How to put together a healthy acai bowl

You’ve no doubt seen these photogenic darlings of the health food world in your Insta feed – so what’s all the fuss about acai bowls?

Acai bowls have increasingly been popping up in health-conscious cafes and social media feeds in recent years.

But what exactly is acai and why all the hype around it?

Here’s all you need to know about this purple-hued berry and its ancient origins, why it’s been touted as a superfood and how you can create your own little bowl of health at home.

What is acai?

Acai berries (pronounced ah-sah-ee} are native to Central and South America, and have been a staple food of the Amazon’s ribeirinhos people for thousands of years.

Due to the difficulty in exporting the berries, in Australia they’re often sold as a powder or a frozen puree.

It is highly likely you’ve become familiar with acai in its iteration as a smoothie bowl.

Why acai is a superfood

Functional nutritionist Fran Dargaville says acai is touted as a superfood because of its antioxidant content.

“While many plant foods contain antioxidants, acai contains higher levels than many other foods, with one serve of acai providing five times more antioxidants than a cup of green tea,” she says.

Fran says antioxidants are key for protecting cells against damage from free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress – which can in turn lead to chronic disease.

But that is not where acai’s health benefits end, says dietitian Milly Smith.

“As well as being high in antioxidants, acai also contains a range of vitamins, minerals and is naturally low in sugar and high in dietary fibre,” says Milly, of Dietitians Australia.

acai bowl benefits

How to make your own acai bowl

Creating a healthy acai bowl at home is oh-so easy.

Step 1: Make the acai bowl base

Fran suggests making a simple acai bowl out of:

  • One packet of unsweetened frozen acai;
  • One frozen banana; and
  • A small amount of water or coconut milk.

“The banana adds sweetness and ensures a creamy consistency (similar to ice cream), and the small amount of liquid helps achieve the perfect texture,” says Fran.

Step 2: Add toppings

Fran suggests serving your acai bowl with sliced fruit such as strawberries, banana and mango, which complement the flavour of acai.

For extra crunch, add nuts, seeds, or healthy homemade granola.

Other acai bowl tips to keep in mind

Milly warns that acai bowls can sometimes be high in sugar and calories, so it’s important to keep portion size in mind.

“(Acai bowls) are frequently made on a base of berry powder/puree and mixed with fruit juice, then topped with other ingredients that can increase the sugar load like granola and dried fruits,” she says.

“As well as being high in sugar these ingredients are also high GI, meaning they can cause a big spike in our blood sugar levels.”

Fran adds that acai bowls sometimes do not contain adequate fat and protein to substitute a meal.

To up your acai bowl’s nutritional value, Fran suggests adding protein powder or collagen to ensure you’re getting a protein hit, and include healthy fats such as nuts and seeds.

Love health bowls? Here’s some more ideas and inspo:

Written by Tania Gomez.