What’s hiding in your Acai?

*Disclaimer – This post is based strictly upon my opinion and research. I suggest that you make the best choice for you and your family based upon your own due diligence and research on this topic**

Just about everyone’s raving about Acai, the Brazilian super berry harvested from the Amazon rainforest. Everyday thousands of Instagram accounts are filled with gorgeous photo’s of Acai smoothies and bowls. Drop into any trendy Gold Coast cafe and you’ll be guaranteed to find a smoothie bowl on the menu. So why all the fuss? And are there any real benefits to eating Acai?

THE MANY BENEFITS OF ACAI

After reading a few academic findings, I’ve discovered Acai contains large amounts of antioxidants, fiber and beneficial fatty acids such as oleic acid. They’re also lower in sugar than most other fruits. These little purple beauties have also been linked to anti-aging, improved heart function, improved skin and eye health, boosting immunity and reducing certain cancer cells.


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But that doesn’t mean all Acai products are necessarily good.

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CHOOSING YOUR ACAI

1. NON-ORGANIC VS ORGANIC ACAI

Firstly, there are organic and non-organic Acai berries on the market. Non-organic berries are NOT free from pesticides, harmful waste water and other toxins. To be certified organic, the farmer and the production facility have to apply for Australian Organic Certification. This is a lengthy and costly procedure which can take up to three years. Organic berries are always grown in their natural state without pesticides and are harvested and packaged under strict conditions.

2. THE AUSTRALIAN BRAND AMAZONIA

The only brand I trust when buying Acai pure organic berry pulp is Amazonia. Their Pure version is 100% organic Acai berry pulp! They’re also the only Australian owned supplier of organic Acai berry pulp into Australia. You can buy their frozen smoothie packs at most health food stores or online from their website. I use this Acai pulp whenever I’m making Acai smoothies or smoothie bowls at home.

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3. READ THE INGREDIENTS

Many companies have jumped on the Acai bandwagon using clever marketing so that customers will buy their products. Words such as natural may be used instead of organic. Yet some frozen Acai brands are laced with soy lecithin, sugar, water, corn syrup and other chemicals.

I’ve found many top brands such as Healthy Care, Swisse, Nature’s Way and Bioglan selling organic Acai capsules and powders containing chemicals. Additives and thickeners such as maltodextrin, cornstarch, sunflower lecithin and silicon dioxide have all been added to their products. Ironically, the packaging would convince you that you are buying a quality healthy product. All it takes is a quick scan of the label to discover what’s inside.

4. BUYING READY-MADE SMOOTHIE BOWLS

So what about the smoothie bowl from your favourite cafe? A few tips when buying Acai when you’re out and about.

  • Only buy organically certified Acai from a reputable supplier
  • Ensure your Acai smoothie is being made with frozen Acai berry pulp and not from powder
  • Standard smoothie bowls must be made with 2 frozen smoothie packs to ensure you receive that creamy consistency; if it’s too watery you may have only received one pack
  • Smoothie bowls are best when mixed with frozen banana, coconut water and/or apple juice
  • Always check the quality of the other products being used in your smoothie bowl

I recently enquired about the ingredients at a Surfers Paradise cafe and was shocked to discover they were selling superfood smoothie bowls mixed with Coles HomeBrand apple juice. Surely it’s no longer a superfood if its drowned in sugar and chemicals, right?

– This article originally ran in The Gold Coast Post here:
http://goldcoastpost.com.au/whats-hiding-acai/

All photos sourced from goldcoastpost.com.au.