Sunday, 28 June 2009

Are Acai Berries Really All That?

There has been a craze behind the beneficial effects of the acai (pronounced aa-sigh-ee) berry and how they are full of anti-oxidants and can help one lose weight. But how much is true and how much is false advertising? I almost tried to buy some myself but decided to do some research first.

It all started with Dr. Oz who mentioned the beneficial effects of the acai berry on Oprah. However, if one investigates into the matter, one can find the following:

"Neither Oprah Winfrey nor Dr. Oz endorse or are associated with any acai berry product or on-line solicitation of such products," said Harpo spokeman Don Halcombe. "Harpo lawyers are aggressively pursuing all of the companies that we know about or are reported to us."

"We were looking at foods that have deep colors," said Oz. "These naturally colorful ones reflect antioxidant power."

As far as those weight-loss properties, Oz said, "I'd be surprised if by itself acai could help."

But, he confided, "it's not going to hurt you, and it's as good an antioxidant as anything else. That's not where I would put my money."

The best way to lose weight, according to Oz, is to avoid simple carbohydrates and incorporate the right nutrients into one's diet, lose that fat around the waist, exercise and add fruits, vegetables and fiber to the diet.

"All other things like supplements have limited benefits," he said. "If you order French fries, a Big Mac and a large coke, you're not going to lose weight and even the acai isn't going to help."

Moral of the story - Don't believe everything you hear on TV.
"Invariably, as is the case with these products, the hype gets way ahead of the science," said Dr. David Katz, associate clinical professor of public health and medicine at Yale University. "You get more bang for the buck by just eating more fruits and vegetables."
The news article goes on to say:

While there is some merit to the rich antioxidant content of exotic fruits such as acai, consumers can get the same punch in dark chocolate and an array of other foods, such as oranges, tomatoes and blueberries, according to Katz.

"There really are two fallacies: one is that we can package the benefits of a food into a supplement - that often doesn't work," he said. "The second is that just because a food is high in antioxidants, it will translate into unique health benefits. We have no evidence of that either."

There is no proven scientific data regarding the amazing benefits of the acai berry. The research that I did come across claimed that acai berries have an anti cancer affect in cell cultures. Here's the thing though, most fruits and vegetables will have the same effect! This is because of the presence of the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E.

Free radicals and oxygen radicals, produced by our body during respiration, metabolism and by other causes such as pollution, smoking, etc, are harmful to our cells and can lead to cancer so our body tries to neutralize these by using antioxidants. Antioxidants can also have a cardio-protective effect.

The best method to get a rich source of antioxidants is by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. These also provide fiber which is great for constipation, diarrhea and preventing colon cancer. Everyone should try to get a minimum of 30 mins daily exercise and in order to lose weight one should exercise for atleast an hour. There is no trick to weight loss. It comes down to burning more calories than you consume. Whenver you find yourself focusing too much on a certain type of food, remember, moderation is key. The aim should be to cut out junk food, eating excessive carbohydrates and try to consume a more balanced diet along with staying active. It also helps to stay well hydrated and get a good night's sleep.