Acai berries come from a palm tree that grows in South America and they are reportedly extremely beneficial when taken as a dietary supplement. Natives of the Amazon region in Brazil where the fruit is abundant have used it as a staple in their diet for many years. It is an economically viable product that was readily available and perhaps that is the main reason that it was so often included in the diet. In recent years, the berry has been touted as being beneficial for (and this is just a short list): weight loss, to increase energy, to serve as an anti-oxidant, to improve mood and sex drive, improve cholesterol and skin conditions. Perhaps it is the mystique of a far way fruit from an exotic land that has driven interest and allowed the product to gain popularity, but little research has been done to back any of the claims. The product seems to have received a golden ticket when it’s benefits were discussed on the Oprah Winfrey show. While this television format is often informative, it does not replace hard scientific evidence backed by research and a neutral party investigation.
New Research Provides New Hope
Some of the research that has been done on the Acai berry does show that is has valuable anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants help combat free radicals in the body which do not allow for tissue recovery. The anti-oxidants help combat negative affects of aging, training, and pollutants. The berry has been shown to be lower in anti-oxidants than a lot of traditional fruits containing the same properties, but they exist regardless. If the body cannot absorb the nutrients in the berry, will it be of any benefit to consume the product?
It is most often sold as juice, pulp, or even powder extract all of which are ingested but how many actually absorbed? As recent as October 2008, researchers from Texas A&M University 1 examined the body’s ability to absorb and use the product. They had previously done research and were able to conclude that the berry did indeed have anti-oxidant properties with promising outcomes at fighting some forms of cancer. During this experiment, they wanted to see if the body would absorb the antioxidants from the berry, from applesauce, and checked these reactions against a control group. “Blood and urine samples at 12 and 24 hours after consumption showed significant increases in antioxidant activity in the blood after both the acai pulp and applesauce consumption,” said the head researcher. The take home message seems to be that the Amazonian fruit does have antioxidants and that the body can absorb them. This study provides new hope, but it was a small scale study and by no means does it give the berry the green light of being the wonder fruit that has made it gain such high levels of popularity. We should remember that no one fruit, food, or supplement is going to cure every disease or ailment. Care should be taken when making purchases that claim to be the silver bullet for a long list of concerns. This seems a good time to remind the buyer to beware, even if they can have optimism about this product.