The story goes that this fruit saved a tribe from extinction. It has a powerful nutritional profile. But some claims about acai and acai extract are outrageously bogus…
According to legend, many years ago an Amazon Indian tribe grew so large that there wasn’t enough food to go around. So the tribal chief devised a plan to stretch the food supply: He decreed that all newborn babies should be killed.
When his own daughter, Iaca, gave birth to a baby, he was afraid to show partiality. So, tragically, Iaca’s baby was killed along with all the other newborn infants.
Iaca went into solitary confinement, mourning her baby’s death alone in her hut for days.
After many days, she thought she heard a baby cry and went into the jungle in search of the baby. What she found instead was a huge palm tree deep in the jungle, shooting toward the sky, literally blanketed with dark-colored fruit.
If this food source had been discovered earlier, she realized, she would still be cuddling her dear baby, and so, in total desperation, Iaca leaned against the tree and died.
The next day, the tribe’s people went in search of Iaca, and discovered her body there under the tree — along with the food supply that could have saved her baby and so many others.
The chief decreed the tree his daughter died under should be named after her, so it was called the “acai” (“Iaca” backwards).
“The Fruit That Cries”
The indigenous people know acaí as “içá-çai” — which, roughly translated, means, “the fruit that cries.”
If this story is true, there were, indeed, many tears shed over the late discovery of that valuable food source. Now that the tribe had found it, the death decree was lifted, and the tribe went on to prosper. Still, there were significant difficulties to harvesting this fruit, just as its appearance on the modern American food scene would later be fraught with challenges.
Empty Promises and Bogus Claims — Acai Extract Scandals Exposed
Before we cover the difficulties Iaca’s tribe faced in harvesting acai and acai extract, let’s examine the much later the challenges associated with this fruit – namely the honesty (or lack thereof) in claims about it.
Whenever any salable good becomes as popular and high-profile as acai extract has, scams seem to pop up everywhere. So, naturally, acai has experienced its share of false claims.
What kind of false claims are we talking about here? Take a look at the following list and try remembering if you’ve heard these before:
1. Ludicrous Promises
One promise about acai extract is you’ll “lose 30 pounds in 30 days.” Losing 30 pounds in 30 days is not something acai can help you achieve. Man, or woman for that matter, cannot live on acai alone. Your diet should consist of a large variety of (preferably high-oxygen radical absorbency capacity) vegetables, high-quality meats, and a small quantity of fruit.
And you’ve heard us say it before if you’ve spent any time on this site: Exercise must be an integral part of your daily lifestyle. You must get moving to lose weight that you subsequently keep off. Whatever your weight, you simply cannot optimize your health without daily exercise. So find a form of exercise you enjoy and get started today.
Don’t fall for these promises that seem “out-of-this-world” good. Too-good-to-be-true is just that: too good to be true.
2. Inflated ORAC Values
Many companies tout acai as a “superfood” and claim ORAC values in the high thousands (or more). ORAC is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in biological samples.
Fact is, ORAC numbers can and do vary depending on harvesting conditions and your own body. Many companies multiply the ORAC numbers by 100 grams to make ORAC numbers appear higher than they really are (for the amount you’re ingesting).
Acai is truly a great food. But is it the only food you should eat? Absolutely not! It’s really not even at the top of the chart on ORAC values.
Many other foods have strong ORAC numbers too: red grapes, blueberries, raspberries, spinach, and many more. So strive for balance.
(If you do want to look at ORAC values, be sure the ORAC values you are comparing are per milligram, not per bottle of supplement or some other inflated measure!)
3. Obscure amounts of acai extract, use of other juices, and the use of cheap fillers
Pure acai is expensive; therefore, many products that contain acai use token amounts of acai and load up with cheaper juices or flavorings.
This affects not only the real ORAC value of the product, but also exactly how much acai extract you are actually consuming. Many times, it’s very difficult to tell how much that is.
Besides other juices, which may have lower nutritional value than acai’s, some products are contaminated with fillers of dubious value, like soy lecithin, citric acid, maltodextrin, or seeds. (Remember, seeds have no nutritional value.)
My advice is to steer clear of mixed products, because it’s so very difficult to really know what’s in them.
4. Questionable Marketing Practices
One popular marketing practice invites you to try out a “free” bottle of acai extract (whether capsules or liquid is irrelevant), then charges you “only” for shipping and handling.
You’re asked for your credit card number to cover shipping and handling. Hidden in the fine print is a statement that, by accepting the free offer, you’re authorizing a monthly auto-ship program and will charge $90 to your credit card every month.
