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Are Acai Bowls Healthy?

Last updated date: 07-Jun-2022

CloudHospital

13 mins read

Acai bowls

Acai bowls are all the rage these days. They have become the new “superfood” on the market and have seemingly replaced juices and smoothies in popularity. Everyone has heard about their supposed benefits, but what are they really? Let's take a look at this trendy new food...

 

What’s an Acai Bowl?

An acai bowl is a serving of fresh fruit, typically a blend of acai and granola served in a bowl. Acai bowls can range in size and include additional ingredients such as chia seeds, peanut butter, coconut flakes, and much more depending on the flavor you desire. All Acai bowl ingredients are fresh and healthy making them a great snack or meal addition. They are a healthy, breakfast or snack option that's loaded with nutrition and antioxidants. Whether you make your own or grab one from an on-the-go cafe, acai bowls may be the meal of the moment in smoothie bowls and healthy eating circles.

 

What is the Acai Berry?

Acai Berry

Acai berries are native to Central and South America. They're harvested by hand in the Amazon region of Brazil, where they've been consumed for centuries. Acai berries were exported out of Brazil in the early 2000s and have become increasingly popular in the United States since then.

They are increasingly popular due to their high antioxidant content. The fruit itself is small and round with a purple-black color, but what makes it so special is that it contains up to 20 times more antioxidants than blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, 10 times more antioxidants than grape juice and twice as much calcium as milk! It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and potassium which make it an excellent food for maintaining good health. Other important nutrients include phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A and B complex vitamins including folic acid.

You can enjoy acai berries as fresh fruit, although they might be difficult to find as they are not always in season and have a short shelf life, as a worder, juice, puree, or pulp.

The nutritional values of one cup of acai pulp are presented below:

  • Calories: 150 calories
  • Total fat: 5 g (saturated fat: 0 g trans fat: 0 g monounsaturated fat: 4 g polyunsaturated fat: 1 g)
  • Carbohydrates: 30 g fiber: 12 g sugar: 2 g protein: 2 grams

 

How did Acai Berries become so popular?

Oprah first mentioned acai on her show in 2002 when she talked about how healthy she felt after eating a bowl of it every day while vacationing in Brazil. She also mentioned it again in 2009 when she was promoting her book "O" and discussed how much weight she had lost by eating acai bowls once a day. A few years later, frozen acai pulp became available at grocery stores across the country and soon after, people started making their own bowls at home using store-bought frozen acai or fresh berries from the grocery store or farmer’s market.

Since then, the popularity of acai has surged — especially among celebrities and health-conscious celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham. In fact, there are now more than 500 different products available on Amazon that contain this superfood!

 

What is the difference between an Acai bowl and a smoothie?

Acai bowl and a smoothie

Acai bowls are similar to smoothies but contain less sugar and more fiber than smoothies do. Plus, they're made with frozen acai pulp instead of ice cream or yogurt, which makes them healthier because they don't contain added sugar or fat.

Nutritional Value: Smoothies are made from blending fruits or vegetables with milk or yogurt, while acai bowls are made from blending frozen and fresh fruit with a thickener like banana or honey. Acai bowls nutritional value can slightly be improved as having more fiber and protein than smoothies because they're made from whole fruits and vegetables.

Protein: Smoothies contain about 2 grams of protein per serving, while frozen acai bowls have about 10 grams of protein per serving. This makes frozen acai bowls a better option for post-workout refueling or for anyone trying to increase their daily protein intake.

Calories: A standard smoothie can contain about 500 calories per serving, while an acai bowl calories go up to only 300 per bowl (depending on how much fruit is used). This makes smoothies slightly higher in calories than acai bowls, but both are considered healthy options if you're watching your weight.

Smoothies are typically thinner than acai bowls because they don’t contain any whole chunks of fruit — just puree. However, this also means they don’t have as much fiber as an acai bowl would contain (if you were using whole berries instead of just juice).

So, which one is better for you? That depends on your goals! If you want more fiber in your diet then an acai bowl may be better for you because it contains actual fruit pieces.

 

Are Acai Bowls healthy?

Acai bowls are not only delicious but also healthy! Check out these  acai bowls  health benefits:

  •   It can help you lose weight

Acai berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been shown to help decrease the body's production of cortisol (the stress hormone). Cortisol increases the amount of fat stored in our bodies, making it harder for us to lose weight. Moreover, antioxidants that may help protect your body against free radical damage caused by environmental toxins like cigarette smoke and air pollution.

