In the natural supplement world, it seems like there is often a “flavor of the month”—a product that gets lots of attention and seems to pop up in tons of articles and advertisements for its apparent health benefits. Right now, acai berry seems to have achieved this status. From commercials to billboards, ads to news stories, everyone seems to be talking about acai and how it may help our health.
That is, of course, if we can pronounce it. According to the webmd.com website, acai is pronounced “ah-sigh-ee.” It is a dark purple berry grown in the Amazon River basin in Brazil and it apparently tastes like a combination of chocolate and wild berries. Acai is rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant that may help ward off certain health conditions like cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and bacterial infections.
Acai has also been touted for its apparent ability to help us lose weight. If you Google “acai weight loss” you will get over two million hits with plenty of information about products that contain the berry and that claim to help us shed pounds. But look a little further and you’ll find just as many articles that state acai, although healthy in its own right as a food, does not contain any nutritional properties that lead to weight loss.
In fact, most of the acai weight loss products that you have probably seen advertised over and over again, ad nauseum, contain the berry as just one ingredient combined with other things. You’ll find acai detox products, acai calorie burning pills, and drinks made with the berry that are supposed to help us lose weight quickly. Some acai-related ads deliver promises that the products can help us lose over four times the weight loss than dieting and exercising alone, while others claim their acai-based products will help us lose absurdly high amounts of weight like 15 or more pounds a week.
A story about acai ran on CNN in the summer of 2009 and is available on its website. In the article, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit health group, spoke out against the berry and its supposed link to weight loss.
“There’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that acai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse [the] colon, enhance sexual desire, or any of the other commonly advertised functions,” the group said.
So the bottom line appears to be this: acai berries can be a tasty and healthy addition to our diet. I’ve had them in smoothies and they are delicious. Acai is definitely rich in antioxidants and it’s a healthy fruit. But it’s probably no more healthy than any other berry and according to the research, it does not contain any natural substances that help with weight loss.
Have you tried any acai berry weight loss products? If so, what did you think? Did they help you lose weight?