Açai bowls are taking over the food market

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Açai bowl from Bowl’d in San Luis Obispo features delicious and nutritious fruits. Photo by Jessica Sharpe.

Açai bowls seem to be the trend this year. I have found these berries to be the most talked about “healthy” dessert.

Originated from Central and South America, this superfood has become the new trend for breakfast, quick snacks, and a delicious lunch at the beach.

Açai tastes very similar to chocolate mixed with berries. It contains a relatively sweet taste with a bitter aftertaste.

Nutrients in Açai

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Photo taken by Eli Duke (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“The açai berry has been touted with anti-oxidant/ anti-inflammatory benefits; both are etiology for many diseases,” said Cal Poly nutrition professor Alison Dimond.

These fruits are not only made out of antioxidants but also contain fiber, protein and cardio-protective fats. They also have vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin A, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.

In fact, açai is composed of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals, which are plant components, are very important to ones health because they have the power to block cancer development, according to Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition.

 Açai research: health benefits

A study by NCBI used mice to consume the isolated polysaccharides from the açai berry and found they were able to boost their immune system.

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Photo taken by Scott Zona (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Another NCBI tested 10 overweight people who consumed açai berries for 30 days and found that these individuals’ had lower glucose, cholesterol, and insulin levels.

Participants for another NCBI study consumed 120 milliliters of MonaVie Active fruit juice, mostly containing açai pulp and other fruit concentrates, daily for 12 weeks. This study concluded improvement of joint motion, pain perception, and inflammation.

Home Health Care Management & Practice noted that the açai berry contains anthocyanin, which is an antioxidant that has the power to relax blood vessels, improve circulation and prevent blood clots.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study in overweight men who consumed açai and found improvements in vascular function, which may lower the risk of a cardiovascular event.

Açai research: potential harm

I have noticed many college students, including myself, consuming large amounts of açai bowls weekly and even daily.

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Photo courtesy of Madison Somerday.

“It is very hard finding food on campus that is both healthy and tastes good,” said agricultural communication freshman Madison Somerday. “The Sambazon açai bowls have become a part of my daily routine because of the lack of healthful variety at Cal Poly.”

Alison Dimond explained the potential harms due to overconsumption of foods.

“Eating the same item daily increases the exposure of a particular pesticide, which may be concentrated in a food, especially if imported from another country,” said Alison Dimond. “Eating the same food reduces the chance of exposure to thousands of phytochemicals and nutrients available in other foods.”

SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR…

Jamba Juice’s açai bowl contains 67 grams of sugar, which is more than double the amount of sugar the AHA recommends.

The American Heart Association recommends that men do not exceed a daily intake of 36 grams of sugar and women not to exceed 25 grams of sugar.

“The fewer the ingredients, the better the product, in general.”—Alison Dimond

Where you can find Açai bowls in San Luis Obispo

 San Luis Obispo has kept up with the demand for these sweet treats.

My personal favorites

I have explored most of San Luis Obispo’s açai places and have found that Bowl’d is my favorite.

Bowl’d allows you to chose your açai to be sweetened or unsweetened. By choosing unsweetened açai you are not putting additional sugar in your body.

Ubatuba is very unique because this açai place is the only place that serves açai in the purest content. Ubatuba does not mix their açai base with additional ingredients.

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