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Acai No Longer Flavor of the Month

March 11, 2009: 01:13 AM EST
Debate over the benefits of acai products is heating up, with both scientists and consumers lining up on both sides of the “is it good for you?” argument. Several celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Rachel Ray, have distanced themselves from health claims, and even the maker of a successful range of products containing acai, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, “is looking into claims made by companies using his image to market products he does not endorse”. Stephen T. Talcott, associate professor of food chemistry at Texas A&M University, says there is no scientific research to support claims that acai contributes to weight loss. Two studies published in the September 2008 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry indicated that the antioxidants found in acai berries were absorbed by the body, but were not large enough to prove health benefits. Consumers are complaining about being ripped off by online free trial offers, saying they’re being charged for the products even after they canceled the trial, and some say they didn’t lose weight while taking the product. The Center for Science in the Public interest is advising people not to take part in online "free trials" of acai, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says he will begin investigations into the complaints.
ABBY ELLIN, "Pressing Açaí for Answers", The New York Times, March 11, 2009, © The New York Times Company
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