You don’t have to look far before you’re inundated with ads or articles extolling the virtues of an acai berry juice diet plan or something similar. The acai berry, a South American fruit, resembles a grape but is reported to taste like a mix of berries and chocolate. The small purple berry has landed on a number of superfood lists because of the nutrients it contains, and fans of the acai berry diet claim it can lower cholesterol, burn fat at an accelerated rate, protect against allergies, prevent cancer and heart disease, and stop aging in its tracks. While it’s impossible for the diet to provide all of the benefits proponents says it does, acai can help in some areas.
Benefits of Acai Berries
The acai berry contains several nutrients found to be beneficial to your health. In addition to vitamins A and C, the fruit contains:
- Omega -3, -6, and -9
- Essential fatty acids (EFA)
Antioxidants help neutralize the potentially damaging effects of free radicals on cells. Studies indicate people who consume fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants have a lower risk of developing heart disease, neurological disorders, and some cancers. Essential fatty acids are needed by the body for proper functioning. Lack of EFAs has been linked to the development of several diseases, including osteoporosis, depression, and skin problems. Anthocyanin is a type of flavonoid with neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties that may improve depression, anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders, and possibly some cancerous conditions. A study conducted in 2006 found acai berry extract triggered the death switch in some leukemia cells, which was attributed to the presence of anthocyanin.
About the Diet
Contrary to its name, the acai berry diet is not a formally structured diet plan. Rather, people are only expected to supplement their existing diets with acai berry juice, pills, and other supplements containing the fruit. Marketing materials promoting these products claim the berry has properties that cause rapid weight loss. In reality, the only substance the fruit has that may help a person lose weight is fiber, which:
- Slows the digestive process so that you feel fuller longer
- Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
- Promotes more regular bowel movements
Acai berries are actually high in calories and fat. Other forms of the berry, such as juice, may be lower in calories, but such processing can eliminate some of the benefits associated with the fruit. Even while consuming acai berry products, you must follow a low-calorie diet and exercise program to successfully lose weight.
Consuming acai berry diet pills may net you the health benefits of the fruit, but it is highly unlikely they will help you lose weight alone. You are more likely to drop the pounds if you also reduce your daily calorie intake and participate in regular aerobic exercise. A healthy diet for weight loss should contain foods from all the main food groups. Here is a brief guide to foods you could incorporate into a healthy acai berry diet:
- Fruits: Apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, grapes
- Vegetables: Spinach, green peppers, broccoli, snap peas, carrots (Read about the health benefits of spinach)
- Lean Meats: Turkey, chicken, lean-cut beef
- Grains: Brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread
- Dairy: Low-fat milk, cottage cheese, yogurt
Sample Diet Menu
- Breakfast: Scrambled egg whites, oatmeal, nonfat milk
- Snack: Raspberries
- Lunch: Skinless chicken breast, baked potato, steamed broccoli
- Snack: A pear
- Dinner: Whole grain pasta tossed in flaxseed oil, mixed vegetables, nonfat milk (Read about the health benefits of flax seed)
- Snack: Fat-free, sugarless chocolate pudding
- Take an acai berry supplement according to directions
- Breakfast: Cereal, nonfat milk, melon chunks
- Snack: Carrot and celery sticks with dip (Read about the health benefits of carrots)
- Lunch: Tuna packed in a wheat pita pocket, raw vegetables with fat-free dressing, nonfat milk
- Snack: Whole wheat crackers
- Dinner: Whole wheat tortilla filled with beans and avocado, raw vegetable medley, nonfat milk
- Snack: Orange
- Take an acai berry supplement according to directions
- Breakfast: One slice of French toast, strawberries, poached egg
- Snack: Acai blueberry smoothie
- Lunch: Steamed shrimp over raw spinach, corn, fat-free dressing
- Snack: Unsweetened applesauce
- Dinner: Pork chops, winter squash, mixed vegetables
- Snack: Frozen grapes
Acai Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
- 7 ounces of frozen unsweetened acai pulp
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- 1 cup of mango juice
- 1 medium banana, diced
- 1 tablespoon of agave nector
- Blend all of the ingredients together until smooth.
The potential acai berry diet side effects you may experience depend on the manner in which you consume the fruit. The berries themselves are like any other fruit and are not particularly harmful unless you over consume or are allergic to them. Eating too many acai berries can increase bleeding and blood pressure. The berry may aggravate some liver conditions, so you should consult with a doctor prior to eating them if you have a problematic liver. Raw juice made from the berries has been linked to an outbreak of American trypanosomiasis disease. Unless you live in a country where acai berries are produced, however, it’s highly unlikely you will come into contact with the fruit or raw juice because the berries do not travel well. The acai berry diet pills Walmart and other retailers sell are what you’ll probably use, and the added ingredients they contain can cause health complications.
Some acai berry pills, juices, and supplements contain added ingredients that can be harmful to health. Some symptoms associated with the consumption of these products include diarrhea, nausea, headache, stomach ache, and allergies. Some manufacturers will add caffeine to the supplement to supposedly increase its fat-burning power and suppress the appetite. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, then you should avoid these supplements.
Final Notes on the Acai Berry Diet
There are many acai berry diet reviews claiming there is an acai berry diet Oprah recommends or an acai berry diet Rachael Ray used to lose weight. None of those claims are true. Several companies are being sued by these and other celebrities because the companies falsely claimed their products were endorsed by them. If you chose to follow the acai berry diet, be certain to source products from reputable manufacturers. It’s also a good idea to talk to a doctor first to ensure those products are safe for you to use.