"Energy Drinks" a different category than multi-fruit juice-only drinks

I'm often asked to compare some Acai-based "Energy drink" to multi-fruit drinks that also have Acai. This is like comparing Apples to... well, caffeine. An "energy" drink is something like Red Bull or "RockStar". These are laced with caffeine and sugar and some synthetic supplements like B12. These are designed to give you a spike in energy. I've personally avoided these types of drinks because I enjoy coffee in the morning and don't want any more caffeine than that in my diet. I also avoid sugar at all costs.

Acai based beverages like Zola and Sambazon appear to be healthier alternatives to Red Bull, but they appear to be closer in style to the "energy drink" category than those drinks solely concerned with "health & wellness". For one, they always seem to include some additive or another... especially caffeine or sugar (Agave, a natural form of sugar, and Guarana a natural source of caffeine - but still sugar & caffeine - are very common in their blends). Acai is known as an "energy fruit" but these beverages apparently can't rely on their Acai content to insure a noticable energy spike, so they add caffeine and/or sugar which are what I call "stimulants". Stimulants spike energy unnaturally and personally have no place in my diet (other than my 1 cup of morning coffee :).

One designed as a health drink... NOT something to spike your energy so you can gamble late into the night in Las Vegas, or ski in Tahoe with a hangover is meant only to fight free radicals, to add plant-based phytonutrients, polyphenols, anthocyanins and antioxidants which aid long-term energy and health. Honestly, I'm glad to have products like Zola around if I want an energy spike since I'd rather get it from a healthier source than Red Bull or coffee.

But if you think you can replace a multi-fruit drink with an Acai-only product, or an Acai-based "energy drink", then you are completely missing the point described in all fruit research. Drink for your overall health, not for a few hours of forced energy that may result in a sugar-high like crash.

(update: see the "comments" exchange beneath this post for more on my thoughts on an even better Acai-only replacement if you want more Acai in your diet)


Anonymous said...

your info about Sambazon Acai is incorrect..they produce pure acai frozen packets and acai juice drinks without any energy-type additives...also, their products contain the highest amount of acai than any other company...just read the labels!

This site's author said...

Actually my information is correct, and I've just RE-read the labels. First, Sambazon has several blends, and they all contain one additive or another. So please take your own advice before posting. I don't put anything on my blog without doing some basic research.

"Agave" is a natural sugar. That is one of many Sambazon additives. "Soy Lectin", another, is something that many, many people are allergic to and many say everyone should avoid completely, and appears to be in most Sambazon products. And the whole world seems to know that "Guarana" is added to beverages for its caffeine.

Now to your other odd claim... what and where on the label do you see ANY mention of the amount of Acai? And how many of the other Acai based products have you compared Sambazon to? Bossa Nova for one says they have the most Acai, so that's at least two of you making that claim... and I know there are many other Acai drinks who claim THEY have the most Acai... yet NONE of you have any proof. So... have you read all of the labels of all of the Acai based drinks? Start reading, there a lot of them.

But quality of Acai is another important consideration... if my Acai is 5 times better than yours, then I can have 1/4 the amount yet deliver more nutrients. So, what is the quality of the Acai in Sambazon products? Bossa Nova has 167 ORAC on their bottles for their Acai... that's good compared to Cranberry, but very poor for Acai since the fruit off the tree is over 1,000 in ORAC per gram. So what is the ORAC score of the Acai in Sambazon? Come on now, back up your claims!!!

But back to the original idea behind my post. Acai is a wonderful berry, but ALL of the research proves that the healthiest diets are made up of a full spectrum of colored fruits... red, green, yellow, etc. Hence my belief that you should be consuming multi-super fruit blends, not just Acai, and not just 2 or 3 other fruits. And personally, I don't want more sugar (Agave) or caffeine (Guarana) in my diet... so Sambazon is not for me.

Finally, I'm not willing to roll the dice when it comes to quality, ORAC value and nutritional content of the Acai in some generic store bought Acai product who only makes "marketing hype" statements without anything to back it up. One powder for of Acai called OptiAcai is the most thoroughly tested and researched Acai to make it out of Brazil... when other Acai was tested along side it, they came in at 1/4 to 1/5 it's ORAC score. So find an OptiAcai based drink, and you know you're getting the best Acai quality.

I also recently tried several versions of Sambazon and was really disappointed with the taste and the consistency. Now that's a matter of personal preference and taste, so you may have to try it yourself... but for more Acai... I'm still looking for a substitute... for now... I drink 4 ounces of MonaVie "Active" every day, and when I feel like I need a boost, I drink a couple of ounces of the "Original" MonaVie blend simply because I don't want to add any more glucosamine and esterified fatty acids than I'm already getting.