Well, you would have seen it sprouting up in many of the shopping malls in Singapore lately. Yes we are talking about ACAI BOWL, which has been touted as the next SUPERFOOD!
But what is exactly is ACAI (pronounced as “ah-sigh-EE”)?
This humble-looking fruit is actually part of the berries family, and it looks very much like a blueberry. It originates from the açaí palm trees in Central and South America and its usually served as a smoothie and topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or granola. It contains wonderful amounts of antioxidants (helps protect your body against damaging substances known as free radicals), dietary fiber, and healthy fatty acids! These nutrients promote heart and brain health as well as to improve digestion for the body. Many believe that the acai berry contains more antioxidants than blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, or cranberries.
Although the Acai bowl is packed with a lot of wonderful nutrients, it is easy to go overboard with your toppings and turn a healthy snack into a high-sugar-and-high-calorie dessert.
An average 170-gram Acai bowl packs in around 11 grams of added sugar (recommended intake is about 55g) and go as high as 600 calories. This is almost about eating 2.5 bowls of white rice! Acai bowl made commercially are usually larger in serving sizes and some fruit toppings may be sweetened with syrup to ensure consistency in sweetness, hence the higher in calories.
This is ironic, because the last that you want to get from the supposedly-healthy Acai bowl is to develop weight gain, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes from all the extra sugar and calories!
So what if I am craving for a good bowl of Acai bowl for my dessert?
Well, here are some tips to still enjoy in a healthier manner:
- Share your bowl with a good friend! Sharing is caring and this way, your friend/friends are getting a portion of the good stuff AND the calories as well!
- Ask for the smallest size possible. You don’t need to supersize everything.
- If you can choose your toppings, ask if the fruits are sweetened with syrup. Go for the unsweetened ones to save on the calories (e.g blueberries, kiwis etc). Nuts are also an excellent source and it adds to the crunch too.
- Avoid the processed and highly sweetened toppings such as crushed cookies, breakfast cereals, sprinklers or chocolate syrup.
The same tips apply when you order any desserts such as yoghurt cup, ice cream or even ice shavings such as Korean bingsu! This can help you enjoy your sweet treat with a piece of mind. However that said, the best and healthiest snacks/desserts are still fresh fruits and unsalted nuts!