Then comes the real rub: Unscrupulous companies make it difficult or almost impossible to stop the monthly charges. By the time you manage to get a “return authorization” from them to stop your payments and shipments you’ve lost several hundred dollars.
So be sure you know the history and integrity of the company you’re dealing with.
While price isn’t necessarily a scam, you should know that there are some prices that are out there in the stratosphere — way higher than the highest acai palm branch.
Acai is an imported product and is available in many forms, so comparing prices can be a bit like comparing apples to oranges. As already mentioned, there are products containing very little acai pulp and too many cheap fillers.
Some products, especially those marketed through multi-level marketing companies, have very steep monthly prices — like the above-mentioned $90 per month.
Despite the hype about acai extract and its high ORAC values, I still prefer Purple Defense as your best bet for high-ORAC antioxidants along with Resveratrol. And Purple Defense is what I personally use.
But now back to our Brazilian story.
Reaching the Sky to Capture the Fruit
What were the challenges Iaca’s tribe faced in harvesting acai?
The dark-purple berries now known as “acai” (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) grew in huge clusters near the top of palm trees that swept the sky. They were as high up as a dizzying 82 feet, with no branches to ascend on.
Certainly, picking them was no easy task.
But desperation has an amazing impact on motivation. And this jungle tribe found a way.
It’s not known exactly how they first harvested their new-found treasure, but it was likely brought down the same way it is today: Agile, brave men shimmy up the entire height of the acai palm, cut off a huge cluster, and bring it down. They repeat the process for each of many clusters.
No One’s Crying Now!
Acai moved from the obscurity of the rainforest to the cities of Brazil, where it quickly gained popularity.
It seemed just a small leap before its fame grew from Brazilian clubs to the entire world.
Just what caused a little-known jungle fruit to become such an international phenomenon?
What People Are Saying About Acai Extract, Acai Oil, and Other Acai Products
Açaí berries are small royal-purple berries about the size of a grape. They consist of a large seed and small amount of pulp and flesh surrounding the seed. No one eats the seed — it has absolutely no nutritional value.
On the other hand, the pulp is incredibly nutritious and delicious. The taste has been described as a fruity, red-wine flavor with chocolate overtones, but not too sweet. It is also highly perishable. So if you want it fresh you’ll have to travel to the Amazon during harvest season and be there within 24 hours of harvest to enjoy it.
More in a minute on how you can benefit from such a perishable food source — even if you’re thousands of miles from the Amazon.
Rest assured that if it was impossible to enjoy it so far from its source no one would be talking about it.
So why are so many raving about this fruit?
Tiny Berry Gives Huge Energy Boost
Hidden within the royal-purple skin of the acai berry is a “magical” nutritional profile that makes it a nearly perfect fruit.
Acai is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids, essential fatty acids — and more.
Acai’s Amazing Nutritional Profile
I think the “superfood” title is a bit overblown. As I already said, I still favor Purple Defense as my No. 1 antioxidant recommendation (especially with the added bonus of Resveratrol). Yet acai extract does indeed have an incredible nutritional profile and is a superb addition if you want to give variety to your antioxidant protection.
Antioxidants and Anthocyanins.
Acai has become recognized as one of the world’s highest ORAC foods.
ORAC is a lab measurement of how well antioxidants can neutralize free radicals in your body. The higher the value, the better your body utilizes it to fight the damaging effects of free radicals.
Acai has ten times the antioxidant levels of grapes and twice that of blueberries.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day. But the average person only gets about 1,000 units daily.
What are anthocyanins?
If you’ve seen a deep-purple plum, a bright-red apple, or deep-green spinach, you’ve seen anthocyanins. They are a particular class of flavonoids and represent nature’s “colors of the rainbow.”
But one of the biggest problems with acai is that it’s highly perishable.
How We Solved the Perishability Issue
As mentioned above, acai’s big downside is its extreme perishability. It must be freeze-dried, canned, or frozen, literally within hours of its harvest, or else it spoils. How it’s preserved affects how bioavailable it is for you.
The very best way to preserve all its life-giving goodness is to instantly freeze-dry the whole fruit (pulp plus juice — no seeds). Freeze-drying preserves the powerful antioxidants and omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9, which are found in their highest amounts in the berry’s skin and pulp, rather than in its juice….
[Editor’s Note: This article is a modification of the original as written by Hive Adviser Dr. Joseph Mercola and is republished in its present form with permission of the same; it has been slightly modified to adhere to HoneyColony’s in-house style and standards.]