The Acai Berry

Why is it that we always want to find a magic food, or group of foods to make us healthy?  In this case, the Acai berry (ah Sigh EE) is the latest craze to cure everything with magic anti-oxidant powers.  So much so that Americans spent over $108 million  last year for this product.

I promise to address the myth of oxidants in a post, but for the purpose of discussion — let’s pretend that we want a lot of anti-oxidants in our diet.  If we do, and if more is better, does this mean we should spend sixty bucks a bottle for the magic of the Acai berry?

The great thing about science is we can measure things.  We can measure anti oxidant potential, put some berries in a test tube, come up with a number, and compare.  To be a nerd about it — there are a number of tests that one can apply to a product to test them: four tests of antioxidant potency [Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), total oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), free radical scavenging capacity by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP)]; (2) a test of antioxidant functionality, that is, inhibition of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation by peroxides and malondialdehyde methods; and (3) evaluation of the total polyphenol content [by gallic acid equivalents (GAEs)] of polyphenol-rich beverages in the marketplace.  The results of those tests? PJ had the greatest antioxidant potency composite index among the beverages tested and was at least 20% greater than any of the other beverages tested. Antioxidant potency, ability to inhibit LDL oxidation, and total polyphenol content were consistent in classifying the antioxidant capacity of the polyphenol-rich beverages in the following order: Pomegranate Juice >red wine>Concord grape juice>blueberry juice>black cherry juice, açaí juice, cranberry juice>orange juice, iced tea beverages, apple juice.

The Acai Berry is a scam.  Offering free trials while getting credit card information – and, as with all supplements, unregulated (by act of Congress) by the F.D.A. The Center for Science and the Public Interest issued a warning about these scams . Click here.

Who says the Acai berry is wonderful – -even Oprah (yea the Oprah) and her beloved Doctor Mehmet Oz (listing this berry as one of the top ten power foods).  Not that we can compete with the power of Oprah, but she continues to put forth myth after myth, sending people to places that have no benefit, no science, and spending hard earned money.  Of course, a skeptic doctor would say — gee, lets see how well this does with Oprah. Did she lose weight? Is she healthier than ever? Is her immune system now super charged?

In the meantime, a doctor, Dr. Oz, telling everyone about the Acai Berry. He stated that “”It has twice the antioxidant content as a blueberry, so it’s a wonderful alternative,” Too bad that Dr. Oz didn’t check the facts — it does not have twice the antioxidant of blueberry, in fact, as you can see, the blueberry has more antioxidant than the acai.

For those who are interested, Dr. Oz, a cardiac surgeon, has a strong interest in becoming a public official – no doubt wanting a job in the U.S. Senate, or a nice public launching as the Surgeon General.  What we need in the office of the Surgeon General is  someone who promotes the public interest, not someone who promotes the whims of fad and pseudoscience. We need a skeptic for Surgeon General.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.

Share this article on social media!

Latest Comments

  1. Lose No Weight and Lots of Money with Acai Berries « Evidence Based Thought
    [...] as cleansing colons (which is a scam in itself) and enhancing ones sexual prowess. Check out the Skeptic Doc’s blog entry on acai berries and what is interesting is that there is a range of other exotic items such as [...]

  2. thankful says:

    Thanks for this post and your post in May on anioxidants (and praise God for Google which lead me to evidencebasedthought.wordpress.com which plugged your post)

    I almost divulged my credit card info to acaiforcemax.com but then I realized how it’d activate like three different trials to three different companies… and I’m like “Are you kidding me?!?!?!”

    I put in a call to what I thought was the main company… after all, “remember, there’s no obligation – you can cancel your membership at any time by calling 888-948-5508” so that lead me to believe someone would be available to answer my question “Uh, am I really signing up to all these automatic trials or am I just getting one month’s worth of the product to try out for $4.95”? No such luck, they were conveniently closed (@ 8pm PST when I called).

    Red flag, time to Google.

    Any how… thanks again for this post.

  3. The Doc says:

    Happy to help with that. If you go to most super markets you can try that stuff- and it is, in my opinion – bloody awful. Get a blueberry instead!

  4. Your view on mona vie says:

    I am trying this product called mona vie they make all sorts of claims unoficially but is it realy doing me any good.

  5. The Doc says:

    It doesn’t do nearly what they say it will do– and costs a lot. Personally I find that product to taste horrible. You can get much more benefit from fresh fruit from your grocery store– it will cost less, fill you up, and do better things for you. Mona Vie is a marketing gimmick- not a health product, in my opinion.

  6. NS says:

    Oprah and Dr Oz’s backgrounds or agendas are irrelevant. Have you put these berries on trial for the amount of time their packs suggest? What the berries are composed of and how they compare with other food, is not interesting compared to how they affect the human body. Theory and speculation- BORING and NOT HELPFUL

  7. The Doc says:

    I am not certain I understand your point or question. When we talk about how that anti-oxidants effect the human body we have to go to fact and fiction. There is a lot of fiction out there about what anti-oxidants do and don’t do, and a lot of speculation. The point is simply this– if you want potent anti-oxidants you do not need to have expensive and (in my opinion) lousy tasting alternatives – -you can use something simple, inexpensive, and tasty. When it comes to anti-oxidants– it is all theory and speculation at this point. We know what they do in the test tube, we speculate what they do in human beings — and so all we can go by now — is the test tube. If you have further or good information about what they do in humans please share. But remember– this is not a site about anecdotes — that is, what you heard from the makers of Mona Vie or other marketing scams. This is a site that has a strong skeptical bent to it. Testimonials are not helpful.

  8. New Years Cleanse | The Weight Loss Doctor
    [...] help your body? Try this instead: focus on eating healthy this year. Don’t bother trying to drink Acai berries (see a previous post) – they don’t taste that great and are not as [...]

Leave a Reply