Used by Amazonian villagers as a traditional food the Acai Berry burst upon the World in 2004 in a blaze of publicity. As a Naturopath and Nutritionist I have a wide knowledge of plants and foods and that includes berries but I had never heard of this Acai Berry or the Acai Berry Detox and did not even know how to pronounce it at first!
What we did not know back then is that multilevel marketing companies had Acai Berry products and were energetically promoting them.
A similar marketing craze happened for Guarana too –marketed as "The Power of the Amazon"!
Well it worked and a kind of "Acai craze" or "Acai fever" swept across not just the health supplement world but right across the front pages of newspapers and magazines and onto TV.
Somehow the Acai berry got mixed up in weight loss formulas and in Detox methods!
So in spite of all that we still want to know if the Acai is a superfood or a marketing invention?
Let's push all the advertising to one side and look inside the berry shall we…..
Acai berries have
1 to 4% Protein
7 to 11% Fats
Turning now to the fat and oil content of the Acai we find…
oleic oil 56.1%
Palmitic oil 24.1%
linoleic oil 12.5%
And looking deeper in to the acai we find a whole slew of natural molecules that we get in other fruit such as anthocyanins, epicatechins, Ellagic acid and ferulic acid amongst others.
Sorry for the gobbledegook but plants have many complex and powerful molecules and they mostly have complex sounding names!
So far, so good. All these ingredients are good and tell us that we have a healthy fruit which may be a superfood as we look deeper and learn more about it.
Anthocyanins have antioxidant power although it must be said that those in Acai seem to be very fragile and may not survive food processing and getting them to market. This is a minus point for Acai.
Epicatichins we find in teas and Ellagic acid is one of the powerful agents in Raspberries and suggests a significant anti-cancer action. That's 2 plus points right there.
On the data I've seen, when Acai berries are tested for anti-oxidant power against other healthy fruit they average out.
They have little vitamin C but studies depend on using a standard source of Acai juice and some tests are on commercial products of unknown contents.
Conclusions and Questions
Frankly I don't know enough to say how good Acai is for detox or weight loss on the data I have seen so far but I would happily use it and consume it like any other berry.
Is Acai good for you?
Yes I have no doubt of that – look at the protein, the oils and the natural molecules.
Is it a superfood?
Um, not sure right now. Compared to Raspberries, Olives, Grapes?
Will it help me Detox?
Only as part of a professionally designed Detox Programme! There is nothing special about acai itself that makes it effective at detox. So the publicity on acai berry detox is probably overblown
Will it help me lose Weight?
I see no reason to advise it as part of weight loss Programme but my specialty is Detox and Weight loss is something else entirely and depends on you having balanced hormones, following a healthy diet and doing some exercise too.
I need to dig deeper into the data and get clearer on how good this berry really is – one thing for sure there are many weight loss products that mix acai and various appetite suppressants together and make great claims.
Acai by itself is arguably a superfood that is, it is very nutritious but by itself does not do much to enable Detox or weight loss.
I know we all want to be able to lose weight and really we don't want to change our diet much or exercise. We'd like to imagine that a cool exotic product from a remote region of the earth can burst upon us and miraculously make us lose weight or toxins.
But wake up – because all that is a dream. You can make a difference to your health and energy by using proper detox techniques and that will take some effort and grit.
You will need to eat better and acai berries might be part of a better diet. But a magic pill – whether it is called a weight loss pill or an acai berry detox is not going to make much difference to you.
A lot of advertising people and pill companies have made a lot of money on the backs of the publicity they created and a lot of customers have been scammed.
Read more here at Netmoms
So if you see some Acai berries at the supermarket alongside the raspberries and grapes then try some but I would not sign up to an online free trial offer with an unknown company.
If you are determined to try Acai as part of weight loss or Detox then take the precaution of buying from a trustworthy company such as Amazon and do not order more than 1 bottle whatever incentives you see.
And please if you have any experience with Acai please chime in in the comment section below and let your friends know about this post-it could save them some grief!
Photo credit eliduke