On a recent holiday to Queensland it seemed we could not look in any direction without seeing a promotional banner for Açaí bowls, pink Pataya bowls or Cocowhip. The mother in me almost fainted when I saw the prices of these breakfast/snack menu options and the dietitian in me was astounded by the enormous serving sizes and promotional material that implied some unique health giving qualities of these choices. Concern for my clients who suffer from IBS was forefront in my mind as I was guessing that they might have thought the following:
Açaí = berry = should be OK for FODMAPs
CocoWhip = contains organic bio-fermented coconut powder = must be good for my gut.
Further investigation was warranted. Here is a quick summary of the findings of my quite extensive investigations, including some taste testing of course:
- Açaí is pronounced (a-sigh-eeee) and has replaced gogi berries as the “go-to” south american high anti-oxidant berry of the year.
- There are serious concerns about over-farming of açaí in the Amazon due to its exponential popularity, and this could deprive Brazilian people of a staple food, much like quinoa’s popularity has negatively impacted on the diet of people in Bolivia.
- Pink pitaya has been around for yonks, but previously known as dragonfruit. The name change and piggy-backing onto the popularity of açaí seems to have somehow improved its image and nutritional value!
- It is true that both açaí and pink pataya are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients and lots of other helpful nutrients – but so are other fruits!
- Açaí bowls and pink pataya bowls are predominantly made up of banana and fruit juices, with enough açaí or pink pataya to provide the desired colour and punchy brand power.
- The fruits come in a packaged form to food outlets, then get blended up with the banana, juices and ice, topped with more fruit, maybe some yoghurt and perhaps some coconut and muesli for a bit of crunch.
- One of the bowls that I saw would have contained over 600 calories, about 300 from the fruit mix, and the rest from the toppings. That is up there with a bacon and eggs or pancake breakfast albeit higher in vitamins!
- Not only high in calories, açaí or pink pataya bowls would be deceptively high in FODMAPs. The volume of fruit (even if mainly low FODMAP berries and banana) and fruit juice filler make these choices a FODMAPers nightmare.
- Now onto the CocoWhip – claiming to be a vegan, gluten and dairy-free dessert and much lower in calories than an açaí bowl – which it absolutely is at less than 100 calories per small serve before toppings are added.
- The low calorie content might be useful for those who are looking for a sweet, low calorie ice-creamy type of snack, but forget it if you need to watch FODMAPs – as Cocowhip is made from coconut water (high FODMAPs) and contains added xylitol (High FODMAP).
So, the bottom line here (so to speak) is that açaí bowls and pink pataya bowls are high in calories and in FODMAPs, CocoWhip is low in calories but high in FODMAPs, and if you were a FODMAPer who inadvertently had some Cocowhip on top of an açaí bowl you could safely write off the rest of the day to IBS symptoms and trips to the loo!
My advice – save the $10 – $20 for a few punnets of berries and some nice lactose free yoghurt!
Blogged by Kerith Duncanson – April 2016