Smoothie bowls have become increasingly popular over the last few years. When done correctly, the perfect parfait will more than likely end up on some social media platform. The color, the variety, and the fact that it is a healthy snack add to the allure of the bowl. But, what is actually in the bowl? Usually, the bowl is comprised of a layer of acai/pitaya, a layer of granola, a layer of fruit, and an optional layer of add-ins. Most of us can describe what granola and fruit are and are versed in the health benefits of these foods, to some degree. However, what about the mixture that makes up the entire base of this bowl. What is acai? What is pitaya? And, why should you be eating either of them?
Acai, pronounced (ah-sigh-EE), is a purple berry about the size of a grape. The acai berry is produced from a palm tree, and it is native to South America. The taste of an acai berry is often described to be similar to a blueberry but also like raw chocolate. Acai berries are rich in antioxidants, and they are frequently referred to as a superfood because of the potential health benefits of consuming them. A diet rich in antioxidants has been proven to be effective in improving cognitive function. Research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants may lower the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Antioxidants help reduce cell damage by protecting your cells from free radicals. Cell damage from free radicals “may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases” (Mayo Clinic). One specific antioxidant abundantly present in the acai berry may lower stress and inflammation. It has also been noted that the fiber and healthy fats in acai berries can support heart health by reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Perhaps the most amazing capabilities of the acai berry are its anti-cancer properties. Studies of the antioxidants present in acai berries have revealed the capabilities to “prevent cancer cell proliferation,” “induce cancer cell death,” and “prevent cancer cell invasion” (MedicalNewsToday). To sum it up, acai berries are a great source of antioxidants that provide an abundance of amazing health benefits.
Pitaya, or dragon fruit, is the fruit of a cactus species that can be grown all over the world. Pitaya is reddish-pink, oval-shaped fruit covered in small spines. The pulp inside of the pitaya can be either red or white. The red pulp has a richer taste and provides more nutrients. The taste of pitaya is described as faint, light, and like a watermelon. But, the consistency is more similar to kiwi. Like acai, pitaya is also rich in antioxidants that fight against the harmful effects of free radicals. Pitaya is also high in fiber, iron, and magnesium. Studies show that diets high in fiber can lower cholesterol levels, reduce heart disease risk, and help maintain a healthy gut. Iron is a vital component of hemoglobin that transports oxygen throughout the body. Low iron levels can lead to iron deficiency, anemia. Magnesium can increase energy, relax nerves, and regulate blood pressure. Another health benefit of pitaya is from the prebiotics it contains. Prebiotics enhance digestion and promote the production of healthy bacteria in our gut. The powers of pitaya are both plentiful and diverse.
Both acai and pitaya are a great source of a variety of nutrients that can promote good health and enhance our lives. Acai and pitaya bowls are a creative, fun, and flavorful way to get some powerful nutrients into your diet. At Fresh Vibes, we create acai and pitaya bowls that are filling and nutritious. These bowls include granola and fresh fruit in addition to a blend of acai or pitaya. This powerful parfait offers not only the health benefits of acai/pitaya but also a supply of “good” carbohydrates and a serving of your choice of fresh fruits. If you can’t choose, try a blend of both, half acai/half pitaya. With a wide range of benefits from both of these superfoods, the choice between acai and pitaya is one that you can’t get wrong!