Antioxidants and the Acai Bowl Myth

Through marketing and advertisements we have been exposed to the benefits of the acai berry. Specifically that the Acai Berry contains many antioxidants. So what exactly  are antioxidants? Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help boost the immune system as well as prevent chronic diseases. 3 major antioxidants include Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta carotene. There are several sources that we can get antioxidants from, including colorful fruits and vegetables. Berries have high sources of antioxidants and have lower levels of sugar as well.

The media has portrayed the acai berry to be a healthy source of antioxidants. This is true however, the most common way that people are consuming the acai berry is through a smoothie or acai bowl, which both include an “acai mix,” not simply just the acai berry itself. Thus, many of the smoothies and bowls have extremely high levels of sugar which are essentially over-powering the benefits from the acai berry. You would be better off eating a handful of berries than eating an acai bowl. Additional toppings including bananas, coconut, granola and honey pile on the sugar and calorie content to the bowls and smoothies. One bowl with toppings can amount to 390-500 calories.

Sorry to put a damper on the acai berry craze. It is important that we are educated about the foods we are consuming rather than to blindly believe nutrition claims portrayed by the media. My recommendation is everything in moderation. If you can’t give up the acai frenzy, limit your intake to once or twice a week. Acai bowls and smoothies should be viewed as a meal not just as a snack. Making your own smoothies or bowls are yet another healthier option. Milk substitutes such as coconut milk and almond milk can be a great change up for smoothie flavoring.

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