Acai berries

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: December 1st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The advertisements are everywhere these days. No matter where you turn, someone seems to be touting the health benefits of acai [ah-sigh-EE] berries.

This wonder fruit is reputed to do everything from help you lose thirty pounds in thirty days, to reverse the aging process… even heighten sexual desire.

Not surprisingly, some research organizations are now weighing in… and they are disputing some of these claims. That’s not all… they are also warning consumers to think twice before handing over a credit card number to buy supplements made from the berries.

The acai berry is an inchlong reddish-purple fruit that comes from the acai palm tree. Like its relatives the cranberry and the blueberry, it is rich in antioxidants. The popularity of the berry soared after a doctor listed it as a healthy food on the Oprah Winfrey show last year, and it was mentioned by a guest on the Rachael Ray cooking show.

The berry is sold in several different forms, including pills, juice and powders. Despite the aggressive marketing pitches made by manufacturers, scientists say there’s just no evidence acai berries promote weight loss, smooth wrinkles or prolong life. In fact, the Connecticut Attorney General has launched an investigation into the business practices and questionable science associated with acai berry products.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid the berries. Nutritionists say they are a powerful source of antioxidants. And any diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help promote weight loss. Just don’t believe the hype. Are acai berries a good food? Yes. Miracle food? Probably not.