What are Açai Bowls, the Healthy Frozen Treats even Royals Go Crazy for?
You may have seen or tasted açai bowls if you’ve taken a trip to California or South America… or just from scrolling through your Instagram feed! Yes, the frozen treat has become a true staple in health conscious circles. It’s not hard to understand why: açai bowls make the perfect breakfast, post-workout treat, or afternoon pick-me-up snack. Discover how the frozen dessert became a cult food, and how it fits into growing holistic lifestyle trends and “clean eating” culture. Can you guess which celebrity enjoys bee pollen on their açai bowl?
What Are Açai Bowls?
Essentially, they are denser smoothies you can eat by the spoon and add any healthy or less healthy toppings you like. The smoothie bowl base consists of frozen açai palm fruit in puree form, which comes from Brazil. The fruit itself resembles a blueberry, but contains close to 10 times the antioxidants! With more options for creative arrangements and a more pleasing presentation with the same healthy boost as smoothies, acai bowls offer spoonfuls of color and nutritiousness.
Acai berries are often advertised as a superfood, with claims that they can soothe ailments such as arthritis, high cholesterol, and skin issues. More generally, the berries aid in the process of detoxification and in the maintenance of good health.
The Rise in Popularity of the Açai Fruit
Apparently, West Coast surfers may have started the açai berry trend. Looking for an afternoon post-surf snack, they started eating the fresh berries and topped them with bananas in the 90s and 2000s. Yummy! While they popularized it, surfers alone did not make the fruit go viral… Indeed, that required the magic touch of social media and its influencers.
In 2020 alone, açai witnessed a 359% increase in popularity! In fact, it became so popular that Grub Hub named it the most popular breakfast food of 2020. The berry owes its surge in popularity, particularly in bowl form, to viral hashtags, live videos, and stories. These all boosted public access to information about the fruit. They also spread its benefits and pretty bowl arrangements across the globe.
The Growth of Superfood Culture
By definition, superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that promote good health through the consumption of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In recent years, superfoods emerged as a trend of their own in the food world. Açai is one of the poster children, along with spirulina, chlorella, and chia seeds, among others.
Superfoods started out by being endorsed in medical journals, but quickly hit the mainstream as influential public figures discovered their benefits and shared them with the world in interviews and social media posts.
The Brazillian fruit’s growth as a cult food has been largely facilitated by celebrities and influencers. Hopping on the clean eating and holistic lifestyle trends, these public personas’ large platforms and often national or international reach really turned pictures of açai bowls into symbols of cultural status and “being in the know.”
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop, for example, has over 1.5 million followers on Instagram. On the platform, the actress’ team shares health, beauty, and lifestyle tips including her chia/ açai bowl recipe. Or you may recognize Camila Mendes, the actress who plays Veronica Lodge on CW show Riverdale. She contributed to popularizing açai bowls in an interview with Women’s Health Magazine where she tested out açai bowl recipes (including Gwyneth Paltrow’s). Even the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle shared her favorite smoothie bowl with the berry. Believe it or not, it includes bee pollen as a topping!
Now that you know the story behind açai bowls, are you ready to venture into the vast world of superfoods? We hope that you learned a thing or two about the connection between a nutrient-packed berry, a smoothie bowl, and social media trends! There exists a plethora of flavours and colours for this dessert, so there is really a smoothie bowl for everyone. Head here to find açai bowls near you.