It seems to be everywhere you look. Giant SUVs plastered with the purple logo. Postcards on the counter at the gym. Widespread hype for a $39 bottle of juice that proponents claim to be a “health miracle in a bottle.”

MonaVie is one of the hottest nutritional products right now, and it comes with health claims that are as numerous as its many neighborhood distributors. But this product could not only drain your wallet, it could harm your health.

The alleged benefits of MonaVie come from its “high level of antioxidants,” which, according to the company, are primarily derived from acai (the fruit of a palm tree). But go to MonaVie’s website and see if you can find the ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbancy Capacity) of their product. Nope. How about just finding out how much acai is in the blend? No again. The company states: “Because MonaVie product formulas are proprietary, the extract amount of acai or other fruits in our blend is not disclosed.”

The Dangers of Drinking Monvie
While MonaVie does not disclose specific amounts, they are required by law to disclose their ingredients. And on this list, you will find the preservative sodium benzoate. You may remember the ETR article by my husband Jon that described how benzene forms when sodium benzoate interacts with vitamin C in the presence of light or heat (i.e., pasteurization). And MonaVie is heat-pasteurized.

Benzene is an aggressive carcinogen, even in minute amounts. And science shows that it can cause severe damage to mitochondria, the power station of your cells. Not exactly a “health miracle in a bottle,” if you ask me.

Another not-so-sweet tidbit you may want to consider before you jump on the MonaVie bandwagon is the amount of sugar in the blend – six grams per ounce. Drink the “recommended” four ounces a day, and you’re downing 24 grams of sugar (mainly fructose). That’s a recipe for a blood sugar spike.

Antioxidants are an essential part of a healthy diet, and one of the keys to aging gracefully and preventing disease. That’s why Jon and I stay well-stocked with the best organic sources. Here are a few that we always have on hand. They are ORAC chart-toppers according to the government’s 2007 Agricultural Research Service report:

  • blueberries (6,552 ORAC)
  • blackberries (5,347 ORAC)
  • red beans (8,459 ORAC)
  • black beans (8,040 ORAC)
  • artichokes (9,221 ORAC)
  • cocoa powder (an astounding 82,000 ORAC)

We even like to add some unsweetened acai (3,800 ORAC) to our Organic Cocoa Berry smoothies every once in a while.

To enjoy the benefits of acai, try Sambazon Organic Acai Smoothie Packs. You can find them in the freezer case at your local health food store for about $2 each. With zero grams of sugar and no preservatives, this is a smarter and safer way to include a superfood in your diet… hype, spike, and benzene free.

[Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the founder and CEO of Healing Gourmet (www.healinggourmet.com), and is editor-in-chief of the Healing Gourmet book series. Learn more about how simple lifestyle choices can improve your health by reading ETR’s free natural health e-letter.]

Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet – a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. As a young adult, Kelley battled a debilitating health condition that went misdiagnosed by multiple doctors for more than a year. Finding no help from “modern medicine”, she turned to her own knowledge of biochemistry and her passion for health research. She soon learned that her symptoms were related to nutrition and within weeks, she charted a course back to health with nothing more than simple lifestyle changes and the power of the plate. The lessons she learned spawned the creation of Healing Gourmet.
Kelley is a firm believer in vigorous exercise, moderate sun exposure and delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet’s Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility.