Are your Instagram and Snapchat feeds filled with pictures of colorful fruity bowls that look simply delicious? These culinary creations are called açaí bowls and have become a popular go-to option at juice bars and restaurants. People have been obsessing over the appearance and taste of these bowls and also how healthy they think they are. BUT… are they actually healthy for you?
What exactly is an Açaí bowl?
Açaí bowls have a thick smoothie like base of blended fruits (including Açaí berries) and milk or yogurt. This açaí base is topped with a wide variety of toppings, such as sliced fruit, seeds or nuts, and even peanut butter or Nutella drizzle. There are an assortment of flavors, but they will most likely vary from location to location. For the most part, juice shops that specialize in açaí bowls will have plenty of different bases and combinations to choose from, as well as an abundance of delicious toppings.
Are Açaí bowls actually healthy?
Açaí berries themselves provide an array of health benefits including their antioxidants, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and calcium. Although these berries are classified as a superfood, most açaí bowls tend to fall on the other side of the health spectrum. These bowls are loaded with sugar and oftentimes surpass the 25 grams of sugar the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends for women and the 37.5 grams suggested for men. Generally speaking, açaí bowls contain around 60-70 grams of sugar, which is more than twice the amount of sugar that the AHA recommends for women daily. The majority of sugar in açaí bowls is derived from the added fruit that is blended with the açaí berries (which are low in sugar compared to other fruits) and the rather unhealthy — but oh, so tempting — toppings that are offered.
Luckily açaí bowls are easy enough to make at home, where you can decide exactly what goes into them! Preparing your own açaí bowls can cut a large fraction of unnecessary added sugars and carbohydrates, making it an overall healthier option. There are an abundance of at-home açaí bowl recipes online that serve as not only a healthier, but cheaper alternative to store bought açaí bowls. Here are some recipes to enjoy in the comfort of your own home:
- Traditional Açaí Bowl
- Peanut Butter Bliss Açaí Bowl
- Tropical Açaí Bowl
- Coconut Açaí Bowl
- Strawberry Açaí Bowl