Does it Really? The Truth about Açaí

2SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/18/2008 3:15 PM   :  120 comments

We've all seen the ads.

Rachael Ray lost weight with açaí berries!

Lose 20 pounds in 2 days with açaí!

Açaí flush is the secret to weight loss.


Is it true? Does açaí, a berry native to Central and South America, hold the key to weight loss?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sounds more like a fad diet than a miracle.

What is açaí?

Açaí is a small, round berry that is about 1 inch in diameter. It resembles a grape, with one large seed, but it contains less pulp. The berry is green at first, turning a blackish-purple color when ripe.

The pulp of the berry--which tastes like a cross between raspberries and chocolate, with a slightly gritty, meaty texture--is mashed and eaten like a pudding in South America. (I liked it when I tried it, but it's an acquired taste.) The açaí berry has a relatively high fat content (it contains Omega-3's), so it spoils quickly. In North America, it's only available in freeze-dried or frozen form.

It can be found in the freezer section of many larger grocery stores and healthy food stores.

Why the hype?

In 3.5 ounces (almost 1/2 cup) of açaí:
  • 80 calories
  • 6 g fat
  • 7 g carbs
  • 1 g fiber
  • 0 g sugar
  • 2 g protein

Açaí--like all fruits and vegetables--contains antioxidants, which are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Age-related problems such as vision loss, heart disease, and cancer are linked to free radicals, and eating foods containing antioxidants may slow the progression of these age-related diseases. Antioxidants are found in all fruits and vegetables in various levels.

Açaí is touted for its high level of antioxidants, which some say is the highest of any fruit or vegetable. The exact antioxidant number or rating for a food isn't important. No government or regulatory body tracks or tests antioxidants, and in researching antioxidant levels, it was virtually impossible to find neutral, third-party research.

Açaí producers flaunt the health benefits of the berry, but even among manufacturers, the numbers vary.
According to Oprah.com (two of her favorite health experts discussed the berries on the show, jump-starting the interest): Açaí has 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10 to 30 more times than the flavonoids of red wine. Her experts say it's healthy but it's not a cure-all. There have been a few scientific studies regarding the anti-inflammatory properties of açaí, but the results are inconclusive.

The celebrities and "experts" whose names are on the ads for açaí do not endorse the supplements.

So is açaí healthy? It's a fruit, so yes. Is it going to melt away your excess weight? No. If you like the taste, put some in a smoothie, try some açaí sorbet or mix it up like pudding (see photo above), Brazilian style. If you don't like it, eat other fruits instead.

An ABC News reporter and her husband tried an açaí "cleanse" and pill regimen and ended up paying for much more. Read her interesting account here.

Did you know?
Ever eat hearts of palm? Açaí comes from a type of palm tree, the tender centers of which are eaten.

Have you ever tried açaí berries? What did you think?


Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   Poll: Do You Like Your Info Sugar-Coated or Plain?

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 120
    Thank you for unbiased article. - 6/16/2012   9:49:10 AM
  • 119
    I have tried acai in other products, and I really do not care for the flavor. I have not ever tried just the fruit, and I probably wont. If it is not delicious and affordable, then I'm not going to invest in it. - 6/11/2012   8:41:02 PM
  • 118
    No I have not tried acai berries nor do I expect to. This was a good article--factual and unbiased. I also liked the one on which berry has more antioxidants. - 6/2/2012   5:29:35 PM
  • 117
    My husband is obsessed with the Gracie diet {well, the whole Gracie family in general} and they tout this as a "miracle" drug, too.

