Acai berry scams started with myths about scientific research on weight loss. There is no such research in reputable scientific journals.
No Science Behind Acai Berry Scams
Recently I did a search on ‘acai’ at the PubMed database to see what, if any, research has been published on acai at all. It turns out that there is quite a bit of research, although none of it has to do with weight loss. The full list of 89 articles that came up in this search is available at this post: Acai Berry Reviews – Scientific Research, in case you are interested in all the gory details.
Note that one additional article was published on acai since this search:
Poulose SM, Fisher DR, Larson JA, Bielinski DF, Rimando AM, Carey AN, Schauss AG,
Shukitt-Hale B. Anthocyanin-rich açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) fruit pulp fractions attenuate inflammatory stress signaling in mouse brain BV-2 microglial cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jan 5. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22224493
Of the total of 90 references, at least 24 had nothing to do with acai berry. Nine of these had an author named Acai, eight referred to the American College of Allergy and Immunology (ACAI), two had to do with something called an aortic calcification area index (ACAI), and three discussed intracellular calcium activity (aCai). The search also mistakenly came up with an article about Audio Computer Assisted Self Interview (ACASI) and an article with a typo about angiotension converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs).
Human Health Research
The sum total of acai berry research that directly involved studies of human beings is 6 articles from the list:
Udani JK, Singh BB, Singh VJ, Barrett ML. Effects of Açai (Euterpe oleraceaMart.) berry preparation on metabolic parameters in a healthy overweight population: a pilot study. Nutr J. 2011 May 12;10:45. PubMed PMID: 21569436; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3118329.
Jensen GS, Ager DM, Redman KA, Mitzner MA, Benson KF, Schauss AG. Pain reduction and improvement in range of motion after daily consumption of an açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp-fortified polyphenolic-rich fruit and berry juice blend. J Med Food. 2011 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):702-11. Epub 2011 Apr 6. PubMed PMID: 21470042; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3133683.
Marcason W. What is the açaí berry and are there health benefits? J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Nov;109(11):1968. PubMed PMID: 19857637.
Sabbe S, Verbeke W, Deliza R, Matta V, Van Damme P. Effect of a health claim and personal characteristics on consumer acceptance of fruit juices with different concentrations of açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart.). Appetite. 2009 Aug;53(1):84-92. Epub 2009 May 23. PubMed PMID: 19467277.
Jensen GS, Wu X, Patterson KM, Barnes J, Carter SG, Scherwitz L, Beaman R, Endres JR, Schauss AG. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities of an antioxidant-rich fruit and berry juice blend. Results of a pilot and randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 24;56(18):8326-33. Epub 2008 Aug 22. PubMed PMID: 18717569.
Mertens-Talcott SU, Rios J, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, Pacheco-Palencia LA, Meibohm B, Talcott ST, Derendorf H. Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep10;56(17):7796-802. Epub 2008 Aug 12. PubMed PMID: 18693743.
The article by Marcasan (2009) isn’t really a study. It is a review/idea paper that has no original data.
Where Does This Leave Us?
Marketing scams and unethical companies dominate a lot of the discussion about acai berry scams. However, before any of this nonsense ever got to be such a monster for the weight loss industry – even endorsed by Oprah!? – there wasn’t a single study in the scientific literature that even examined the question of whether acai berry is helpful as a weight loss supplement. Simply amazing.
What do you think now?
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