You’ve probably seen or heard of acai berries. Either in your lotion, shampoo, sold as a supplement or a juice. It’s another one of those “superfoods” according to bottles and salespeople.
Acai berries are marketed as preventing a number of ailments and touted claims include lowering cholesterol, fighting
cardiovascular disease and preventing allergies. Of course, it is also presented as a powerful cancer fighter. Aren’t they all!
If you’re like me, you just want to know the facts on acai and whether the berry really prevents cancer, or any other disease. Here are the facts!
- Acai berries are purple berries from the Amazon Rainforest.
- Acai is most often processed into a juice, capsule or as an additive in products.
- acai berries have not been proven effective in treating or preventing disease in humans.
- only a handful of human studies have ever been conducted to assess their effects.
- current “evidence” is only based on limited lab studies and anecdotes or personal stories
These facts are not suggesting that acai berries aren’t beneficial to your health or immune system. Acai berries are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals.
Foods with more antioxidant capacity are thought to be better “scavengers” of free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can damage cells and provide an opportunity for cancer or other chronic disease to develop.
There are currently no established recommendations for the amount or kinds of antioxidants required on a daily basis to best protect us from disease. Eating a variety of plant-based foods each day including plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans – is the best way to get a broad range of antioxidants and other protective phytochemicals. No one food can give all of these nutrients.
You may have noticed that acai berry products can be quite pricey! Supplement and food companies need you to believe that their product offers unique health benefits and something you can’t get anywhere else.
Most make unfounded claims that their goods can treat or cure disease and most of the time believing these messages of false hope can make a big dent in your wallet!
More research is needed to prove the effectiveness of acai berry in fighting diseases like cancer. In the meantime, you are best advised to avoid dietary supplements containing these plant compounds.
In order to provide your body with the vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals that offer protective benefits against disease, be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans – not pills. Enjoy acai berries as part of a well-balanced, plant-based diet, but don’t look to any specific product to offer enhanced protection from disease.
Most of this information comes from my favorite source of cancer nutrition information, the American Institute for Cancer Research (www.aicr.org). They have great articles, recipes and evidence-based information regarding diet and cancer. Check them out when my information isn’t enough!!