    It's good, and we do eat it, but I think the media's taken this to extremes... - 1/5/2012   11:31:23 AM
  • 116
    Thanks for confirming my suspicions! I'll spend my money on actual fruit (blueberries, blackberries) instead of something that seems like "medicine!" - 1/8/2011   9:36:01 AM
  • NIHYAMA
    115
    I LOVE acai. I usually do have it in smoothie, as the straight fruit can be a bit tart. Combined with other healthy ingredients, it is smooth and berry-licious and seems to satisfy cravings. Incidently, I believe it is Stash teas that makes a delicious acai berry tea. Whenever I drink it on a steady basis--I lose weight more easily. When I stop taking it--I stop losing weight and in fact gain. Hmm...I guess I should start drinking it again! - 10/14/2010   11:44:28 AM
  • 114
    I like it, but there are many other fruit and berries that I like much more and since they are a lot less expensive, I'll just stick to those. Thank's for confirming my belief that I'm not doing a disservice to my health or weight loss efforts by not eating it. - 8/4/2010   6:29:12 PM
  • LIVINGONMYTERMS
    113
    I have never seen it at the grocery store and usually wind up getting it at Keva Juice when I want a smoothie (Brazillion Blast). Some healthfood stores sell smoothie protein with Acai but it is really expensive. I have taken the Acai cleanse product that you buy at Wal-mart and it does work. But other than that I cannot find it anywhere. - 5/21/2010   4:04:28 PM
  • 112
    I have never tried it but will definitely add it to my fruit list to try! as always most of those fad diets are always ridiculous! - 3/17/2010   1:33:19 PM
  • 111
    I ate acai in Brasil and liked it a LOT. Frozen like a sherbet with tiny, sweet bananas and some granola sprinkeled on top- ULTRAYUMMY! But I never thought about the health benefits. Most foods are good for something, I mean most unprocessed foods.
    You do not eat Tomato salad with mozarella because it prevents cancer and boosts your calcium, do you? You eat it because it is simply delicious! - 3/17/2010   12:26:02 PM
  • 110
    Thank you so much for posting something that isn't skewed towards trying to sell products, like everything else you find on the Internet about acai berries! I appreciate the confirmation that it's just another fad, and eating more fruits and vegetables in general is best. - 2/12/2010   11:30:18 AM
  • SHERYLL_S
    109
    I don't like and won't buy the Acai anything. - 10/13/2009   10:27:38 AM
  • 108
    I've tried the bottled juice... it's not bad, but not really a "have to have" thing for me. - 10/6/2009   1:19:03 PM
  • 107
    If you try acai, try it because you want to try a new healthy food. I started drinking it for the antioxidants as well as the supposed health benefits. However, I found out that I liked the taste. If I didn't like the taste, I wouldn't touch it again (see goji berries).
    Enjoy the healthy foods that you like and try out a new healthy food every once in a while. If you like the new food great. If not, you know to avoid it. - 10/5/2009   2:14:53 PM
  • LORIANE2
    106
    i have had it in various drinks. seems very sweet (i dilute my 100% juices down to 1/3 or 1/4 and just fill up the glass with water), i try to keep everything in perspective and stick to the old adage....everything in moderation.. - 9/14/2009   10:53:02 PM
  • 105
    I wouldn't worry about the way Acai is harvested- Brazil is so poor, they'll find a way to sell anything to anyone. It won't be North America who is at fault for it- it will be Brazil.
    I tried Acai in Brazil, freshly made into the typical thick drink. I found it disgusting and never had it again. In Brazil fruit, especially fresh juice, is very very popular and considered healthy. I guess it's healthier than the typical american drink- soda.
    A Brazilian drink that I do love is Guarana, which is a soft drink made from a plant of the Amazon. You can buy it in grocery stores, at least you can in Houston, and it's very high in caffiene. I won't call it healthy, but it's tasty and I prefer it to the more chemical-y taste of Coke. - 8/28/2009   2:23:10 PM
  • WILDMAMA
    104
    My question is: How is Acai harvested? I am imagining yet another excuse for spoiled North America to rape the delicate resources of the rainforest. But am I wrong? Is it sustainably grown and harvested? Anyone know? - 8/28/2009   1:49:24 PM
  • MEOWSER2
    103
    A frend bought me a bottle of MonaVie one year ago. I tried it a few times. My mom said it looked like ^*#%. I had to hold my nose to get it down. That same friend who swears by it has put all of her weight back on. OMG. Just eat grapes, meow! - 8/13/2009   8:23:57 PM
  • XOCAIGAL
    102
    Acai is the number 1 fruit with the highest amount of antioxidants with dark chocolate being number 2. Which means both are excellent source of antioxidants which all of us need to help fight disease. Well you should still eat fruits and vegetables you get your full share of antioxidants with either of these products. But you need to be careful with some dark chocolate because they add wax, fat and other things that are not good for you. And the Acai berry is very tart tasting. I take a product called Xocai which is an unprocessed, cold press chocolate and it also contains the Acai berry and blueberry. it is very good and I highly recommend it to everyone. I have lost 60 lbs with this chocolate and eating healthy and exercise. But Xocai she has helped me along! - 8/4/2009   10:35:42 AM
  • 101
    I tried the pills and the colon cleanser that was to be taken with them and neither did a thing for me. If anything I gained weight taking them. Fad diets and pills just aren't for everyone and I feel just the plain old fashion eat right and exercise is the only lifestyle that really works. - 8/2/2009   7:13:01 PM
  • JOANNA681
    100
    I take a number of vitamins. I started taking these a couple of weeks ago, but I buy from a reputable vitamin store. Mine were not too expensive and I have been feeling more energetic. Mine are straight Acai berry though with nothing else. I also drink the juice when I treat myself to one from a juice bar. It tastes great! - 8/1/2009   10:42:14 AM
  • 99
    Because I live in France and have a French computer id I get these ads popping up in French - there are about 5 of them - all the stories are identical, just the names change (Marielle from Bergerac, Claudine from Lyon). Then I log onto English and American sites and there they are again, just with different names and addresses. They also come with something called Colon Cleanse which is probably just a laxative. Even Alli can make you ill or uncomfortable so I will stick to slogging it out with the calories and exercise. - 7/29/2009   8:08:50 AM
  • COLORSCHEMER
    98
    A coworker of mine tried some Açaí diet pills and they made her jittery. That's because, like pretty much all diet pills, the active ingredient isn't whatever "healthy" miracle food that they picture on the label of the bottle but good ol' fashioned amphetamines.

