Whether you’ve been at PLNU for three years or three weeks, chances are you’ve had an açai bowl. If you haven’t, you have probably heard legends about the picture-perfect bowls of blended, exotic fruit. Açai bowls are packed with micronutrients from all the fruits they contain: açai, pitaya, pineapple, banana, grape, raspberry, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi. They also occasionally have toppings on them like coconut, chia seeds, honey, and granola. It’s true, these bowls don’t have any of the chemicals and preservatives seen on a lot of ingredient labels in the grocery store.
While they don’t have any of those chemicals, the sad truth is that most açai bowls have just as much sugar as a can of soda. The American Heart Association states the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sugar intake is 25 grams for women is and 37.5 grams for men. Nutritionix reports that an açai bowl from Néktər Juice Bar has anywhere from 35-55 grams of sugar. That’s well over the RDA of sugar intake for both males and females.
One of the worst parts about açai bowls is that there isn’t enough fiber to transport the sugar through the digestive tract. Without this, a large amount of sugar goes straight into the bloodstream and is stored as fat in the liver. While whole fruits do have enough fiber to handle their sugar content, they are blended up to make the base of an açai bowl, destroying their natural source.
A popular hub for açai bowls near PLNU is Northside Shack. They have a “mini” (four-ounce deli container), “small” (16-ounce deli container), and “large” sized bowls (32-ounce deli container). Their large size has roughly 85 grams of sugar in one bowl. That’s more than double the RDA for men and women. This portion is only $2 more than the small, so it is popular for people to choose to upgrade. Next time you’re deciding what size to get, consider the health consequences that come with the financial advantage.
It is very easy to get trapped into thinking that you’re doing yourself a favor by eating açai bowls every day. They’re delicious and nothing more than blended berries topped with more berries, granola, honey, seeds, etc. But, the reality is that they should be treated as a dessert more than a staple to your diet.