ON HER STOMACH and only takes what doesn't roll off.

She wore an ordinary magnet taped to her FACE while she suffered from a toothache. (They work in High End Retail.)

She told a bereaved co-worker that jobless fiance talked to the woman's dead husband.

Her newest "thing" involves a personal air pruifier worn around the neck.

It all began with acai. She cracked. Acai is evil. Or maybe it was the vicodin. Verdict's not in yet.

Sidenote: I thought it said "known for healing protitutes."

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Well, if that isn't a stunning testimonial to the powers of the acai, then I don't know what is! LOL!! Healing prostitutes? Why not? It probably does. :)

Robin Costello (Delswife) said...

I keep hearing about this berry all over the place too. If you cut out all sugar and fried foods, avoid processed foods, drink lots of water, exercise 3-5 times per week you're going to lose weight anyway.

I'll use my $40 for something else.

Oz Girl said...

1) I kept pronouncing it wrong too, until I researched it a few weeks ago. I still have trouble remembering the correct pronunciation.

2) Those who use "it's" when they should use "its" drive me bonkers, esp when it is sooooo easy to check yourself!

3) Thank you for clearing up all this ridiculous hype. Wouldn't most people have a serious brain check when they see how many benefits/illnesses this lil berry is purported to have or cure? If all that is really true, then we all should be eating ONLY acai berries,morning, noon and night, right?! I mean, c'mon!

Michelle said...

Thanks for the great info - I have heard all about the "miracle berry" but haven't tried it/bought into the hype/researched it. Now I know to just keep the $$$ and buy wine. Good idea!

Cyndi said...

I was sure I was the only one missing out on this wonder berry, which I was calling "ah-kai." I will join you and Michelle in a fine bottle of the juice of my own favorite berry, the fermented grape.

Jen Sue Wild said...

Nice right up with good information.
I have been wondering about this magical berry.
You have answered alot of qustions for me.

Ree said...

No me, but I bet the Diva has laid in a supply!

Debbie said...

I wish Dr. Oz would hand Oprah a copy of my blog and the world could go crazy for me. I'm a great weight loss product! Plus, I grow back hair and can cure impotence. I'm just awaiting discovery.

kristisummer said...

anytime Oprah promotes something whether it is a book, ezekial bread or acai berry people flock like sheep. I tried it b/c a friend of mine bought it...didn't like the taste one bit. I will get my antioxidants elsewhere like you. State store here we

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Friends started giving me acai during my cancer recovery. From the health food store, the frozen packs. My daughter makes a smoothy with berries, bananna soy milk, juice, and the frozen acai. Then we put granola on it. We only thought it was an antioxidant. Had never heard of the weight loss thing. I haven't lost weight - but I haven't been trying...

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Defintiely not into paying $40 for that. I can maybe find some random berries in the woods instead...

Stopping by from SITS :)

WhisperingWriter said...

I kept seeing ads for the Acai Berry too. In my head I pronounced it ahhhhh c eye.

I couldn't pay $40 for a bottle of the stuff. No thanks. If I want to lose a few pounds I just know I have to give up the chocolate. Which, let me tell you, is not easy. I wish I had more willpower.

Tiffany said...

I've never tried them and still can't pronounce the name. Thanks for telling how to pronounce it though. They don't look as good as blueberries. And $40 a bottle! Only if it's guaranteed to get rid of my migraines.

Nana said...

Well, I'm with Debbie on this one.

I must say though nothing attracts me more than a giant penis. ha ha.

The Machinist's Wife said...

I tried the Acai. I got three quarters of the way through the tub, and tired of the bland taste and gravel rash it left in my throat and bits in my teeth. Sure, I had more energy, but then again - I had cut out sugar, carbs, increased the protein, drank the water yadda yadda yadda. Who wouldn't feel better?

Oh, and on reflection, I pondered to myself "freeze dried"??

Maybe it does work - for the Amazons. Then again, I'd think they are healthy people anyway. No sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate...


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Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great article about acai. As superfood seems to be the latest trend in town it is important that we have a thorough understanding about what we consume. Even though everybody says acai is the best superfruit some might be skeptic about the acai side effects. There has been no evidence to date that Acai has any adverse side effects on the body. The fruit is naturally organic and is just like other natural fruits bananas, oranges, and apples. Acai is contains a large amount of vitamins and minerals.