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Q&A: The juice on acai berries

Consumer Reports News: January 23, 2009 11:31 AM

I’ve seen antioxidant-rich juices made from acai berries (Bossa Nova, Mona Vie) promoted as cure-alls on TV shows and in health-food stores. Is there any evidence to support these claims? —D.E.P., Sutton, Mass.

Not very much. Several studies have found that juice from the berries—which come from a South American palm tree—has very high antioxidant levels. But we couldn't find any studies measuring whether acai has any direct effect on human health. Moreover, while many observational studies have linked a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, there's no solid evidence that focusing on any individual antioxidant-rich food will lower your risk in any meaningful way.

And it may be harmful in certain cases: Pomegranate juice is packed with antioxidants, but it may also interact with several medications. An additional caveat: While fruit juices can be high in antioxidants, they tend to contain a lot of sugar and calories, and virtually no fiber. So enjoy them in moderation—or better yet, opt for the whole fruit, which provides antioxidants and fiber with fewer calories.

Read more on how to fit more antioxidants into your diet, and click on our Natural Medicines Interaction Checker (subscribers only) to find out if pomegranate juice interacts with your medications.

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