Monday, February 9, 2009
Medical Reports: Acai Answers
It's the new buzz word in the health world. Some claim a little Brazilian berry can help with everything from anti-aging to weight loss, but is it really a medical miracle? Seven's Diana Diaz went to the experts for the Acai Answers.
WSVN -- Acai is being touted as the new super food.
Jackie Benitez first heard about it on Oprah and decided to try it after reading a book on anti-aging.
Jackie: "I did read the book 'the Dr. Perricone Promise,' and he mentions 10 top super foods, and the number one super food is the acai berry."
She now drinks acai juice everyday.
Jackie: "I drink about a half of glass in the morning with my other vitamins, and then before going to bed or going to the gym I have a little bit more."
She's already a believer in the berry.
Jackie: "I noticed the benefits like the third day, the energy. I got so much more energy."
Internet ads and websites claim the acai berry is packed with antioxidants, which protect us against free radicals that cause disease and aging.
But doctors we talked to say there isn't any real scientific proof acai is a miracle food.
Dr. Melissa Lazarus, Board Certified Dermatologist: "As a dermatologist, I love anti-oxidants. They help prevent skin cancer, they help prevent anti-aging. Do I think acai berry is the panacea of anti-oxidants? No. Do I think it should be added to the diet, yes, but I think lots of different anti-oxidants should be added."
One doctor even told us the acai berry might not be any better than other types of berries.
Dr. Juan Remos, Miami Institute of Age Management: "It has been proven scientifically that it has the power to fight one particular free radical in our body, but there is no evidence of anything else."
Dr. Juan Remos: "NIH and the National Institute of Aging published a list of the 20 foods that have the highest antioxidant content. There are five types of berries listed, and acai is not there."
On those lists: blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and sweet cherries.
Dr. Melissa Lazarus: "There is so many out there. Salmon has great antioxidants, flax seed has great antioxidants, so people should not depend on one item to give them the antioxidants they need."
And when it comes to weight loss, there are all sorts of products claiming the acai berry will help drop the pounds.
Dr. Juan Remos: "I haven't found any scientific evidence that the acai berry will help you lose weight."
Doctors say these products often contain added ingredients that could be harmful.
Dr. Remos: "Usually, when there is significant weight loss on those natural products, they do contain substances that accelerate your metabolism at the expense of causing damage to your health."
For Jackie, it's not hype but a health hit for her. She believes acai has helped her with weight loss and even with her joint pain.
Jackie: "I think I am doing the right thing. I really, really believe in the acai berry. This is like a super food. I see it as a miracle juice."
You won't find whole acai berries in the grocery store because they are difficult to grow in the U.S., and they are highly perishable, so they don't ship well. You will find acai juice and pulp.