The question is: are raspberry ketones just another health food quasi-scam, or is it really "the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat" per Dr. Mehmet Oz?
The Rise and Fall of Acai Berry
Remember acai berry, the ultra-hyped extract of a violet-hued berry from a Brazilian palm species? Marketers claimed that acai's antioxidants provided a near-endless plethora of wellness benefits including:
- weight loss
- anti-aging properties
- lowered cholesterol and triglycerides
- killing cancer cells
- possible reversal of diabetes
On TV, Dr. Oz flogged acai berry as "one of my most favorite superfoods of all time," adding "Among acai’s many antioxidants is one particular powerhouse called anthocyanin, which is suspected to be the driving force behind acai’s free-radical and age-fighting powers."
The acai fad caught fire with Americans. ABC News reported in 2009:
"Today billion-dollar beverage giants, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch, are adding the fruit to their beverage lineups, according to The Wall Street Journal. It's also found in products from Stonyfield Farm and Haagen-Dazs. Procter & Gamble recently infused acai into its Herbal Essence shampoos and conditioners... Acai products are distributed through such stores as Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Jamba Juice... "A hipster website purred that "MonaVie's exceptional wellness and weight management products and business opportunities are changing lives around the world."
In my neighborhood, several friends and the woman next door made extra household money by selling MonaVie, an acai berry juice concoction in elegant wine bottles. A local shop was devoted to selling acai-fortified frozen yogurt.
But alas, the acai-berry house of cards imploded starting in 2008, when the Center for Science in the Public Interest fielded thousands of complaints about credit card fraud. The Center was already investigating the credibility of health benefit claims made by acai-berry sellers, particularly by Utah-based multi-level marketing company MonaVie. Per Wikipedia:
Newsweek and several newspapers "commented on the use of misleading promotional testimonials by MonaVie distributors in which the product was said to prevent and treat a variety of medical conditions." Newsweek "noted that the FDA warned MonaVie about medicinal claims on its Web site in reference to the Food and Drug Administration's action against MonaVie distributor Kevin Vokes in July 2007...Vokes had promoted MonaVie as a drug... by claiming that it was effective for treating inflammation, high cholesterol, and muscle and joint pain."In 2009, the Illinois Attorney General filed against local acai berry supplement sellers, and Oprah and Dr. Oz sued more than 50 internet sellers of acai berry products. In 2010, the FTC sued an acai berry pill maker for false claims of weight loss and cancer prevention.
Today, it's widely acknowledged that "there are no scientifically controlled studies providing proof of any health benefits from consuming açaí. No açaí products have been evaluated (in the United States) by the FDA, and their efficacy is doubtful. Specifically, there is no scientific evidence that açaí consumption affects body weight, promotes weight loss or has any positive health effect."
Are Raspberry Ketones the New Acai Berry?
Raspberry ketone is defined as "a natural phenolic compound that is the primary aroma compound of red raspberries. It is used in perfumery, in cosmetics, and as a food additive to impart a fruity odor."
The question is: are raspberry ketones just another industrial food industry quasi-scam, or is it really the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat? Judge for yourself the claims and the known facts.
- "Japanese researchers reported in 2005 that raspberry ketone 'prevents and improves obesity and fatty liver,' by boosting the breakup of fat cells." (ABC News)
- "Korean researchers reported in 2010 that raspberry ketone increased fat cells' secretion of a hormone called adiponectin that regulates the processing of sugars and fats in the blood." (ABC News)
- "Raspberry ketone accelerates weight loss by eliminating the absorption of fat, increasing your metabolism, and by removing fat from the body cells to be burned. This allows your body to burn and melt away fat much faster than you other wise would." (RaspberryKetoneBenefits.org)
- "Pure Raspberry Ketones controls your appetite, boosts metabolism and burns fat without the side effects associated with most diet pills." (NutraBio.com)
"When given to mice in very high doses (up to 2% of body weight), raspberry ketone has been shown to prevent high-fat-diet-induced elevations in body weight. However, no effects on body weight were observed with doses up to 200 times greater than the estimated intake in humans. The high dose effect is reported to stem from the alteration of lipid metabolism, increasing norepinephrine-induced lipolysis. Although products containing this compound are marketed for weight loss, there is no clinical evidence for this effect in humans." (Wikipedia)Best advice:
Eat real food, not fake food or fake food supplements. If you want the health benefits of raspberries, eat raspberries, fresh or frozen.
Why buy over-priced, over-hyped, real food-substitutes when the real deal... in this case, raspberries... are freely available? Unless, of course, your goal is to fatten the coffers of the modern industrial food industry.