Acai and Super-fruit Juice Comparisons
Mark Wyatt, July 2008
Six high antioxidant super-fruit juice products were taste tested and analyzed for ORAC score and cost. All the products are touted as having high antioxidant contents. In addition to the six, I added Welch's grape juice, which is not marketed as a high end antioxidant juice, does have good antioxidant properties for the cost. The six products are (with links to individual reviews):1. Bossa Nova Superfruit Acai Juice (original)
2. Sambazon Acai Antioxidant Superfood
3. Bom Dia Acai Berry Pomegranate
4. Bom Dia (Kirkland)Acai-Blueberry
5. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
6. R.W. Knudsens Organic Concord Grape
Since anti-oxidants are one of the main points for these beverages, anti-oxidant comparisons were made based on the juice's ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity). ORAC is one of the most used gauges of laboratory determined anti-oxidant strength of foods and food products. The individual reviews contain information on:
ORAC per gram of sugar, ORAC per calorie, and ORAC/dollar of cost. The parameters are compared in the following figures. All the figures were compared to the stated value fo Monavie (5000 ORAC per 4 ounces). All the other products ORAC values came from (or were estimated based upon) Comparison of Antioxidant Potency of Commonly Consumed Polyphenol-Rich Beverages in the United States, Navindra P. Seeram, et. al., J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 1415–1422. See the individual reviews for the basis of each ORAC score.
All the products tested had good qualities. The ones picked are some of the most popular acai and super-fruit juice products available. Depending on what qualities are desired, some did better than others. Overall, the Bossa Nova
Super-Fruit Acai juice showed some of the best all around balance. It tasted very nice. It was low in sugar, low in calories, and and had one of the best ORAC scores (third after POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice, and MonaVie, which was not part of this test,
but used as a standard). And in addition, it was very reasonable in price.
I personally really like POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice, and most other people I have allowed to taste it did too. Even kids seem to like it (I gave it to four children aged 5 to 11, and they all loved it). Children also liked the Bom Dia Acai Berry Pomegranate Juice, but did not like the pure acai juices as much. I did not do comprehensive testing with the children, but thought it was worth noting. Of course the kids love Concord grape juice.
The Bom Dia products are scrupmtous. They have certainly cornered the market on taste. Some people may find them a little sweet, and this shows on their scores for ORAC nutrition. They still keep a good overall rating relative to MonaVie because the cost is reasonable.
I was a little surprised about the ranking of Sambazon Acai Anti-Oxidant Superfood, which was respectable, but did not excel in any category; though it came second after MonaVie for the ratio of Total Calories to Calories from Sugar, which is an indication it is more substantial than a sugary juice. It is likely one of the most "organic" of the bunch. It is made with few ingredients, mainly acai. It was not heavily modified to boost taste or appearance (in fact it was a little cloudy and brownish). But it is what it says on the label, and not much more. It does have a nice taste, but perhaps a little weak relative to the Bom Dias (this can be seen as a plus), and even the mellow Bossa Nova acai juice. Regardless of its overall scores, it will likely remain a favorite because it is what it is advertised to be- a simple acai smoothie.
ORAC per Gram of Sugar
Clearly Monavie takes a solid lead in terms of ORAC per gram of sugar. Bossa Nova is a reasonable second.
ORAC per Calorie
In terms of ORAC per calorie, Bossa Nova now has the lead, and Monavie comes in second. Keep in mind that some of Monavie's calories are useful fats like omegas 3, 6, and 9.
ORAC per Dollar of Cost
In terms of ORAC per dollar, welch's grape juice is hard to beat. This is a kid friendly anti-oxidant. For some adults, the extra sugar may be a problem, and truthfully, Concord grape juice does get boring after a while. Then again, if you are on a budget, this is one way to go. Few would be surprised that Monavie has dropped off the scale. At $45 per bottle, this is a very expensive source of anti-oxidants.
To facilitate comparisons based on a combination of ORAC and cost (and in one case some idea about other nutritional benefits), four indices were created:
1. A 1:1 comparison of ORAC nutrition and cost. ORAC nutrition is the geometric mean of ORAC per CALORIE from sugar (4xgrams of sugar) and ORAC per total calories divided by the value for Monavie. Cost is ORAC/dollar divided by the value for Monavie.
2. A ORAC nutrition weighted comparison where the ORAC nutrition portion is weight 3:1 to the cost portion.
3. A cost weighted comparison where the cost portion is weighted 3:1 to the ORAC nutrition comparison
4. Finally, a second nutrition index, which is the same as (2), except the result is multiplied by a "stuff" factor. The stuff factor is the square root of total calories divided by calories from sugar. The stuff ratio (total calories divided by calories from sugar) is also graphed.
Since Monavie was used as the comparative value, its parameters are shown here (for 25 ounce bottle at $45 retail). The information is from the document "MonaVie's Top 15 Frequently Asked Product Questions, 01/08, rev. 2.1"
Serving size: 4fl. ounces
grams fat: 2
sugars: 12 grams
dietary fiber: 3g
ORAC/serving = 5000
From that the following was calculated:
ORAC: 42.3 gram TE/ml (Back calc from Monavie)
ORAC/gram sugar = 416.7
Orac/calorie = 41.7
ORAC/$ = 705.6
What follows are the four indices for the six products:
Finally, here is the "stuff" ratio. This is the ratio of total calories to calories from sugar. A ratio of close to 1 indicates that this is a very sweet sugary drink, while a high ratio indicates that there is other "stuff" in the drink. Whether that stuff is all good requires additional investigastion. The square root of the ratio was chosen as the factor so as not to over emphasize the existence of "stuff". Since these drinks are often formulated by well intentioned people, often nutritionists, it is likley that much of the "stuff" in the higher ratio drinks is in fact good for you (i.e., the omegas, etc.).
Ratio of Total Calories to Calories from Sugar