    If that's the sort of thing that you want to put your body through to lose a couple of pounds, just pick up some crack cocaine. It is much more potent. On second though, don't because that's a freaking stupid idea, just like popping amphetamine containing diet pills.

    I do like açaí berries though and occasionally pick up a couple of the bottled smoothies at my local grocery store - when I don't mine parting with the cash and calories that I give up to sip on the delicious drink. - 7/27/2009   5:00:38 PM
  • 97
    Glad that I read this article. I had an e-mail the other day,and the person said, that they had a team on Spark People. I clicked to see if the team was on here(Spark) ,and no, I never found it. I also deleted the e-mail, and figured it was a bad idea. When first ,reading about it, I thought I wonder if this would help. Again, I've been saved from making a terrible, costly mistake. There really is only one way to get healthier, and that is watch what ,and how much we eat, and exercise. No easy, quick way to get rid of excess weight. It takes time, and working at it. Thanks for the article. It's very helpful. - 7/26/2009   10:37:42 PM
  • 96
    I also did the "free with shipping charges only" thing and fortunately caught their scam BEFORE being charged the FULL outrageous price for a bottle! The sad thing is, most attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful due to phone numbers, e-mail addresses and websites being non-functional. Luckily I found a site that listed several phone numbers to try and was able to get through to one. Buyer beware, if it sounds too good to be true, IT IS!!! - 7/24/2009   1:35:33 PM
  • 95
    I have never tried acai, but I did want to. I wanted to try more natural things and lifestyle changes first. Now, I will not try at all!!! - 7/22/2009   3:22:04 PM
  • 94
    The berries are Ok as far is taste is concerned. I usually buy the pulp and add it into smoothies. If the berries weren't so good for you, I would probably not eat them. I like the taste of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries better. To get the antioxidant benefit from these berris , I was taking supplements in capsule form by the brand Sambazan. - 7/22/2009   11:18:43 AM
  • 93
    People are constantly looking for "miracles" and this is why this type of marketing hype works every time. It's a sad thing. There is no such thing of a miracle food. Some foods are better than others. But that doesn't mean you have to pay high price for exotic foods that come from South America or Africa just to obtain health benefits. There are plenty of foods especially fruits and vegetables already available in our market that will do just the same. When will people learn? - 4/19/2009   3:03:56 PM
  • WINEDINETRAVEL
    92
    Yes, I've tasted it and I think it's quite good. The juice is pretty expensive, though. I'd consider drinking it on a regular basis if it was more affordable. - 4/16/2009   1:50:23 PM
  • RAMONAFAY
    91
    I bought the pills from Swansons.com--I think I paid $4.95. I like them all right. I have been eating healthy and exercising, so I can't say they helped lose weight. But I feel better! - 4/16/2009   6:46:42 AM
  • BSECOY
    90
    Thanks for the information; I have been researching this in attempts to find a more thorough account of pros and cons. - 4/15/2009   2:03:39 PM
  • 89
    sounded to good to be true... - 4/13/2009   8:47:47 PM
  • RILEYJOSMOM
    88
    I ordered a bottle of the acai berry - the only charge was to be a $3.95 shipping charge! Wrong! They charged me the whole $83.00. They claimed they sent me a confirmation email, but upon checking, it went directly to my spam account. So I was never notified. They agreed that my "confirmation" email was not opened but refused to give a refund for the $83.00 bottle of acai berry. Watch out! - 3/23/2009   8:46:54 AM
  • 87