  •   It helps fight inflammation

Acai berries are rich in polyphenols — plant chemicals that help protect against free radicals and improve your immune system function. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids (which reduce inflammation), vitamin C (which helps heal cuts and wounds), fiber (which keeps your digestive tract healthy), potassium (which lowers blood pressure) and protein

  •   It can lower your cholesterol levels

Acai berries also contain fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. A study published in 2013 showed that consuming acai juice every day for six weeks improved triglyceride levels by 42 percent compared to those who consumed a placebo drink instead. This finding suggests that acai berries could be beneficial for people with high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia), although further research is needed before we know for sure whether this.

 

Can you make an Acai bowl at home?

Acai bowl at home

Definitely! The best part about making an acai bowl at home is that you can customize it however you want. If you like nuts and chocolate chips, add them! If you hate bananas, leave them out! The possibilities are endless when it comes to this breakfast treat.

These bowls are also great because they freeze really well so if you make a big batch in advance you can pop one in the microwave whenever you get hungry throughout the week.

Here are some tips on how to make acai bowls at home:

  1. Find a good acai berry product. The best products are frozen, not dried. If you can't find frozen berries, go ahead and use dried ones — just soak them in water overnight before using them in your bowl.
  2. Choose your toppings wisely! You'll want to use fresh fruit for your toppings, but don't feel limited by what's available in your area or seasonally available. You can always freeze some of your favorite fruits so that they're always on hand for acai bowls (like mangoes). Other great toppings include granola, nuts and seeds (almonds or cashews), coconut yogurt and granola, granola chunks and more!
  3. Make sure you have enough variety that you don't get tired of eating it every day (or at least once a week).

 

5 steps to making the perfect acai bowl at home

  1. Buy frozen acai puree. You can find this in most grocery stores or health food stores. It's also available online on Amazon. Sambazon is one company that sells organic acai powder as well as other health products including protein powders, superfood powders and more!
  2. Make your base by blending together frozen bananas, berries, seeds and nut milk (or water). This will give your bowl texture and flavorsome sweetness without adding any sugar or artificial sweeteners! Start by blending 1/2 cup frozen berries with 1/4 cup water until smooth. Then add 1/4 cup frozen acai pulp to the blender and blend until well combined. You may need to add more water if your blender struggles with thick ingredients like these. Add another 1/4 cup of frozen berries to the blender until well combined again. If your blender has trouble blending all these things together at once, try adding some more water or blending each layer separately
  3. Optional: Freeze overnight so that it's nice and cold when you're ready to eat it! If you prefer it, you could also serve it warm by heating it on the microwave.
  4. Choose your toppings! Some people like their acai bowls topped with granola, bananas, or other fruits. Others prefer non-dairy toppings such as coconut yogurt or almond milk. You can also get creative with your toppings by adding things like chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds or protein powders. Here are some of our favorite acai bowl toppings: coconut milk yogurt, protein powder, coconut chips, berries, bananas, hemp seeds, almond butter

Enjoy it! Acai bowls are the perfect breakfast, lunch or snack, full of texture and flavor!

 

Enjoying an acai bowl outside your house!

If you do not want to go through the effort of making them at home, by now you might be searching “acai bowls near me” as these are truly delicious! So, before you head out to your local juice bar, such as Jamba Juice, or health food store, such as Whole Foods, to pick up some acai bowls, here are some things to consider:

  1. Get the right kind of acai bowl - These bowls come in many different varieties, therefore choose a base that you know you will enjoy. Take into consideration your likes and dislikes towards certain types of berries, bananas and other common ingredients!
  2. Choose the right toppings - Top off your acai bowl with coconut flakes, chia seeds, and honey if desired! Think about the nutritional value of the toppings you are adding and the hidden calories and sugars – you could easily transform a healthy snack in a high calory dessert! You could also easily check out calories beforehand, for example, if you just type “acai bowl jamba juice calories”, their website will show you the standard recipe calories and how you can customize it, while bearing in mind the calories for each topping. 
  3. Know how much you should be eating per serving and think about your calorie intake! Although they are delicious, as any other food, they should be consumed in normal portion sizes!

 

Best Acai Bowl recipes

Best Acai Bowl recipes

Here are some of the most popular (and delicious) acai bowl recipes:

The Perfect Acai Bowl: This recipe for acai bowl includes granola, strawberries, bananas and coconut flakes. It's topped with coconut cream, honey and chia seeds for an added boost of nutrients.

Vegan Acai Bowl: This vegan acai bowl contains strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and banana slices topped with almond butter, cacao nibs and hemp seeds! This recipe is dairy-free but still provides 12 grams of protein per serving thanks to all of those nuts!

