Superfoods are healthy; there is no doubt about that. They get their name from the fact that they are extremely nutrient-dense and pack a significant antioxidant punch. But that doesn’t always mean they are “good” for you.
For example, let’s take a look at acai berries, the superfood of the last four years or so. On its own, acai is excellent stuff. It’s packed with anthocyanins that help limit inflammation and fight cell oxidation. They’re also a great source of essential trace minerals, healthy fats, and fiber. Who could argue with that?
But when you get acai berry, you’re not getting the fresh stuff—it can’t make the trip from its home in Central or South America to the North American grocery stores. Instead, we get frozen purees and powdered extracts. And that’s all good. However, in some cases, there may be sugars added during processing or some fiber might be missing.
Going a little further with acai, how is it normally consumed? It’s generally pureed into a thick, frozen yogurt-like mixture and served as an acai bowl. It will have blended berries, bananas, and other fruits, some granola, Greek yogurt, and nuts. Not a bad combo at all. But it can also be drizzled with chocolate, honey, maple syrup, and other high sugar items.
In fact, after all the fruit in your acai bowl is blended up, and it’s topped with granola, you’re looking at a pretty high sugar-treat even if it does have some fiber. Acai bowls can easily crack the 500-calorie range and get up much higher depending on how heavy you go with nut butter and sweeteners. At the end of the day, you’re probably better off munching on some raw blueberries or strawberries for your mid-afternoon snack.
Another potential concern is that acai bowls are often recommended as breakfast foods, when really, it’s a sweet treat or dessert. Acai bowls can have a comparable amount of sugar to a cinnamon roll, and probably should not be a regular fixture in your diet. You may be much better served by a bowl of oats mixed with some nuts and berries and protein powder for brekkie.
Superfoods like acai are packed with nutrients and can be very good for you. But like most other foods, the benefit is all about the context of consumption. Focus on fruits and veggies in their whole form to get maximum benefit.