Acai Berries and Acai Berry Supplements have been incredibly popular and heavily promoted all over the internet and the media over the past few years. Even Oprah Winfrey has publicly supported this fruit, which was relatively unknown outside of South America until very recently.
These berries have been widely described as superfoods, and while they may possess a number of useful health benefits, the fact is that their many of their benefits, especially their weight loss powers, have been absurdly overstated in a large number of cases.
Before examining what Acai Berry Supplements really can and can’t do for your health and weight loss though, let’s take a closer look at these berries and the magical properties they’re supposed to possess.
About the Acai Berry
First of all, the Acai is actually a fruit and not a berry, but it has been marketed so heavily as a berry that it’s now widely recognized as such, so I’ll continue to refer to it as a berry, just to avoid any confusion.
Acai Berries are small, purple-colored fruit that grow on the acai palm tree. They’re actually quite similar in appearance to small, dark grapes.
They grow mostly in Central and South America, particularly in the Amazon forest of Brazil, in large clusters of about 500 to 900. Acai Berries have been an important part of the diet of the Amazonian native people for many years, both for everyday nutrition and for its supposed amazing healing powers.
So then, what exactly is inside Acai Berries and Acai Berry Supplements that make this such a so-called wonder-food?
The Acai Berry’s major claim to fame is its high concentration of antioxidants. These are nutrients in foods that can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to your body. When your cells use oxygen, they produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Antioxidants prevent and repair the damage done by these free radicals.
The table below shows the USDA-verified Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) values for a list of dried fruits and vegetables, to show you how Acai Berries rate. These values are on a per-gram basis and are adjusted for moisture content.
|Acai Freeze-Dried Powder||601|
|Wild Black Raspberry||340|
Another very beneficial ingredient of the Acai Berry is its dietary fiber. Each 100 grams of freeze-dried Acai Berry contains 44.2 grams in total – a high amount for any food.
The table below shows the dietary fiber content of some high-fiber foods as a comparison. These values are quoted per 100 grams of food.
|Acai Berry – Freeze-Dried||44.2g|
|Breakfast Cereal – Uncle Toby’s Bran Plus||39.5g|
|Chia Seeds – Dried||37.7g|
|Breakfast Cereal – Kellogg’s All Bran||29.3g|
|Bulgur – Dry||18.3g|
Essential Fatty Acids
Acai Berries contain a total of 32.5 grams of fat per 100 grams. Of this, 4.2 grams is Omega-6 essential fatty acid and 18.2 grams is Omega-9 fatty acid.
Finally, Acai Berries are also reasonably high in protein. They contain 8.2 grams of protein per 100 grams.
The TRUE Benefits of Acai Berry Supplements
Listed below are a collection of benefits that are commonly associated with Acai Berry Supplements, based upon the ingredients they contain:
- Promotes rapid weight loss
- Boosts energy levels
- Improves digestive function
- Increases alertness
- Promotes better sleeping
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Provides all vital vitamins
- Contains most important minerals
- Cleanses and detoxifies
- Strengthens the immune system
- Has anti-mutagenic compounds (prevent genetic mutation)
- Has anti-cancer properties
- Has anti-bacterial function
- Alleviates diabetes
- Improves circulation and strengthens the heart
- Prevents arterial plaque build-up
- Reduces and regulates cholesterol, increasing good blood fats
- Enhances sexual performance and libido
- Promotes glowing healthy skin
- Reduces inflammation
- Enhances vision
- Suppresses hunger
Wow, that’s quite a list, huh! It certainly does sound like it deserves the prestigious title of superfood.
Well, not so fast!
Unfortunately, the fact is that as of mid-2010, there have been no scientifically controlled studies done whatsoever that back up any of these claims, nor have any Acai Berry Supplements even been evaluated in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
There’s also no scientific evidence that eating Acai Berries or Acai Berry Supplements affects your body weight, or that it can promote weight loss.
But lack of scientific tests aside, let’s take an unbiased look at what’s supposed to make this fruit so special.
As far as antioxidants go, Acai Berries certainly are very impressive. As you can see from the table above, they contain almost twice as much as their nearest rival.
Antioxidants are believed to be beneficial in your diet for maintaining health and preventing diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Initial studies done on antioxidant supplements indicated that they might promote good health, but more recent, large clinical trials didn’t find any benefit at all. In fact they concluded that too much supplementation may actually be harmful.
This suggests that the health promotion and disease prevention benefits gained from eating fruits and vegetables come from other substances rather than the antioxidants themselves.
It also suggests that the antioxidative health benefits of Acai Berry Supplements are highly questionable. In any case, whether the antioxidants in Acai Berries provide health benefits or not, antioxidants have never been shown or believed to have any effect whatsoever on weight or weight loss.
The high dietary fiber content of the Acai Berry is probably it’s best asset when it comes to weight loss. As you can see from the table above, it contains more fiber than any other food – although not by a great margin.
Dietary fiber has been proven to provide a range of health benefits, as well as assisting weight loss by making you feel full and also helping to suppress the GI of your meals, all with little to no calories.
It’s important to note however, that Acai Berries contain two and a half and 1.7 times the amount of calories of the nearest high-fiber foods, wheat bran and Uncle Toby’s Bran Plus breakfast cereal, respectively. It’s also highly unlikely that Acai Berry Supplements will be able to provide this level of dietary fiber in pill form.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids are important to your diet, but the fact is that Western diets are already excessively high in these fats. The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids is believed to be about 4:1 or less, but Western diets typically have ratios of about 10:1, and even up to 30:1. In most cases therefore, we really don’t need any more Omega-6 in our diet.
