Acai Berry and Weight Loss? Don’t Fall for It
November 28, 2012
All these benefits and more – in one little berry. Ever since Dr. Oz and Dr. Perricone praised the acai berry for its high antioxidant concentrations, supplement manufacturers have been making over-the-top claims such as these about this Brazilian superfruit.
“The ads are everywhere now,” says Susan Donaldson James, ABC journalist. “Acai for weight loss, acai for sexual dysfunction, acai for cancer. . 
Statistics have shown that acai products generated over $15 million in annual sales, and in November 2011, it generated more than 1.5 million acai-related searches on Google.
Yet for all the hype about its amazing health benefits, can the acai berry really live up to its reputation?
What is the Acai Berry?
The Acai berry, pronounced ah-sigh-ee, is an inch-long, dark colored fruit native to Central and South America.
It is naturally rich in anthocyanins, which produces its dark red, purple, and blue hues. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants which can protect the body against oxidative stress, boosting the immune system and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Like most berries, the Acai is rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber – all of which can contribute to overall health. It’s also one of the few fruits that contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which can keep you feeling satisfied on a calorie-controlled diet (though the MUFAs content in acai is so small you would have to consume large quantities to get enough) .
Additionally, many acai users claim the berry tastes like a combination of red wine and chocolate- how’s that for irresistible?
Does it Help You Lose Weight?
“Acai berry is not a weight loss ingredient,” explains Jayson Hunter, RD, CSCS. “It has never been proven to be a weight loss ingredient. Everything you see with acai berry and weight loss is all hype and false.”
David Grotto, RD, adds, “Acai is a nutrient-rich source of antioxidants, much like many other fruits, but there is nothing magical about the fruit to cause weight loss.” 
So how did the Acai weight loss myth get started?
Back in 2000, Ryan and Jeremy Black went on a surfing trip to Brazil where they stumbled upon the acai berry. They founded the company Sambazon and then sold acai products back to the US.
As the acai berry attracted the attention of multi-level marketing companies, the superfruit was included in diet pills and supplements as a fiber-rich detoxifier. Pretty quickly, consumers made the assumption that acai was responsible for weight loss rather than the additional ingredients in the diet pills.
In order to compete for the growing market, manufacturers began praising acai for benefits the fruit did not have. The more popular the superfruit became, the more outrageous the claims.
“The expensive acai berry is triumph of marketing over science, that’s the bottom line,” says Jonny Bowden, certified nutrition specialist. “It’s not useless, but it’s not anything that people are claiming it is.”
Don’t Fall for the Scam
While the acai berry has a lot to offer in terms of health and immunity, if you’re in the market for a reliable acai supplement, be careful what you buy.
According to Mike Adams, editor for NaturalNews.com, “the popularity of acai’s nutritional benefits led to a wave of charlatans and hucksters selling adulterated (or even counterfeit) acai products online. Mainstream media websites including the LA Times widely promoted the fraudulent acai scams by carrying their advertising, receiving revenues from the fraudulent marketing of adulterated acai for weight loss.” 
Furthermore, many diet pill manufacturers parade Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Perricone’s name as if the celebrities endorsed the product. Their names are trusted and add credibility to an otherwise shifty company or website.
Over 40 different companies were “fabricating quotes or falsely purporting to speaking Dr. Oz’s and/or Ms. Winfrey’s voice about specific brands and products that neither of them endorsed.” 
Yet according to an interview with Dr. Oz, “If my picture is next to a product, endorsing it and supporting your purchase of it, I did not give them permission.”
The Better Business Bureau even listed Acai Supplements and other “free” trial offers as one of the top 10 scams and rip-offs of 2009. 
Consequently, it can be easy to fall for another acai berry scam.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Acai
“In order to ensure that you get your money’s worth for real Acai berry pills, it is vital that you know what to look for,” explains Myra Horton, health writer. “Knowing which pills are scams will help you to determine which of the real pills will be the best to help you stay healthy.” 
Here are some tips and tricks to finding a reliable acai product:
- If it claims to be a miracle cure or fast weight loss solution – it’s a scam
- If it claims to be “nearly” 100% pure – then it’s a scam
- Look for products that used freeze drying when processing their acai
- Avoid acai berry extracts – you want the entire berry, seeds and all.
- Look for an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value on the label. The higher the value, the better.
- Always shop with someone you trust, such as a local health food store or website with a trustworthy reputation.
While the acai berry is overhyped in regards to weight loss and fat burning, this little superfruit can make a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet of different fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Just be careful where you buy it.
-  Susan Donaldson James. “Warnings on Acai berry Online Offers Amplify.” ABC News. March 23, 2009.
-  Hunter, Jayson. “What Does Acai Berry Really Do??”
-  Zelman, Kathleen. “Acai: Weight Loss Wonder Fruit?” WebMD Feature.
-  Mike Adams, “Did you know? Acai berries actually come from palm trees.” Natural News.
-  Rich McHuge and Lindsay Goldwert. “Oprah, Dr. Oz Sue Over ‘Hurtful’ Acai Berry Claims.” ABC News.
-  “BBB Lists Top 10 Scams and Rip-Offs of 2009.” Better Business Bureau. 1/6/2010.
-  Horton, Myra. “Acai Berry Pills – What Exactly Should You Be Looking For?” HealthierPost.com.