Natural Medicine Myth #4: Acai Berry

This is a continuation of my series (in no particular order) on misperceptions in the field of natural medicine.  My previous articles focused on policosanolcinnamon, and systemic candida.

If you’ve been to any sites on the World Wide Web in the past several years, you’ve probably heard of the miracle fruit called acai berry.  Its touted health benefits range from weight loss to treatment for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and beyond.  There is no shortage of testimonials about these effects, and the ads about acai are often disguised as phony “news investigations.”

The first thing to consider about such claims is that even though testimonials are emotionally compelling, they do not comprise any sort of scientific evidence.  Many of the actual scientific studies about the benefits of acai were done in vitro (that is, in the test tube) — meaning that any benefits for people actually ingesting acai are purely a guess.

What do we actually know about acai?  This species of palm tree (Euterpe oleracea) is common in South America, and produces an antioxidant-rich fruit.  This fruit is an important staple in the diet of some native Amazonian peoples.  The antioxidant qualities of acai have contributed to its reputation as a “health food.”  Howerver, analyses of this fruit show that its antioxidant content is lower than that of blueberries, mango, strawberries, and grapes.

If you’ve been around the natural health scene for a while, you’ve seen this before.  Prior to acai, the miracle fruit was goji berry.  Then there was mangosteen, and oh yeah — noni juice!  Remember that oldie but goodie from the ’90s?

People like a good story — really, it’s what makes us human.  We like stories of exotic fruits from faraway lands with mysterious-sounding names.  Does that mean all those anecdotes about health benefits are false?  Maybe not — if folks are eating the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) of fast food, processed food, and junk food, then consumption of any fruit or vegetable is bound to improve their health!

Wouldn’t it make more sense to eat some healthy fruits grown locally in our own region, like blueberries?  Without the thousands of miles of transportation, they retain much higher levels of their nutrients and antioxidants.  Enjoy the abundance we have right here of colorful fruits and veggies.  Save the exorbitant cost of acai and other miracle fruits; enjoy a good book or movie for your story.

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