Ask the Doc :: The miracle berry?
Dear Doctor Jason,
My mother keeps pushing this Acai berry drink on me. OK, so what gives. Is this a miracle drug? She claims it lowered her cholesterol, cured her heart disease and more. Frankly, the stuff tastes awful, so I’d rather not have to drink it, but as long as she can claim it’ll cure all my ills she’ll never stop. Help!
Signed, What the hell?
Doctor Jason’s Response:
The acai berry has enjoyed a huge wave of American fashion over the past couple of years: it is the cornerstone to its own fad diet, it is available pre-mixed in an alcohol, it is blended with other fruits in several commercial smoothies and shakes. Its benefits to your health are due to the fact that it has antioxidants, which are essential for your immune system in its ability to fight off certain illnesses and repair damage to your cells.
The acai berry, however, does not have the highest level of antioxidants compared to other fruits, so it should not be considered to be "the best" one out there. Also, scientifically speaking, there have been no successful studies showing that it does have a significant impact on certain diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Is your mom wrong in touting this as the cure for everything? Yes, but adding it to your normal diet will not harm you in any way, unless you have an allergy to the fruit.
Dr. Faulhaber is a graduate of Tulane University in Psychology and Cellular and Molecular Biology and received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He performed his residency training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where he then served as a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine. He completed his fellowship in Infectious Diseases at New York University, where he specialized in HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and fungal infections. Since fellowship, he has been working as an Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases physician at Fenway Community Health in Boston. He is a Clinical Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and he is affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has been the lead author or co-author of several journal articles and textbook chapters on infections with HIV, other viruses, bacteria, and fungi. He is also accredited by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.
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