Post # 5 Açai´ Bowls Won't Go Away!
I cover this in Podcast Episode #1. Here are my notes...
I don't really have anything against Açai´ fruit, in general. This berry is probably one of the best superfoods available...if you can get it at its peak of freshness. You just have to be in the swampy parts of Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago (go Trini!), or in the upper regions of South America to make that happen. Oh, and don't load it with sugar. Sure, no problem!
Açai´ bowls and smoothies have dominated Instagram feeds and every remotely-healthy juice bar, restaurant, or fruit stand in the US for some time now. The hype is that Açai´ can energize you, clear your skin, lower cholesterol, boost immunity, aid digestion, act as an anti-inflammatory, and lower your blood sugar! Yet, most people I speak to have no idea that HOW you eat this fruit greatly affects any benefits you were hoping to reap.
Yep, this fruit is so sensitive to light, temperature and exposure to oxygen that if it isn't frozen or freeze dried immediately after harvesting, it can lose 75-85% of is antioxidant power during shipping! Most places offer the Açai´ puree which doesn't pack nearly the punch of the freeze-dried powder: the puree has an antioxidant potency of 1,767 , while the powder is listed as 102,700 in ORAC testing. Also, high-temperature pasteurization, used to kill bacteria before transport, kills all the good stuff, too.
It also happens to be quite tart and bitter. That's why its usually served with some kind of sweetening kicker to make it palatable to us Americans. (Brazilian street vendors often serve Açai´ warm, spicy, and blended into a dipping sauce for fried foods.) I have seen so much sugar added to these bowls and smoothies in the form of:
juices: guava, apple, pineapple, mango,
agave nectar (and don't even start with that agave isn't really sugar nonsense)
frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbert
Even adding fresh fruit can send the sugar carbs overboard when the goal is to counteract the bitterness of the Açai´. For example, Jamba Juice's Primo Bowl has a whopping 99grams of carbohydrates...67 of those grams being sugar!!! You'd have to eat 2 Snickers bars or an Oreo McFlurry from McDonald's to match those numbers.
So, of course, enjoy an Açai´ bowl or smoothie...just know that it might not be as healthy as you thought. While the Mayo Clinic acknowledges the antioxidant and fiber health benefits of the berries, they clearly state that there aren't enough studies to support all of the health claims. Most importantly, be aware of those additional ingredients, and try to use the powder instead of the puree!!!!