Too much Omega-6 will actually interfere with the health benefits of Omega-3 fats, and chronic cases can actually put you at higher risk of many serious illnesses.
In any case, the Omega-6 content of Acai Berries is not altogether high. More than half the fat they contain is Omega-9. This is not classified as an Essential Fatty Acid however, since our body can produce it from unsaturated fat. This means that our diet doesn’t need to provide it.
The protein contained in Acai Berries is incomplete, which means that it needs to be mixed with complete proteins or other families of incomplete proteins to be useful to your body. So it’s not a good as say the protein you get from eating meat or fish. Nevertheless, it can still be beneficial to you.
It’s important to note however, that other foods exist that are far superior to Acai Berries in this regard. Oats, for example, contain 16.9 grams of incomplete protein per 100 grams (more than double that of Acai Berries), and have less than three quarters of the calories.
Acai Berry Supplements in a Nutshell
As you can see then from this rundown,
there certainly aren’t any magical or extraordinary ingredients contained in Acai Berry Supplements, despite all the hype surrounding them.
Based on the experience of Amazonian natives, they do appear to possess some health and healing properties. Whether or not these are due to their high antioxidant levels isn’t really known. Clinical tests suggest they aren’t.
As far as weight loss goes, they are very high in dietary fiber, which is great, but it’s not much higher than other alternatives and comes with considerably more calories.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that Acai berry Supplements have any weight loss properties at all.
The Essential Fatty Acid and protein provided by Acai berry Supplements is far inferior than what you can get in alternative foods.
So then, why all the hype?
Well, when you take a little-known, exotic berry that has surprisingly high levels of antioxidants and dietary fiber, it’s not hard to imagine what incredible potential marketing appeal you have on your hands. Simply highlight all the known or potential benefits of its major ingredients plus some more for extra effect (see the list of claimed benefits above), and you have an instant phenomenon.
That’s the bottom line.
So what about the claims of rapid weight loss? Where do they come from?
Nowhere, as far as anyone can tell. But that hasn’t stopped anyone before – remember, weight loss is big business!
If you think I’m being cynical, please read on . . .
The Acai Berry Supplements Weight Loss Scam
A spokesman for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre described the growing number of scams related to the sale of Acai Berry Supplements as “a major international problem”.
Numerous law suits have been raised against various manufacturers and marketers of Acai Berry Supplements over the past few years. For example:
- In August 2009, Oprah Winfrey sued fifty internet marketers of Acai Berry Supplements.
- Also in August 2009, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a suit against three local Acai Berry Supplement suppliers.
- In December 2009, Jennifer Eisenbarth, a former contestant on The Biggest Loser, sued an internet marketer for using her image in their advertisements of Acai Berry Supplements without any authorization.
- In March 2010, a large internet marketer of Acai Berry Supplements settled a claim against them by paying $200,000 in penalties and millions of dollars of refunds to consumers. They also promised to refrain from deceptive advertising.
- In August 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued a maker of Acai Berry Supplements. They cited false claims that the pills could cause weight loss or prevent cancer.
The majority of complaints raised against manufacturers and marketers of Acai Berry Supplements involve false claims, false testimonials, fake blogs with supposed users, and fraudulent billing issues.
Claims of weight loss range from the highly unlikely to the absurd. As an example, here’s a collection of claims taken directly from online and offline ads for Acai Berry Supplements in November 2010. (I’ve omitted product names because I don’t want to add to their promotion).
- You too can lose 1lb-5lbs per week with xxxxxxxxxx and achieve the body you have always wanted!
- Explosive New Fat Burn-Off System Is so Fool Proof it’s The Ultimate weapon against Fat
- By following the new Acai Berry xxxxxxxxxx program, you can lose up to 3 kilos of fat and fluid in the first 48 hours and up to 7 kilos during the first two weeks!
- Newly Developed Acai Berry Forces Your Body to Burn Away Fat As it Neutralizes All the Calories in the Food You Eat!
- Flush the Pounds and Lose the Weight
- 4 Weeks to Your Best Body Ever
These two examples are from websites. The location of the person was automatically generated to coincide with wherever the person viewing the page was located.
- Ella Regan from ____________ was reported to have lost 21 Kgs in 3 months while being on the xxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxx combo diet.
- I lost 31 lbs in 4 weeks with the Acai Berry xxxxxxxxxx
My Name is Paula White from ____________. I am so happy with this diet I found because I feel like my life has changed that I had to share it with you all.
Here are some examples of testimonials for Acai Berry Supplements. The first one is my favorite – I’m amazed that people can actually write such things.
- “One of the best things in our arsenal against obesity . . . any normal person will lose weight . . . even people with unhealthy diets, who don’t improve their eating habits.” – M.D. Top Obesity Specialist
- “I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I didn’t change my diet or my daily routine, but the fat melted off like it butter. I love this stuff! Finally a diet that just works.”
- “I Lost 8 kilos in 4 Weeks, No Special Diet, No Intense Exercise.”
- “No amount of exercise seem to make my unwanted weight go away – but Acai xxxxxxxxxx did. Thank you!”
The spread of the Acai Berry Supplements weight loss scam is a clear example of what lengths some people are willing to go to to make money at the expense of others.
It’s become so pervasive that the majority of websites promoting Acai Berry Supplements are now focused on warning you of this scam to win your confidence, before proceeding to scam you! Can you believe that?