Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Michael Liebman

Abstract

This review of the miscommunication between the media and scientific nutritional researchers focused on the marketing of the acai berry (Euterpe Oleracea). Through comparing news stories from mainstream media outlets such as Oprah, Fox News and CNN with scholarly articles, the researcher was able to examine several of media’s claims more in depth. The acai berry had slightly above average antioxidant concentrations with below average human absorption of anthocyanins and catechins, it’s two main antioxidants. It had an apoptotic effect on several different types of cancer in vitro; this effect cannot be extrapolated to a human model. Evidence suggests that acai reduces reactive oxygen species, increases the total antioxidant capacity and may even improve the function of HDL in a human model. There are no major negative side effects of consuming the berry itself but due to the lack of regulation in the nutrition industry, there are often unwanted and dangerous products added to acai products. The researcher concluded that acai would be more beneficial to the public if it were sold as a nutritional medicine rather than a diet fad. To achieve this, setting up better lines of communication between scientists and reports would be essential. This could be achieved through systems such as Nutritionally Aware or Up-To-Date. Doing so would allow for researchers to present their findings to the mainstream media rather than having journalists sift through research papers.

Comments

The researcher found no conflicts of interest in the paper.

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