Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don't Get Caught Up in the Berry Hype

Chances are you have heard about goji berries and acai berries. These two little berries have been touted as the greatest of the"superfoods" everywhere from the internet to magazines and radio ads. They have been associated with claims about improved digestion, weight loss, improved immune function, improved eyesight, and longevity. But are they really as "super" as they seem? Maybe not.

Like many other fruits, goji berries are a rich source of vitamin C, carotenoids, and other antioxidants. In animal and test tube studies, goji berries have been shown to have antioxidant, and immune-enhancing properties. However, research involving actual humans and goji berry consumption has been very sparse and poorly executed. The acai berry research is equally inconclusive. Most of the studies on acai have also been done in test tubes and on animals.

Despite the lack of evidence for the all of the claims for these two berries, there is no doubt that berries in general (blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.) are a healthy addition to your diet. They are naturally high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and manganese. While there is not much harm in eating the goji or acai berries if you like the taste of them (except that they are VERY expensive), it is important to remember that variety is a key to good nutrition. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, instead of relying solely on one type of berry's contributions, will provide you with the healthy plant fiber; vitamins; minerals and antioxidants that you need. In fact, research has shown that the "synergistic" effect of eating many different kinds of fruits and vegetables every day (and not "putting all of your eggs in one berry" so to speak) is very valuable indeed.

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