I was speaking with a new client several years ago, and while we were going over healthy eating and exercise tips, she mentioned that she was trying to remove hundreds of dollars in charges from her credit card. She'd clicked through an Internet ad on the wonders of acai and had signed up for a free trial - without knowing she was also agreeing to automatic renewal every month. Three months later, she was several hundred dollars poorer and just as heavy as she'd always been. She was also, understandably, a bit down on acai.
Acai (pronounced "ah-sigh-EE") is a berry from a South American palm tree that became popular with people dedicated to healthy eating a few years into the new century. Among the claims its supporters made:
- Acai fights cancer.
- Acai potentially prevents heart disease.
- Acai helps dieters drop 30 pounds in a month.
It's unfortunate that marketers went so overboard with their claims about acai's benefits that many people don't trust it at all now. Obviously, you will not lose 30 pounds in 30 days just by adding a handful of berries to your diet (and unless you're under professional supervision, you shouldn't lose that much weight that quickly anyway). The only way to permanently lose weight is to combine an exercise program with a healthy eating plan geared toward your metabolism type.
Still, acai does have real health benefits, and as long as you're adding it to your diet responsibly - and without the expectation that it will do all the work for you - acai is an excellent addition to a healthy eating plan.
Here are some of the real benefits of acai:
- They're rich in antioxidants. Acai berries are, as the name suggests, berries. They grow at the very top of South American acai palms and are dark red/purple in color. Acai berries contain two common antioxidants: flavonoids and anthocyanins. A high concentration of anthocyanins causes the skin of berries to darken, so the highest concentrations are often found in very dark fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, and acai.
- They fight free radicals. The higher the concentration of antioxidants, the more firepower a food has when it comes to fighting the free radicals that wreak havoc on your health. Acai berries are absolutely teeming with antioxidants, which makes them an excellent addition to your diet.
- They combat skin damage. Acai berries don't lose their antioxidant power when they're processed, so it isn't uncommon to see acai oil included in cosmetics. After all, free radicals don't only damage your insides!
Whenever you're evaluating the health claims of some new superfruit from the jungles of [insert exotic location here], it's important to keep a level head. There is no food - anywhere in the world - that will cause rapid, massive weight loss. But just because the claims of a food's most wild-eyed proponents are a bit out there doesn't mean you should write it off entirely.