Are Açai Bowls Actually Healthy?
They’re everywhere. They are delicious, refreshing and have become a common go-to option among the millennial generation. I remember the first time I had one, I fell in love at first bite. It was so satisfying and delicious. They look like ice cream, they are eaten like ice cream and they taste delicious. If you walk into any cafe that sells juices or smoothies, you can guarantee it also sells açai bowls. While açai bowls first got their hype for their superfood ingredient, the açai berry, they have now become a staple. And while they’re touted as packed with antioxidants and are madly consumed by fitness freaks, you may still wonder: Are açai bowls really good for you?
What Are Açai Bowls?
Açai bowls are simply thick smoothie bowls loaded with toppings and made using the special ingredient: açai (pronounced AH-sigh-EE). Açai is a grape-like super food that comes from the açai palm trees in South American rainforests. They have a dark purple skin and contain a seed covered in yellow flesh. They are traditionally eaten with meals or after in its unsweetened form. The fruit has a very short shelf life, which is why it is commonly found frozen or in powder form. The taste of açai is often described as a cross between blackberries and unsweetened chocolate.
Benefits of Açai Bowls
- PROTECTS YOUR HEART
Açai offers many benefits such as protecting your heart. In a study conducted by Udani et al (2011), 10 overweight adults were fed 100 g açai pulp twice daily for 1 month. Results signified reduction in fasting glucose and insulin levels following the 30 days as well as reduction in total cholesterol.
- CONTAINS ANTI CANCERS PROPERTIES.
The berries contain pigments called anthocyanins, which give certain fruits and vegetables their deep violet color and help reduce the risk of cancer.
- FIGHTS OFF FREE RADICALS.
Because of the antioxidants found in this superfood, in fact, according to a recent study, açai berries have the highest antioxidant capacity of any food reported to date. These açai berries fight off free radicals that cause damage to skin and the aging process.
- BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM.
The consumption of açai can help boost immune cell function, even at low dosage. It is also high in vitamin C.
- PAIN REDUCTION.
In one study, after daily consumption of açai over the course of 3 months, antioxidant levels increased and pain levels decreased.
Evidently, açai in its purest form is extremely nutritional and healthy, but because açai is naturally bitter, oftentimes, ordering an açai bowl from a commercial store isn’t the healthiest because they are sweetened with artificial sugars and syrups. They are also blended with 3 or 4 whole bananas or berries. Not only that, but they are also topped off with nut butters, sweetened granola, chocolate, and more fruits. This makes it high in sugar and calories, where some bowls may exceed 600 calories! Furthermore, depending on where you get your açai bowl, watching out for portion sizes is also important.
The Bottom Line:
In the end, açai bowls can be part of a healthy diet, but make sure you are limiting the additional sugars and controlling portion sizes. Alternatively, making your own açai at home can help you control what you put inside!
The BEST Homemade Açai Recipe
This is my go-to açai recipe for breakfast or as a nutrient dense snack.
- Frozen açai puree
- Frozen banana and mixed berries
- Nuts, fresh fruit, coconut chips and other toppings of choice (for topping)
- Honey (or agave)
- Freeze your bowl. I like to do this as it keeps the smoothie from melting once it is poured into your bowl.
- Prepare your toppings. To prevent melting even more, I like to chop up all the fruits, nuts, and whatever you prefer to put on it.
- Blend the açai. Blend half an avocado, honey or agave, frozen banana and frozen mixed berries. Once blended, add in the frozen açai packet and blend again.
- Pour the açai into the frozen bowls, top, and eat immediately. Enjoy your delicious and nourishing açai bowl!
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