I’m often asked about açai, the latest miracle fruit that is supposed to cure whatever ails you.
If this is a miracle, it’s one that must be enjoyed by the company that makes MonaVie brand açai, which sells for about $40 a bottle. I had heard about açai and was not overly impressed. But then I got an e-mail from a MonaVie enthsiast who was so convinced of its benefits that he sent me the research…
Here’s one of the studies. It looks formidible but its conclusions are simple. In translation: MonaVie contains antioxidants. The antioxidants in MonaVie act like antioxidants in the test tube and in the body, and they work better than potato starch, which has no antioxidants. Why am I not surprised? This is a study sponsored by the manufacturer.
You can read about this study and the rest of fuss over this juice in the March 12 New York Times. It’s in the Style Section (where else?). The bottom line: all juices have antioxidants and most are a lot cheaper than MonaVie.
As for weight-loss claims: This month’s Nutrition Action Healthletter explains how to analyze Internet advertising, using açai as an example of truth-bending.
Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and Professor of Sociology at New York University. Her degrees include a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition, both from the University of California, Berkeley.
She is the author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism and What to Eat.
Her most recent book is Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, published by University of California Press in 2008.
You can read her Food Politics blog here:
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