"Acai: Little Berry Shows Big Growth"

The "Natural Products Insider" wrote a very informative article on the business of Acai. Read it here. It also does a good job summarizing it's nutritional content, how it's harvested and what that means to saving the Amazon, and so on. It's interesting to see just how new the Acai berry is to the US market. $3.8 million in sales during the 12 months ending November 3rd, 2005 vs. only $435,000 in sales the prior year. That is explosive growth, and still most American's haven't even heard of it yet. Pass this blog and the above article around... it's definitely something worth sharing.

Not all Acai created equal

Acai is the world's most potent source of antioxidants (oxidative damage is thought to cause disease and aging - antioxidants are thought to be a disease preventer, and anti-ager).

ORAC is the most popular antioxidant measurement and studies show the Acai berry is about 10 to 20 times higher in ORAC value compared to other berries like Blueberry which were at one time thought to be the highest in antioxidant properties.

But apparently this does not mean you can just buy any Acai drink, powder or supplement. According to one scientific comparison (discussed in This article), MOST commercial Acai products are severly depleted in comparison to a recently picked berry.

Acai berries begin losing their nutrient value soon after being picked. In one study only one Acai product ranked high on the ORAC scale at 1026. This Acai product has a trademarked name, "OptiAcai". Other commercially produced Acai products averaged 155 on the scale. 155 is still good in comparison to blueberries which are only a 24 per Gram on the ORAC scale, but if you're paying a premium price for Acai, you ought to expect a premium product. OptiAcai ranks a 1026 on the ORAC scale. That is 7 times higher.

This article explains the study. So just don't buy just any Acai product, they are definitely not all created equally. If you buy some juice found in your neighborhood health food store, and Acai is listed as one of the ingredients, the chances are that Acai is only a small part of the juice, and the Acai used is 7 time less potent than OptiAcai.


The cost of eating 168 servings of fruit every 4 weeks

168 servings of fruit every 4 weeks is 6 servings per day. Yikes.

The USDA recommends 5 to 7 fruit servings... by the way, a serving according to them is 6 ounces - about the size of a small piece of fruit. At one point I tried juicing and bought an expensive juicer. I found it cost me a ton to buy a variety of fruits, and I'd invariably let some of it spoil by not getting to it in time. Eventually the sheer headache of the mess and clean up was too much and I gave up on my juicing fad. But however you attempt to consume 5 to 7 servings of fruit per day, I thought it would be interesting to take a second look into the cost.

I visited and shopped their Produce section online for a wide variety of fruits, and for the cheapest option for each fruit. For example, I chose Apples in bulk at $0.80 per pound, and then assumed I'd only eat 6 ounces or 30 cents worth of apples when I had a serving. I found 23 fruits, and just averaged the cost of all of them to insure a variety if I were to do this for real. Despite apples being 30 cents per serving, oranges at 24 cents and grapefruit at 23 cents, the average cost of a serving was $1.16. The most nutrient-dense fruits were the most expensive, including blueberries at $4.08 per serving, pomegranate at $2.99 and blackberries at $2.16 per serving. Finally, I took these 3 expensive ones out, and the average of the remaining 20 fruits was $0.87 per serving.

By averaging the 5 to 7 servings per day recommendation to 6, I calculated the more expensive daily cost at $6.95 per day, and the less expensive version at $5.23 per day. Now you shouldn't stop eating the fruit you already do just because you're adding a nutrient-dense fruit juice. But since the USDA says we Americans eat less than 1 serving per day, I'll be kind and calculate that you'd only need to add 5 more servings of the cheaper fruits, and that's $4.36 per day to reach the recommended amount of fruits.

So.... my choices are... spend an additional $4.36 on fruit... and either juice them, or always have a piece of fruit in my mouth. Or drink a premium grade Acai based nutrient-dense fruit juice with no mess or fuss. I never ate fruit before (other than my juicing experiment a few years ago) - so I'm worse than the 1 per day, so my choice was an easy one. For me to get fruit in my diet.... and extremely nutrient-dense fruits with significant variety at that, multi-fruit juice blends are an easy choice for me.


