Antioxidants, have you heard of them? Of course you have. They’re talked about relentlessly in the media, and as a beauty editor, I too bang on about them almost daily.
But, like any buzzword that makes its way into the language of everyday consumers, its only a matter of time before some quick thinking marketing cowboy comes along wanting to make a quick buck. Unfortunately for us, this now means that the organic, natural and health food markets are being inundated with clever new quick-fixes that we all the need to get our hands on if we want to be healthier, age slower and run faster.
The latest ingredient mixed up in all this mess is Acai (pronounced Ass-ah-hee) and is credited to preventing cancer and helping you ‘drop 2 dress sizes in 2 weeks’ as one ad promises. Known as a superfruit, Acai is believed to hold strong antioxidant properties, and while I’m not denying these statistics, I am questioning how big a part marketing plays here.
According to ORACValues.com, an online antioxidant datasbase, Acai has less than half the antioxidant value of spices such as cloves and cinnamon. Interesting, right? Too right. As a fruit (there’s debate over whether it’s a berry or not), the Acai holds an antioxidant score of 102,700 μ mol TE/100g, while cloves are recorded at having an anitoxidant level of 314,446 μ mol TE/100g. That’s about three times the level, if you’re wondering.
After quizzing my local organic store about the fruit, and asking if they supplied it, I was told that finding a reputable supplier of the product is actually very hard. You see, Happies, Acai tastes like dirt, so to make it more palatable many suppliers stretch it with banana. This dilutes the power of the fruit, and basically makes a mockery of the whole industry. You think you’re buying ‘pure’ Acai, but really, you’re buying a watered down version that’s jammed with banana to make it taste better.
Now, I’m not saying all Acai is like this, but what I am saying is that as consumers we need to make sure we don’t fall into the slippery palms of those marketing genuises and believe everything we read and make smart purchasing decisions when it comes to what we put in our mouths.
That said, there is one great positive of the Acai boom and that’s for the residents of the Amazon jungle, where the fruit is harvested. Since Orpah and Dr Oz raved about the stuff, they have seen a rapid increase in demand, allowing them to make good profits from the sale of their purple little fruit. And for that, I’d be happy to slip off a few palms every now and then. Wouldn’t you?
Tell me Happies…
Have you tried Acai?
Do you believe the hype?
Do you think it’s a marketing sham?