What’s better for breakfast? Avocado on toast or an acai bowl?

The question that divided the office.

By Contributor • 1 year ago • HEALTH & FITNESS

You’re trying to be healthy so you go for an antioxidant-rich bowl of acai topped with all the fruits, granola, chia seeds and sprinkle of desiccated coconut for good measure – surely this is better than a carb-heavy, calorie-dense plate of avocado on toast – right? Wrong.

Now’s the time to forget all you think you know about breakfast as we call on nutritionist, Anna Warren, to set the record straight once and for all!

There’s going to be a lot of sad faces around here…

When it comes to a healthy, nutritious breakfast, what would you personally recommend between avocado on toast and an acai bowl?

Acai bowls are certainly delish, but avocado on toast definitely gets my vote!

What are the main reasons for your answer?

Deliciousness aside, both options are nutritious in their own right. However, when comparing the two as a whole and particularly as a breakfast option, avo on toast certainly takes the cake in my eyes. Avocado on toast is packed full of essential nutrients, particularly healthy fats and fibre and provide a slow sustained release of energy.

Acai on the other hand has an impressive antioxidant content which helps bolster the immune system and leaves your insides glowing like the sun, however, it’s the way this Amazonian berry is served that renders them runner up to the humble avocado.

Here’s the thing, on its own, acai is relatively low in sugar, but when combined with frozen fruit, apple juice, maple syrup, honey toasted granola and all the other bells and whistles that make acai bowls taste like a little slice of heaven, a sugar bomb is born. Yes, they are made from an assortment of natural and mostly fruit based ingredients, which obviously trumps a bag of starbursts, but origin aside, sugar is sugar when it comes to the way the body releases hormones to bring those sugar levels back down. The downside of consuming large quantities of sugar, particularly in the AM, is that there is a dramatic rise in blood sugar which is closely followed by an even more dramatic low. And so the fatigue and morning munchies come to life.

“I’m going to be frank here, acai bowls are damn tasty and they’re well accustomed to racking up a like or two on Instagram, but when push comes to shove they’re essentially a glorified bowl of sugar.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good acai bowl and some are far less sugar dense than others. But if you’re basing your breakfast selection on the healthier of the two – avo on toast will always prevail!

How much sugar / how many calories can you expect to find in a regular acai bowl?

When it comes to a standard sized acai bowl, you are looking at between 50-100g of sugar and anywhere from 350 to 600 calories, which is a far cry from the 3-4g of sugar and roughly 350 calories in two slices of avocado on toast.

What does this equate to in terms of the recommended daily sugar intake?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that added sugar makes up less than 10% of total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day is recommended to provide additional health benefits. With this in mind, an acai bowl relatively low in sugar would likely still exceed the recommended daily sugar intake by up to double. Crazy, huh?

How does this sugar intake compare to avocado on toast?

Two slices of sourdough topped with half an avocado equates to roughly 3.5g of sugar. When you compare this with an acai bowl containing bananas, mango, maple syrup, coconut water, frozen acai and granola, you are looking at up to 80g of sugar, so over 20 times the sugar content in comparison.

The thing that might have people torn: Avocado is high in fat, toast is carbs – for this reason alone, should one opt for an acai bowl when trying to either loose or maintain weight?

There is no denying that avocados are high in fat, naturally making them high in calories too. However, just to throw every fat-phobic diet notion out the window, a moderate intake of fat is a perfectly healthy part of a wholefood diet. In fact, foods high in fat (and fibre), can help you to feel full and satisfied thanks to the role they play in slowing the release of food from the stomach. Generally speaking, this causes you to feel fuller for longer and tends to result in lengthier times between meals and ultimately less calories consumed overall.

When it comes to the toast element, making the right selection is an essential part of the equation. Wholegrain options provide the body with an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which are digested slowly throughout the day. Plus, they’re loaded with my favourite little nutrient fibre, which adds extra volume, without the additional calories, keeping your belly full and your appetite at bay.

On the other hand, an acai bowl is full of fresh fruit and loaded in nutrients, but a large amount of sugar to handle in one sitting nonetheless. Particularly when there is minimal protein, fat or fibre to buffer the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. What this tends to mean is that your blood sugar can spike and plummet resulting in hunger striking at a rate far sooner than it would post avo smash.

You’ve mentioned how the acai berry alone has powerful antioxidant properties. What are some other ways we can consume it to reap its benefits minus the sugar crash?

Make them yourself! This way you know exactly what’s going into your mouth and you can construct your bowl with your own nutritional preferences in mind. Here’s my top tips to revamp your brekky bowl:

  • Add some healthy fats into the mix like avocado or nut butter to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. With a little extra fat, you’ll likely feel fuller for longer and have the ability to avoid blood sugar crashes and the hanger that follows.
  • Sneak some fibre in there too. A scoop of oats or a sprinkle of psyllium husk will help to increase the feeling of fullness, not to mention the little dose of love it’ll provide for your bowels.
  • Load in the protein. Add in some chia seeds, yoghurt or natural protein powder to lower the glycemic load and provide some assistance when it comes blood sugar stabilization.
  • Sub out some fruit for veggies. Try replacing a portion of fruit with frozen zucchini, spinach or even cucumber. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much the fruit you do include masks the veggies flavour.
  • Opt for coconut water over apple juice
  • Lastly, replace maple syrup, honey and other sweeteners with stevia. This will bring down the sugar load without reducing the sweetness.

Moral of the story? Acai bowls are a super tasty all-natural treat, but the way in which they are made definitely determines just how healthy they actually are! Choose your ingredients wisely kids!

This article was written by Julia Giampietro 


Anna Warren | The Nutrition Collective@thenutritioncollective


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