Monday, January 10, 2011

Acai - Freeze Dried Vs Spray Dried, Why Does it Matter to Your Health?

The Acai berry is all the rage right now. Different companies are getting their hands on it and making it into their own distinct product. Some are of amazing quality and some... not so much. Some companies try to save money buy doing cheap processing which compromise the nutrition from the berry; while other company's prices are a direct reflection of the quality of the product-- there are some products that are worth the money.

The main distinction between high quality and low quality is how the acai is dried. The berries, which are native to the Amazon, have to be dried within 48 hours to retain high nutrient quality. If this process is overlooked, the nutrient content greatly diminishes. The berries are then juiced and pulped and can either be spray dried or freeze dried.

Dried Fruit

Spray drying is a process which uses heat, which kills the natural enzymes in the acai. In this process, maltodextrin is added as a stabilizer. This process also does NOT retain nutrient content very well because of the heat and evaporation to get it into the liquid state before freezing. Most acai products are unfortunately processed this way because it is much CHEAPER.

Freeze drying, on the other hand, uses absolutely no heat. It is dried by a process called sublimation. It is described very well by Dr. Alex Schauss, PhD, FACN, in a book called "Acai: An extraordinary anti-oxidant rich palm fruit."

"Freeze drying is a process in which water is removed as vapor directly from ice, without passing through a liquid state. This process is called sublimation, and requires reduced pressure to occur. All other drying methods use evaporation; that is, water is removed as liquid vapor from liquid water with heated air. Freeze dried acai does not require heat in the sublimination process"

The following are reasons why freeze drying is superior to spray drying:

o Retains 90-99% ORIGINAL NUTRIENT CONTENT (depends on product)
o Freeze dried acai will have 10 times the antioxidant power than spray dried acai and other antioxidant rich fruits
o Retains original color, form, size, taste, texture
o Retains enzymes because no heat is used
o Reconstitutes to original state when placed in water
o Low water activity eliminates microbial growth

Although freeze drying produces a product that is of much higher quality, it is more expensive to produce than spray dried products. The price of the product WILL reflect the quality. If you buy your acai from the grocery store and you're paying for a bottle of juice, or a bottle of pills, it is spray dried and contains 1/10th of the antioxidant power of freeze dried acai. On the other hand, if you buy your acai from a freeze dried distributor at a bottle, you are getting a product made with 10 times the antioxidant power of spray dried acai and is MUCH higher quality than the bottle sold for . Some acai products will also contain other fruits from around the world, which does contribute to the price and the nutritional content of the drink.

There are so many different products out there containing acai, all making the same health claims. Remember that they are all NOT created equal; how the acai is handled from the moment it is picked off the tree is just as important as the drying process. The bottom line is this: price will reflect quality. When it comes to your health opt for 'Bloomingdales' not 'K-mart.'

Acai - Freeze Dried Vs Spray Dried, Why Does it Matter to Your Health?

As a Trainer, Massage Therapist and Nutritionist, I look at the body from a few different angles and seeing it as a whole, rather one part. Exercise with proper form and technique keeps your body strong and young. In part, CrossFit, which consists of all functional movements at high intensity are even more beneficial than normal gym workouts. I use Massage Therapy in conjunction with training to balance the body; making weak muscles strong and getting tight muscles to relax. It takes experience and the right training to be able to identify these patterns. Finally, I use nutrition to make sure my clients are going to get the best possible results from their efforts, as well as live a long healthy life. I am a believer in the Paleo Diet, a.k.a. the Caveman diet. Approaching the body from these angles and seeing each person as an individual with its own needs is what I specialize in.

I received my degree from the University of Florida in Food Science and Human Nutrition in 2008. I then attended the Florida School of Massage for my Massage License. I am CrossFit certified, and CrossFit Nutrition certified. Please visit my company's website at for more information.

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