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By Dr. Paul Gross
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There is still mystery about acai (pronounced “ah-sigh-ee“).

The Brazilian palmberry (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) has been noticeable in the North American consumer market for only 5 years and scientific knowledge about it is just beginning—by far the least researched of major berries.

Yet acai is commonly included among superfruits, a position based mainly on its exceptional antioxidant strength demonstrated in test tube studies.

These features - 1) exotic origin, 2) growing popularity as a smoothie ingredient or juice, 3) nutrient value and 4) antioxidant interest - have been enough to launch superfruits like acai into mainstream retail and network markets.

Marketing Far Ahead of Science: Spawning of Acai Scams  

The danger of market excitement in the absence of science is that unscrupulous manufacturers and marketers will overstate what is known about a supposed health product like acai.

The goal of their deception is to stimulate sales through exorbitant claims of benefits from using their products, when no science supports such statements.

Acai has been claimed in various fraud programs to

help lose weight
cleanse the digestive system
improve neurological functions
enhance sexual performance
maintain an active and healthy lifestyle
... among many other claims one can see by searching ‘acai’ with Google—over 14 million websites!

All of the antioxidant and other health benefit marketing statements about acai are fabricated—none derives from science!

Acai Scam Warning: Center for Science in the Public Interest  

CSPI is a leading voice for the American public on nutrition, food safety and health. As a watchdog against consumer fraud, CSPI released in March 2009 a report on acai products marketed with claims of health benefits that have not been scientifically proved.

“If Bernard Madoff were in the food business, he'd be offering ‘free’ trials of açai-based weight-loss products,” said CSPI senior nutritionist David Schardt, who authored an exposé of the scam in the April issue of CSPI's Nutrition Action Healthletter.

“Law enforcement has yet to catch up to these rogue operators. Until they do, consumers have to protect themselves.”

Summary of Scientific Facts about Acai  

1. Acai is a nutrient-rich fruit -- it has high content of vitamin E, omega fats, dietary fiber, essential minerals and phytosterols

2. The widely reported exceptional ORAC value for acai is a distorted, misinterpreted value , as no other comparable fruit was prepared for analysis in the same way, and is meaningless for functions in the human body

3. Acai has rich levels of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins  -- the putative 'antioxidants', but the biological importance of these polyphenols is not yet known and is subject to scientific doubt

4. Polyphenols from acai stimulate apoptosis (inhibit cancer onset mechanisms) in leukemia cells in laboratory test tube studies

5. A polyphenol-rich oil containing high levels of oleic acid (similar to olive oil) and phytosterols can be extracted from fruit pulp and juice


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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Dec 29, 2009
    • I’m glad you brought this up, Trudy. And I’ve been a reader of CSPI’s newsletter for more than 20 years - very credible source of information!

      Someone hacked my Twitter account and began sending messages to others about “my” weightloss with the acai berry. That really got me upset and I stopped using Twitter.

      Thanks for shedding some light on this topic.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Dec 30, 2009
    • Everyone who is hacked they are all about Acai and weight loss including Cynthia .......



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Dec 30, 2009
    • Thanks Cynthia!  I am sorry you got hacked tongue out

      Glad you caught it though.  There are just so many scams out there - and many of us are so worried about our weight that we can fall easily for them.



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