Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it Really True?

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about acai berry supplements. I, personally, have not tried them. In fact, before last week, I didn’t even know acai berries existed. However, since I started this blog, I’ve been noticing a lot of advertisement on the web for this type of supplement. So far, I’ve read that apparently it stops cancer, improves digestion and, most importantly, helps people lose weight. It all sounds very interesting and somewhat too good to be true. Thus, I did a bit of research on these super berries.

Acai berries are just like any other type of berry (blueberries, strawberries, etc.). They even look like large shiny blueberries if you ever get the chance to see fresh acai berries. Then, what makes them so good for you? Well, just like any other berry, they are loaded with polyphenols which are a category of antioxidants. These polyphenols have been said to provide our bodies with various health benefits. For example, a diet high in antioxidants such as polyphenols is usually associated with low rates of several types of cancer. Thus, acai berries have been marketed as “superfoods” because of their polyphenol/antioxidant content. In fact, the type of polyphenol found in berries is what gives them their colour. I’ve posted some information on antioxidants, fruits and vegetables in the past. Click here to see that post.

Ok, so we know that acai berries contain antioxidants, but so do blueberries. Why then are acai berries so popular right now? I mean, I haven’t seen any ads for blueberry or blackberry supplements lately. To get the truth about acai berries, I had to do some serious digging. Fortunately, I came across an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry back in 2008. This article determined the antioxidant capacity of several products: pomegranate juice, red wine, grape juice, blueberry juice, black cherry juice, acai juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, apple juice, iced green tea, iced black tea and iced white tea. For this study, they used commercial brands in an attempt to make the study as realistic and helpful to consumers as possible. The antioxidant capacity of each of these products was then determined by using a series of tests. To make the results understandable, they gave each product a “grade” based on their individual antioxidant capacity. They called this “grade” the antioxidant potency composite index. This index is out of a hundred and is the average of 3 different brands of each product tested. Here’s the report card:

The index for pomegranate juice is quite shocking, don’t you think? Going back to acai berries, though. They are, indeed, rich in antioxidants. Nonetheless, keep in mind that it was acai juice that was used for this study. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a similar article on acai berry supplements rather than juice. When I looked for articles or studies done on acai berry supplements, I only came across multiple scam warnings including one published in the “Question of the Month” section of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Sept, 2009). This brief article is the answer to the question: What is the Acai Berry and are there health benefits? Basically, they do not say that the claims made about the acai berry are true neither does it say that they aren’t. It just says that there is still not enough conclusive information to determine whether or not acai berries are as beneficial as they say. They do, however, put a lot of emphasis on scams concerning acai berry supplements, so do be careful if you want to give these supplements a try. Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, well, it probably is.

By the way, speaking of "innovative" products, I put up a poll so see what other new items you'd also like to try. You'll find this poll at the top left hand corner of the page.

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