Acai Berry has been touted as a powerhouse superfood and weight loss miracle. However, not only are most of the health claims unproven, the weight loss claims have no basis whatsoever. Although the Acai craze probably peaked a couple years ago, it never went away and the acai berry diet is now back in the news. This month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed 10 more lawsuits against fake acai websites. Shady business practices on the internet have made acai marketing one of the biggest scams in weight loss history, but people are still buying this baloney. By the end of this article, you’ll have seen undeniable proof that the Acai Berry Weight Loss Diet is an absolute fraud.
Super Food or Super Marketing?
Many types of berries could be called “powerhouse superfoods,” although it’s worth pointing out that the word “superfood” is often used (or abused) as a marketing tool. There’s no real scientific definition of that term. If we were to define superfood, we’d probably say it’s a food that has an unusually high nutrient density, which means a large amount of nutrients per calorie.
Acai is an exotic berry, harvested from acai palm trees (euterpe oleracea) native to South America. It’s a small round berry, about the size of a grape, which is green when immature and purple when ripe.
As you’ve probably noticed in ads, exotic plants, fruits and herbs have a lot of sales appeal (“cacti from Africa”, “Berries from the Himalayas,” “juices from the Amazonian rain forest” and so on, make for a good sales pitch).
Like many other fruits, Acai berry contains contains vitamins A, C, E, also calcium, phosphorus, iron and thiamine. They also contain some fiber and healthy fats. What really piqued people’s interest was the research showing that this tropical berry was especially high in polyphenolic compounds and antioxidants – anthocyanin in particular. This is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body against oxidative stress and cell damage.
Why Did Acai Get So Popular? What’s With All The Hype?
We can probably thank Oprah Winfrey for acai becoming famous. Nicholas Perricone appeared on the Oprah show and called Acai a “super food for age-defying beauty.” Within a short period of time, acai became an internet sales sensation with 600,000 results coming up from a Google search and supplement companies scrambling to get in on the action. (Today, a google search for “acai berry” produces 19,500,000 results).
Advertisements were making amazing claims about this “tropical super fruit.” Supplement companies were cashing in by way of calling it a “health miracle.” The health claims included: prevents aging, stops cancer, improves digestion, improves sleep, improves arthritis, improves sexual performance, boosts immune system, detoxifies the body and improves general health.
What would make these “miracle berries” so healthy?
Proponents say it’s the nutrients and bioactive compounds that give acai its health benefits. It is true that the acai berries contain antioxidants. But most of the health claims have not been verified.
What’s more, the research is conflicting about the exact amounts of antioxidants in the berries. Some studies say the antioxidant amount is high, but others say it’s nothing to write home about. Not only that, many other fruits contain similar nutritional value, making the acai not so unique after all.
What about the juices made from acai?
Research has in fact been done on both the whole fruit acai berry and the juices made from acai. A study on one popular brand of acai drink product demonstrated that the juice or juice pulp also protected cells from antioxidant activity like the whole food berries did.
Fruit juices in general, while they can sometimes be nutritionally dense, are also very calorie dense. Research also suggests that liquid calories are not as satiating as whole foods and people tend not to cut back on calories from food intake when taking in calories in liquid form.
Richard D. Mattes, professor of food and nutrition at Purdue University says, “Fluid calories do not hold strong satiety properties, don’t suppress hunger and don’t elicit compensatory dietary responses. In fact, “when drinking fluid calories, people often end up eating more calories overall.”
As long as you tightly account for calories, there’s no reason not to include fruit juice if you really want to. However, you’re more likely to over consume liquid calories than whole food if you’re not careful.
Insights from an Amazonian
Why are so many people saying Acai is a scam?
Many nutrition and consumer organizations, including the American Dietetic Association, The Better Business Bureau and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have issued warnings not only about the questionable effectiveness of acai products but about the questionable marketing and promotion of acai products.
They all warn consumers to be suspicious of acai free trials and bogus blogs in particular, and check Better Business Bureau ratings for online acai businesses.
Oprah Winfrey, Mehmet Oz, the FTC and a number of State Attorney Generals have filed lawsuits against acai companies for false endorsements and misleading claims. In fact, the acai industry was single-handedly responsible for the FTC changing their laws regarding the advertising of products online using testimonials and affiliate programs.
A report released by the Australian Consumer Association (the ACA is the Australian equivalent of “consumer reports” in the states), recently gave their two cents about the claims made for the “superfruit juices” such as goji, noni, mangosteen and acai.
The verdict? Healthy? Maybe. Overpriced? Definitely. Exaggerated or false health claims? Absolutely.
The ACA’s point about the price is not a minor one. The acai industry has flourished in network marketing. The way products are sold in multi-level marketing usually translates into higher retail to consumers, in order to pay downline distributors commissions. The prices on many of these products is exorbitant.
What about the weight loss claims? Can acai berry products help you lose fat?
To the best of my knowledge, and quite ironically considering the vociferous ad claims, weight loss or change in body composition HAS NEVER EVEN BEEN STUDIED! There is no evidence that acai does anything to help you with weight loss. Where the weight loss claims come from, I have no idea.
On second thought, I do have an idea…
Health claims sell food products like gangbusters. What’s the only thing that sells better than remarkable health claims? Add a weight loss claim: “It cures disease and helps you lose weight!” There you have a blockbuster. If you include anti aging and better performance in the bedroom on the health claims list and you can see why so many consumers fell for this and why so many scammers got rich from this.
The bottom line? Is it worth consuming acai products or not?
I recommend adding all kinds of berries into your nutrition plan, but I mostly recommend the whole fruit over juice due to the fiber and satiety properties of the berries. I also believe there is nothing so special about acai that you should go out of your way to eat acai or any other exotic berry above more common types of berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and so on.
The ADA’s position statement on Acai gives good advice:
“Until the health benefits of the acai berry are scientifically proven, it seems more reasonable, cheaper and safer to get antioxidants from other fruit and vegetable sources.”
As does the CSPI:
“There’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that açai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse colons, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions”… “If Bernard Madoff were in the food business, he’d be offering ‘free’ trials of açai-based weight-loss products.”
I am now going to show you some shocking and undeniable proof of how acai berry made millions and millions of dollars for scammers online with fake weight loss blogs.
In the photo below, you will see one of the infamous fake blogs that were (and still are) found all over the internet for the last few years. Usually you would find these blogs from a search engine, or you might see an advertisement on another website, which led you to the fake blog.
How do I know it’s fake? Because the before and after “testimonial” in the scam website is my friend and past Blog contributor, Adam Waters!
However, Adam did not authorize the use of his photographs. In fact, he never even used acai! The scammers RIPPED OFF Adam’s photos from his personal website after he made a legitimate and spectacular body transformation on his own (without supplements or “superfoods”) and put them up on their fake acai scam “blog.”
The acai craze probably peaked around 2009, but it’s remarkable how prevalent the ads still are to this day. If there were EVER a place to say “buyer beware” it’s in the case of the Acai berry marketing on the internet.
Warning! Buyer Beware! The Image Below is a Website Screenshot Capture of a FAKE Acai Scam Blog:
For more information go to www.burnthefat.com
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer and author ofBurn the Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has writtenover 140 articles and has been featured in Iron Man Magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development,Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom is the Fat Loss Expert for Global-Fitness.com and the nutrition editor for Femalemuscle.com and his articles are featured regularly on literally dozens of other websites.