Perhaps you’ve heard of a little fruit called the acai berry, a fruity wonder from the Amazon bursting with antioxidants—-substances that neutralize the free radicals responsible for illness and aging—-such as anthocyanins and flavonoids. The acai berry has been touted as a superfruit that can help you lose weight, improve your immunity (especially valuable if you’ve recently committed a crime), improve the quality of your sleep, and even do your laundry and clean your house!
The problem with acai, besides its problematic pronunciation*, is that with increased publicity this innocent berry, who once ran in quiet social circles with its relatives the raspberry and blueberry, has now joined the ranks of hardcore rockers like wheatgrass and garlic as an alluring superfood in the hot and heavy world of nutrition. And we all know what happens to hot items once they’ve caught the eye of the industry—-they’re exploited for financial gain.
*It’s pronounced “a sigh'”
And that’s why I’m here, Readers. I know that fancy packaging and smart marketing can leave your head spinning as you strive to distinguish among acai juices, powders, and capsules. I am much smarter than your average individual,** yet even I got swept up in the acai berry phenomenon and ended up buying acai smoothies, acai energy drinks, acai-infused chocolate bars, and even purchased a house made entirely out of acai berries. Having done my research (acai berry as a health food = good; acai berry as a durable building material = poor), I’d like to extend my support as you navigate the nutrition aisle on your next jaunt to Whole Foods. Here are my suggestions. You can take them, and if you do, you’ll be the first.
**I’ve never taken an IQ test, but I just have this gut feeling that I’m smarter than you are.
If You Want Acai, Make Sure You’re Getting Acai
If you don’t have time for a daily jaunt to the Amazon for fresh berries, you can buy acai berry pulp. You can also buy the juice. Sambazon has a tasty one sweetened with agave. Watch out for wanna-be juices that have jumped on the acai bandwagon but are actually packed with sugar and/or juice concentrates from other, less nutrient-rich fruits. One example is MonaVie acai juice, which gets called onto the carpet on this website for diluting the acai berry’s power with an amalgamation of other fruit juices. So make good friends with ingredient lists to ensure you’re getting what you want.
If Something Seems Too Good to Be True, Buy Lots Of It!
Or…..it probably is too good to be true. According to this website, “most of the drinks made from Acai berry for commercial exploitation, are reconstituted from Acai concentrate, thereby destroying much of the inherent beneficial nature of the berry due to pasteurization and the manufacturing processes the ingredients go through.” The authors also suggest that there may be fewer micrograms of anthocyanins—-the active ingredient in acai juices—-in an entire bottle of a typical commercialized acai juice than in 20 or 30 grapes.
Keep your Friends Close, and your Acai Berries even Closer
If you go the acai berry supplement route, buy a certified organic freeze-dried supplement. The freeze-drying process bypasses the need for pasteurization and the addition of preservatives, which are some of the downfalls of the juice. And buy your supplements directly from a local health food store, rather than the several thousand websites offering you a “free trial” with a “money-back guarantee.” According to this blogger, an investigation found that these websites may be more interested in your credit card than in either ensuring your weight loss or providing you with a high-quality product.
Finally, Readers, as you meditate on your newfound knowledge of the acai berry and consider whether it’d be a worthwhile addition to your household (but not your house), allow me to offer you this exclusive sneak peak at the new Troi-Berry (shown below), which was recently discovered near the planet of Qo’noS, home of the Klingons, and is currently being transported to Earth. As it is a relatively new find among humans, it is currently unknown whether the Troi-Berry has any health benefits, but it is known to be incredibly good-looking.