Peanut Butter Acai Bowl: Peanut butter is a classic, so it's no wonder that it's one of the most popular additions to acai bowls. As long as you're using natural peanut butter without sugar or oil added, it can be a delicious addition to your acai bowl. To make peanut butter acai bowls, simply add some peanut butter to your frozen acai blend and blend again until it reaches a creamy consistency. Then top with fresh fruit, granola and other toppings of choice. Here is a recipe you must try!

This recipe uses frozen acai pulp instead of fresh berries so it’s easy to make in the middle of winter when they aren’t in season. Peanut butter adds protein and healthy fats that keep you fuller longer. This recipe serves two people so it makes a great breakfast or lunch!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups frozen acai pulp (or fresh if it’s available)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other plant-based milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, sliced into coins or chopped into chunks (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (or other nut butter such as cashew or almond)

 

Common Myths about Acai Berries and Acai Bowls!

Acai Bowl

  •   Acai bowls are only for people who want to lose weight

False! This is one of the biggest myths about acai bowls. Acai bowls are great for anyone looking for an easy way to add more fruits and vegetables into their diet because they contain a lot of fiber and protein from nuts, seeds, granola or other toppings you can add on top of your bowl. They also help keep you full throughout the day so you don't overindulge later on in the evening when it's time for dinner!

  •   Acai berries are toxic

This myth is actually based on fact — acai berries contain cyanide compounds called glycosylates which can be harmful if consumed. Anything consumed in large volumes could prove to be harmful to your body!

  •   Acai bowls are high in sugar

False! Although sugar can be found naturally in fruits, it's not usually added to them by manufacturers or vendors making acai bowls. So, if you're just eating plain acai without any toppings, then yes — it will have sugar in it because that's what makes it taste good! However, most vendors will add granola or honey which adds sweetness while also providing extra fiber and calories which is great for your health!

  •   Acai bowls have too much fat

False! Acai berries are rich in unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids which help lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation within the body. Since acai berries are so nutrient-dense, they don't need any additional fats or oils added

  •   Freezing Acai Berries Makes Them Less Effective

Some people think that freezing acai berries reduces their effectiveness as a nutritional supplement due to changes they undergo during processing. However, research shows that freezing the berries does not affect their antioxidant activity or polyphenol content when compared to fresh berries

  •   Acai is a fruit

False! It's actually a palm tree that grows in Central and South America, with fruit about the size of a grapefruit. The pulp is removed from the fruit, dried, and then pressed into small tablets called "tablets" or pulps.

  •   The acai berry has more antioxidants than pomegranate seeds or blueberries

True! Blueberries are rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants, but acai berries are even richer — they contain up to four times more anthocyanins than blueberries or black raspberries. Anthocyanins give fruits their red, purple or blue color and protect against oxidative stress (which can lead to cancer).

  •   Acai is low in sugar compared to other berries

Not really! A serving of acai pulp contains around 15 grams of sugar (or 60 calories). You could eat two cups of raspberries instead (with only 22 grams of sugar) and still get plenty of antioxidants.

 

Acai Berries Side-Effects and Contraindications

Acai berries are considered safe for most people when consumed in normal amounts. However, there are some side effects and contraindications associated with the use of acai berries. These include:

  • Allergic reactions – People who are allergic to acai berries can experience symptoms such as itching, swelling or difficulty breathing if they consume too much of this fruit. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), an estimated 2% to 3% of Americans have allergies to certain foods such as peanuts or shellfish. If you have any type of food allergy, you should avoid eating acai berries altogether because they might cause anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction that can affect your entire body, including causing difficulty breathing or swallowing, and swelling in your throat or mouth, dizziness or fainting.
  • Gastrointestinal issues – People with gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may experience diarrhea or bloat after consuming acai berry supplements.
  • Coumarin - While the antioxidants in acai berries can help fight against free radicals, they also contain coumarin, which can cause blood thinning and allergic reactions in some people. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements that contain coumarin because it can be toxic if taken at too high of a dose or for an extended period of time.
  • Bleeding disorders - If you have any bleeding disorders or take blood thinners such as aspirin, speak with your doctor before taking acai berries because these products may interact with each other and cause excessive bleeding.
  • You should not eat acai berries if you have problems absorbing nutrients from food due to malabsorption syndrome or celiac disease.

 

Conclusion

The acai berry is not just a simple snack, but a powerhouse of nutrition! Acai bowls are convenient, but also tasty and healthy snacks that you can enjoy anytime. It provides fiber, protein and energy to start the day, while also being relatively low in calories. There are, of course, other options that can be taken as a healthy breakfast. However, the acai bowl is one of the tastiest and most trendy that can be tried from home with little preparation!

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