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    Acai Berries: Super Food Or Hype?
    By Ashley Cox | October 8th 2008 10:09 AM | 14 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Chances are that if you've even stepped near a health foods store in the past few months, you've heard tales of an amazing imported fruit claimed to be one of the greatest super-foods of our time; the Brazilian Acai/Açaí (ah-sigh-ee) berry. Rich in antioxidants and packed full of health benefits, the tiny berry sparked an obsession in the health food world, even without significant laboratory testing.

    acai berry
    Brazilian Acai berries. Photo Credit: Black Diamond University

     The Acai is the size of a blueberry but contains twice the antioxidants of its cousin and 10 times more than red grapes - 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins of red wine.

    According to Amherst College's Acai Report 2005, Acai berries contain (but are not limited to): Antioxidants, Omega fats 3,6, and 9, Amino Acids, Proteins, Xanthones, Anthocyanins, Dietary fiber, Essential minerals - iron, potassium, phosphorus calcium, and phyonutrients.

    The claimed benefits are:
    -Increased Energy
    -Resistance to colds/flu
    -Healthy and more youthful skin
    -improved eye sight
    -improved circulation
    -prevention of degenerate diseases
    -slowing of the aging process
    -promotion of weight loss

    "A lot of claims are being made, but most of them haven’t been tested scientifically," Said Dr. Susanne Talcott, a researcher at Texas A&M University’'s nutrition and food science department. With husband Stephen Talcott, a University of Florida professor, she has been documenting the health effects of the acai berry. "We are just beginning to understand the complexity of the acai berry and its health-promoting effects."

    The team began studying the palm berry in 2001, published a report in 2004, and are still influential in the research of acai berries.

    The team evaluated the berry with regard to its antioxidant and nutritional values in both pulp and juice form. They concluded that the berry did indeed contain vast amounts of antioxidants but, as Dr. Susanne Talcott explains, "no one had really tested to see if acai antioxidants are absorbed in humans."

    With that, the researchers then decided to find out whether the beneficial elements of the berry were actually being absorbed into the human body or if they were being eliminated from the body as waste.

    Dr. Susanne Talcott
    Dr. Susanne Talcott. Photo Credit: Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips.

    Susanne Talcott conducted the first test on humans concerning the body's ability to absorb the acai's pulp and juice. The study consisted of 12 volunteers who were asked to consume a single serving of either the acai juice or its pulp. Urine samples of the testers were studied, and showed significant increases in antioxidant activity in the blood.

    Voila! Susanne Talcott proved that the super antioxidants from the berry are absorbed and contribute to the health of a human body. Later studies showed another interesting effect of the berries: they show activity against cancer cell development.

    Professor Stephen Talcott found that the antioxidant rich acai berry destroyed cultured human cancer cells. His findings, published in the 2006 Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, showed up to 86 percent of leukemia cells tested responded to the berry with self-destruction.

    The study extracted six chemicals made from the acai fruit and pulp and made them into concentrations to be tested. When the samples were applied to leukemia cells for 24 hours, between 35 percent and 86 percent of the cells had died.

    "This was only a cell-culture model and we don’t want to give anyone false hope," Talcott warns. "We are encouraged by the findings, however. Compounds that show good activity against cancer cells in a model system are most likely to have beneficial effects in our bodies."

    Researchers "need to determine potential disease-fighting health benefits, so we can make intelligent recommendations on how much acai should be consumed," says Talcott, and his team hopes to lead with more findings.

    "Our concern has been that it is sold as a super food – and it definitely has some good attributes – but it is not a solution to all diseases," she said. "There are a great number of foods on the market, and this could just be part of a well-balanced diet."

    Stephen Talcott, assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has tests the potential health benefits of the acai berry. Credit: University of Florida
     

    So while this exotic little berry might not be the "cure-all" it's hyped up to be, it still holds amazing benefits for the human body and, if consumed, may make you feel better both inside and out.

     

    References:



    Research Shows Brazilian Acai Berry Antioxidants Absorbed by Human Body. Science Codex. 07 October 2008.

    Brazilian Berry Destroys Cancer Cells in Lab, UF Study Shows. University of Florida News. 12 January, 2006.

    Comments

    Thank you for helping to clear up exactly what the benefits of acai berry are, and for warning that it is best used as a part of an improved/balanced diet. Too many sites are only concerned with selling people on acai's weight loss potential. There are many sites now out there, however, that are reporting the facts about acai berry. Please advise people of these sites and encourage them to visit them for the best information. Thank you.

    There are so many benefits that you can get out of the acai berry that every person should have free access to it. It would save the world so much money it would be unbelievable.Good food for good healthSandra&Ted

    Hi This is truly a number one super food of are modern times from the rain forests of Brazil where so many more new medicines are being discovered all the time. Acai berry and its many forms can only help our bodies to become healthier.Sandraacaiberryreporter.com

    If acai berry is so fabulous why is Oprah so fat again? She must have receiived if at no charge and with her income could well afford to pay for it ,stiil, she is now heavy. A wonderful lady but heavy.

    jtwitten
    Have you ever seen her (former?) personal chef judge Iron Chef America?  His love of bacon and butter (everyone should love bacon and butter) is explanation enough for Oprah's weight roller coaster.
    Hank
    Maybe she reads too many magazines.
    Hey,I tried Acai myself and it did what the site said, so my vote goes to Super food.Jon

    I'm thinking about buying acai berry, your article really helped me. thanks! :)

    I'm thinking about buying acai berry juice, your article really helped me. thanks! :)

    Hank
    Just so you - and every one of your spamming, deceitful friends shilling for every imaginable company - know, we have nofollow for anonymous comments.    Which means I am happy you show up to leave your crappy attempts at selling junk that is probably going to kill anyone stupid enough to buy it from your weird web site because Ashley probably gets a penny every time you do, but there is no chance at all you will get a link from us, much less anyone buying anything.
       
    Keep up the good work.
    do not buy any sample products from super acai sup.. they fool you with a sample price of 4.95 an then they keep billing your card account for 69.95 a month for junk. i have tried several weight loos products an this one is use less . it does not work at all so be warned...

    I've had great success with the trials, $70 a month is not outrageous for such a solid supplement. I read through the terms and conditions, and decided for myself that I want to lose weight, period. Acai berry helps me do that, plain and simple. It's boosted my metabolism, and honestly made me have more energy. Within the first week I had lost 3 pounds, without changing anything in my normal routine. After 3 months now, of hitting the gym, lifting a few weights, and cardio, I've lost 25 pounds. Thanks!
    What about the environmental impacts of harvesting these berries? Where do they come from? South America - a continent already being exploited (we've all heard about the deforestation and exploitation of it's indigenous peoples.
    At what cost are we encouraging and allowing this 'fad' to continue?

    I have been using the acai berry for a little less than two days and have gone from 145.6 lbs to 140.4 lbs already. My mood is improved, along with being less hungery and having more energy. I love this stuff! I have been taking 4000 mg. I think, it's 4 pills a day, in the morning, all at once, and I can feel the difference all day. I started with 2 pills a day and didn't notice a difference, but 4 a day works wonders.