What is Acai Powder?
Many products including acai powderare now being made from the acai palm which is native to Central and South America. Demand for these products has sky-rocketed recently due to health claims made for the palm’s fruit. Acai, whose botanical name is Euterpe Oleracea, was first used medicinally by Amazon cultures. The powder, manufactured from the acai palm berry, is sold in bags online and in health food stores.
Why Am I Hearing So Much About Acai Powder Now?
Acai became popular when featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as when mentioned by Dr. Mehmet Oz and by dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone.
How Do I Use Acai Powder?
Simply stir one teaspoon of acai powder into drinks, smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, tea and desserts.
Is Acai Powder Expensive?
Amazon offers an 100% Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Raw, kosher, gluten-free, vegan acai powder (Navitas Naturals Acai Powder) for about $31 for an 8-ounce pouch, which is $3.87 per ounce. Some stores sell it in smaller amounts but this won’t last very long. You may be able to find it in bulk in particularly well stocked health food stores.
What are Acai Powder’s Claims?
Promoters of acai berry powder claim that it is one of the world’s most powerful anti-aging foods. Its benefits supposedly include:
● Supporting healthy body weight
● High levels of antioxidants
● Improving mental function including concentration, memory, & mental clarity
● Supporting healthy blood sugar levels
● Reducing macular degeneration (vision loss due to aging)
● Improving energy levels
● Supporting healthy cholesterol levels
● Excellent source of natural fiber
● Supporting healthy cellular tissue growth
● Fighting against metabolic diseases
● Supporting capillary health which in turn helps with oxygen uptake
● Support for your skin, hair & nails
Some claims are as vague, simply claiming that acai powder increases energy and enhances health. Advertisers say their acai powder is loaded with antioxidants, an optimal combination of essential amino acids and is packed with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Claims are made that acai powder is a good source of vitamin C and contains many other micro-nutrients including ployphenols and flavonoids.
How Could Acai Powder be so Beneficial?
Acai has one of the highest ratings on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). The ORAC scale is a test developed by USDA researchers out of Tufts University in Boston that measures the antioxidant level in foods. Acai berries possess the ability to absorb injurious, free radicals that attack the body and may contribute to the aging process as well as other diseases.
Acai also contains the highest concentration of anthocyanins of any food. Anthocyanins have been shown to improve mental function, concentration, memory, and mental clarity. They are also known for improving capillary health which in turn helps with oxygen uptake and can reduce macular degeneration (vision loss due to aging). Due to their ability to protect the brain from free radical damage and their support of healthy, cellular tissue growth, anthocyanins are reputed to be one of the most valuable anti-aging antioxidants known.
Where’s the Proof of Acai Powder’s Safety and Effectiveness?
No acai products have been evaluated by the FDA. Experts concluded in 2011 that when the entire scientific literature to date and putative health claims of acai were assessed that the fruit is more a phenomenon of Internet marketing than of scientific substance. In short, there is no scientific confirmation to date of the health benefits of acai and its antioxidant qualities. Specifically, there is no scientific evidence that acai consumption affects body weight, promotes weight loss or has any positive health effect. As recently as April 2012, there were no scientifically controlled studies providing proof of any health benefits from consuming acai in any form.
What do Consumers Say About Acai Powder?
While there are those who rave about acai powder’s health benefits, there are detractors as well. The major complaints seem to be:
1. The powder clumps, not dissolving well, especially in cold liquids.
2. The taste leaves much to be desired.
3. The powder created stomach aches and digestive problems.
4. No improvement in energy was noted.
Note the safety information that some acai powder is packed in a facility that also handles tree nuts.
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