    Thanks for the info. But I have never even heard of it before. - 3/2/2009   7:20:15 AM
  • NETADARLING
    86
    I found out about Mona Vie, a blend of 19 berries including the acai thru my sister in law in California. She was so excited about it because it had helped pain that nothing else did. Yes she has lost 45 lbs. in the last year and she said the mona-Vie helped with that but mostly it was eating very carefully and getting more exercise. My brother also was on it and his energy and mental clarity had improved remarkedly (he has cancer and hardly had stamina to go out to eat when they were visiting here last year, now he does some yard work) I could hardly wait to get a bottle and try it! When I did I saw results within a week or ten days. I began to feel better all over, needed less pain medication and gradually have had to cut my blood pressure meds in half and also the pills I take for diabetes type 2...I have never been on insulin. I took a bottle to my doctor for him to check it out and he has been working with me in adjusting my meds. I also sleep better. No, it's not a miracle bullet, but since I have been taking it, I have felt happier with a better outlook on life. It is expensive and for a while I just used it once a day but I became a distributor in order to be able to afford it like they reccomend. I can't explain the way it works, but I know what it is doing for me after just four months. - 2/27/2009   2:09:21 AM
  • 85
    I ate/drank acai before all the hype. I do so because I love the taste. Nothing more. Works great for blending with bananas or other fruit. Or crushed over frozen yogurt. :) Never believed the ads and never really noticed any substantial weight loss. - 2/26/2009   10:01:11 PM
  • MSMITYMAE
    84
    Im not sure that I would try the acail berry but I do know that the price is the scam. They offer it at this really cheap (intro) Price and then charge you up.
    I myself personally have found out that if you portion your food and learn what your body craves for along with some type of exercise, wven if it is just walking 30mins a day you can loose weight and keep it off. You have to condition and discipline yourself, and also treat yourself to that occasional sweet treet of slice of pizza and still be ok. - 2/26/2009   9:31:36 PM
  • 83
    I bought the acai, the scam one at first and immediately returned it when I found out they were planning to charge 87.00 a bottle. I did go to neutraceutical sciences institutes and buy the acai berry extract for 10.99 a bottle. I figure for the anti-oxident claims ( it claims to have 45 percent more than green tea) I would give it a go for a while, and if it help with weight loss in any way ...great...if not , I don't think it's harmful . I plan to try it for three months and detox my system for a while, I felt this should be part of it. I don't think there is anything wrong with making the effort to be good to yourself and to take a positive step towards taking care of yourself. Eating right and drinking lots of water and excercise are all part of that. I decided to take it since i have been on a lot of different medications for chrohns disease forever, and felt like my system needs a different type of assistance for a while...so for me I hope it works for the inflamation and antioxidant claims...I will let you know - 2/10/2009   11:12:45 PM
  • 82
    Okay, I bought some from an ad that I saw here on SparkPeople. I was charged an introductory offer of $5.03, not too bad right?

    Well, after taking them for two weeks, I can tell you, that I weigh more than when I first started, and I am constipated. Sorry, for the TMI.
    I have been sleeping better at night, but I don't know if that is because of these pills or not. The BIG problem is, they now want to send me a bottle every 30 days and the charge is $83.00!!!!!! plus shipping and handling.

