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    Archive for the ‘acai’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Mona Vie

    I was at a cocktail party the other day with women in their late 30s all RAVING about [an acai berry juice blend called] Mona Vie.

    [They said] they give it to their kids and their whole families; [some referred to it as] their miracle drink.

    Do you know anything about it?

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    Of course they were raving about it and throwing the word “miracle” around — Mona Vie is sold through multi-level marketing!

    If they can convince you to become a customer, there’s some financial gain for them through distributor commissions.

    Although Mona Vie aggressively advertises the acai berry on their website (with vague statements like “scientific experts have referred to the açai berry as the most nutritious and powerful food in the world,”) it is one of nineteen fruits contained in the juice blend.

    They are, oddly enough, tight-lipped about just how much of their product is composed of acai berry juice: “The exact amount of açai, or of the other fruits, contained in our blend is not disclosed. This is considered one of the company’s greatest intellectual assets.

    Uh, okay.

    Look past the glossy website and attractive packaging and all you have is some very expensive ($50 a bottle!) fruit juice.

    Yes, acai berries are healthy, but so are all other fruits. Besides, if your general diet patterns aren’t healthy, no amount of acai is going to perform any sort of miracles.

    Save yourself the money and instead eat any of the many fruits available at your local supermarket.

    Remember — you’re always better off eating whole fruit than simply drinking juice.


    In The News: Exotically Expensive

    The Center for Science in the Public Interests’ Nutrition Action newsletter is one of my favorite publications.

    I received the January/February issue in the mail yesterday and wanted to share a “right on!” tidbit on exotic juices from a larger feature article on health claims and juice.

    The article begins by asking, want to make a million dollars?”

    It then instructs readers to “find an exotic fruit,” “turn it into juice,” attribute extraordinary healing powers” to it, and then “get Whole Foods to carry it and charge what the market will bear.

    This last point is expanded upon even further.

    “Don’t be shy. Start with four or five times what regular juices go for,” they advise.

    The article makes the excellent point that the antioxidants and phytochemicals billed so highly in these juices can be found in those of more conventional (and less expensive!) fruits’.

    Yes, I am aware that acai juice contains the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit.

    That alone, however, is not necessarily a testament to it being “healthier” or “better”.

    CSPI took a look at the research backing up these products and found that with both acai and goji berry juice, “not a single study published has looked at whether people who drink it are any healthier than people who don’t.

    As far as pomegranate juice is concerned, they refer to a preliminary study done by the University of California in Los Angeles in which 46 men consumed 8 ounces of pomegranate juice for three years.

    End result? 38 of them had their PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels — rising levels “can indicate a growing tumor” — slowed down.

    However, the folks at CSPI are quick to point out that “the study didn’t include a placebo group.” Oops!

    The article does not mention noni juice, another supposedly miraculous beverage that supposedly helps with everything from impotence to arthritis to Alzheimer’s, if you believe the press releases.

    No need to fork over $40 for a 32 ounce bottle, though, since no studies have shown any health benefits from drinking noni juice.

    Besides, I remember trying noni juice several years back and thinking I had accidentally poured myself a glass of red wine vinegar. It’s absolutely repulsive.

    If it is health benefits you seek, you’re better off biting into a real piece of fruit (anything from a peach to a blueberry to a kiwi or even a handful of goji berries — your choice!) than downing most store-bought juices.

    No matter how exotic, many contain added sugars.

    And, while some foods are certainly healthier than others (and offer unique combinations of key nutrients), I don’t believe in the concept of “miracle” foods.


    You Ask, I Answer: Acai

    What do you know about the acai palm/fruit?

    My light research suggests it is very healthy (i.e.: a lot of mono-unsaturated fats).

    Is it just as healthy as something like walnuts or an avacodo or would you regard the acai as being uniquely healthy?

    — Guy Betterbid
    New York, NY

    The acaí (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) fruit — native to Brazil, hailed by many as a “superfood”, and known within trendy circles as “the new pomegranate” — is rich in vitamins and minerals and a great source of fiber.

    It also offers a fair amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (mainly in the form of oleic acid) — the healthy fats found predominantly in olive oil, walnuts, and avocados.

    As great as the nutritional profile of acai berries is, remember that all fruits are healthy. There is no fruit equivalent to a bag of Oreos.

    While the acai beats out many of its counterparts in terms of antioxidants levels (which should not be the end-all, be-all criteria for selecting any food), other fruits offer more of certain vitamins and minerals.

    For instance, an orange contains more Vitamin C than an acai berry.

    Is acai nutritious? Absolutely.

    Is it a miracle food, as so many acai suppliers want you to believe? No.

    It is important to keep supposed “miracle foods” like acai berries in the appropriate context. After all, drinking acai juice while snacking on chips defeats the purpose.

    I find that it is better to focus on general eating patterns rather than getting hung up on one specific food.


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