Help the rainforest

You can actually help the Amazon rain forest and global warming by buying Acai berry products. You see, locals harvest the Acai tree for the "heart of the palm" or palmito. This is actually the growing tip of the tree. With the tip removed the tree ultimately dies. Just a few years ago there was little to no market for the Acai berry as no one outside of the Amazon realized it's extreme nutrient density and ORAC value. So smart Acai based juice companies help the Amazon by paying the locals significantly more for harvesting the Acai berries only if they left the hearts of palm intact.


Is this woman bananas?

The woman in this article eats 21 different fruits per week. No, she's not bananas, she is a breast cancer survivor and has heard that fruits can play a role in preventing cancer. If we all ate that much fruit there wouldn't be a need for a multi-frut drink. Then again, her variety of fruits is probably not as nutrient-dense as Acai, and the other powerful fruits only found in these latest juice blends.

Plus, given the loss of nutrients in the mass produced fruits most people eat, the 21 different fruits may also be depleted unless she's eating organic fruits. Finally, since most studies and health experts say she should also be eating 5 to 7 portions of these 21 different fruits each day.... that's a lot of bananas.

For some of us that's too much effort... shop for them, carefully select them, eat them before they spoil, etc. Just the sheer effort of eating that many fruits a day is too much for busy professionals or parents, and imagine getting children to eat that much fruit?

I only drink my nutrient-dense fruit juice... I've never eaten much, if any fruit. That isn't something I'm proud of, but it was my reality. And apparently the same is true of most American's since the average daily fruit consumption is less than 1 serving per day. In other words, MLM fruit juices are for everyone, and may also be beneficial addition to even this cancer survivor's diet. So don't go bananas... drink a nutrient-dense fruit juice instead.

Nutrient decline in fruits & vegetables

The news just gets more disturbing about our diets, even for those who think they eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Donald Davis at University of Texas at Austin (in the Biochemical Institute in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) studied nutrient values from 50 years of data from 1950 to 1999. Sure enough, nutrient value has declined significantly.

In this news release Dr. Davis said "The declines, which ranged from 6 percent for protein to 38 percent for riboflavin, raise significant questions about how modern agriculture practices are affecting food crops."

He continued.... "emerging evidence suggests that when you select for yield, crops grow bigger and faster, but they don’t necessarily have the ability to make or uptake nutrients at the same, faster rate."

You can read the full report here.

An obvious answer to these declines is to eat organically grown foods. Naturally grown foods don't use methods to increase yield that sap nutrients. And an even better answer is to consume the most nutrient-dense of all foods that are also organically or picked from the wild. This is the magic of nutrient-dense fruits like the Acai berry and Wolfberry which are ONLY found in the Wild. A fruit juice blend that contains fruits harvested from the wild can provide a superior amount of nutrients, so much so that you only need to drink a few ounces to get 100% of the antioxidants your body needs each day. Unfortunately, store bought fruits have become sad cousins to their 1950's cousins, and I don't see that changing any time soon.


Gel packs when you're traveling

Don't want to travel with a glass bottle full of your favorite nutrient-dense fruit juice? Hopefully they've got Gel packs. Whether you are traveling, or just need a convenient one serving size, Gel packs are a great choice.

But the value here is that you can pack these in a kids lunch box, take it to work, spread it onto your salad, or travel with it without having to worry about breaking a bottle. Personally, since I only do a shot in the morning, and one at night, taking it with me is only necessary when I travel. And so far I've packed the bottles in my suitcase trusting they won't break enroute. This coming holiday I shipped them ahead to my brother's house where I'll be staying... they get to try some, and I've got a bottle waiting for me when I arrive. But I'm off on a trip to Hong Kong and Thailand, so this time I'll bring Gel packs with me.