    If you have ordered these, get out now while you can!!! - 1/8/2009   2:34:11 PM
  • 81
    I think this is a very interesting article. My younger daughter wanted to try an acai diet, so I had her read it, too. She's not so mad I suggested she not try it. Any fruit can help you lose weight. Why spend so much for this one? - 12/29/2008   11:47:55 AM
  • PRAISEGODIMFIT
    80
    Interesting article. I believe the reason most people see a difference is because they have added something healthy to their diet. As a result, they eat less bad foods. Feeling good and thinking that something is making you lose weight will motivate you to look for weight loss--as a result you do. It is mind over matter.

    I will try acai for the health benefits. I am all about anything that is healthy. - 12/24/2008   10:50:24 AM
  • BRAZILBARB
    79
    I live in São Paulo, Brazil. My husband and three kids absolutely LOVE açaí. We go out for açaí rather than ice cream when we want a frozen treat. I have avoided it despite knowing of its nutritional value (and loving the taste and texture), because I was under the impression that it was very high calorie. If its really only 80 calories a half a cup, next time we´re out I´ll be the one to recommend we stop for açaí on the way home. - 12/23/2008   7:55:13 AM
  • 78
    why acai berry works.....acai berry is a good source for antioxidants...antioxidants remove the free radicals in your body ....free radicals are formed when you are exposured to enviromental pollution, inside and outside your body...free radicals cause inflammation and cell damage
    research show there are four endogenous antioxidants found in your body: glutathione, superoxide dismutase, oxalase, and coenzyme Q10.
    of these four antioxidants when used by the body, glutathione is the most important and only glutathione does not leave free radical residue in the cell, in fact it helps induce delta wave sleep.
    the best source for glutathione is Max Gxl formulated by Dr. Robert Keller MD. He has the science...he can verify and quantify what it's doing in our body.
    his research show an 292% increase in glutathione blood level after taking this supplement for 60 days...hope this helps - 12/22/2008   12:20:58 PM
  • 77
    If there was really something that melted fat away so easily there would not be so many of us at SparkPeople trying to lose weight and get healthier. In the past, I admit I have tried pills and some did seem to curb my appetite. Although I know now, it was more the water I drank with the pills than the pills themselves. There is no 'diet' or 'diet pill' that works. What works is changing your lifestyle, be conscious of what you eat and getting of your duff and getting exercise. The only pills I take are my vitamins. I know the fat isn't going to fall off. My having to work so hard to get it off is definitely going to help me keep it off. I have changed my lifestyle and I love it. But, this does sound like a berry I would like to try just to have something else good and healthy to eat. A cross between a raspberry and chocolate sounds like a good flavor to me. - 12/22/2008   11:40:52 AM
  • 76
    I have been taking supplements my husband bought for me not knowing that it just so happens to include Açai in it. I have noticed a difference in my overall health since taking the supplements routinely. - 12/22/2008   10:09:42 AM
  • 75
    I tried acai juice. It tasted like overripe fruit and I was really turned off. Also it was about $4 for an 8 oz bottle. I'll stick fresh blueberries for my antioxidant boost. - 12/22/2008   8:38:50 AM
  • SNOEBUD
    74
    I am a big sucker when I see anything that says weight loss I have spent alot of money on the capsules actually 3 different strengths What a waste I need to get off my duff and walk - 12/22/2008   7:34:13 AM
  • 73
    To much hype and not enough research..no thanks
    - 12/21/2008   8:55:27 PM
  • MYGEORGE
    72
    I have been drinking Mona Vie for about a year. I stopped for a while but started again because of the benefits it has. I'm not involved in any pyramid or scam out there. My order comes once a month to my door. Yes it is spendy $40 a bottle but I also eat alot of fresh fruits and veggies and take into account the amount I throw away due to spoiling or bad selection on my part. The juice has what I feel I need to have on a daily basis plus the antioxidants that I feel are necessary. - 12/21/2008   8:38:39 AM
  • 71
    I have never heard of Acai for weight loss, but rather for retaining youth thru the antioxidant values it has. - 12/21/2008   1:06:06 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

x Lose 10 Pounds by October 10! Get a FREE Personalized Plan