Does Acai Have Protein? A Nutritionist’s Review

Acai berries, known for their vibrant color and high antioxidant content, have become a staple in smoothie bowls among food enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers.

But as you craft the perfect acai bowl, you might be wondering whether acai has any protein — a nutrient that’s important for building muscle, balancing blood sugar, and satisfying hunger.

The answer is yes — acai does have protein, but not very much. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at acai’s protein content and discuss the best high-protein foods to pair with acai.

How much protein does acai have?

Acai naturally contains a small amount of protein — about 2 grams in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of frozen acai pulp (1, 2, 3).

Acai’s protein content is slightly higher than most other fruits, which typically contain less than 1.5 grams of protein per 100 grams (4, 5, 6, 7). 

However, acai is not considered a high-protein food. 

Most healthy, exercising people need at least 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram (or 3.1 grams per pound) of body weight to maintain or build muscle mass (8).

For an adult who weighs 68 kilograms (150 pounds), this equates to 95 grams of protein per day. So, with 2 grams of protein per serving, acai would only meet 2% of their daily protein needs.

Thankfully, there are other ways to meet your protein needs, whether you are following a plant-based diet or incorporating animal proteins.

High-protein foods to pair with acai

To boost the protein content of your meal or snack, pair acai with one or more of the following high-protein foods:

1. Yogurt (up to 15 grams per serving)

Pairing acai with yogurt is one of the best ways to increase the protein content of smoothies. Greek yogurt offers 15 grams of protein in each 6-ounce (170-gram) serving (9).

Regular yogurt is lower in protein, with 6 grams of protein per serving, but can still be an excellent option for anyone who prefers a lighter texture or slightly less tangy flavor (10). 

2. Cottage cheese (12 grams per serving)

Cottage cheese might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when whipping up an acai smoothie, but this protein powerhouse can really level up the nutritional value.

You’ll get about 12 grams of protein in just a ½-cup (105-gram) serving of cottage cheese (11). It blends seamlessly into smoothies, offering a rich, thick texture and a subtly tangy flavor.

3. Hemp seeds (10 grams per serving)

Hemp seeds are perfect for sprinkling over acai bowls, offering a delightful crunch, a mild flavor, and a protein boost. Each 3-tablespoon (30-gram) serving provides around 10 grams of protein (12).

They’re also an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that protects against heart disease and promotes brain health (13).

4. Kefir (9 grams per serving)

Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that’s similar to yogurt but has a thinner consistency. It blends easily into acai smoothies, adding a tangy flavor and natural fizz from the fermentation process.

Not only does kefir provide 9 grams of protein per 1-cup (8-ounce) serving, but it’s also high in beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics) that help keep your digestive system healthy (14, 15).

5. Milk (up to 8 grams per serving)

Depending on the type, milk can be a great choice for adding protein to your acai bowl or smoothie. A single cup of cow’s milk provides 8 grams of protein, along with 300 mg of calcium (16).

For those who prefer plant-based options, soy milk and pea milk (such as Ripple) are the highest in protein, both offering 8 grams per cup, and are typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D (17, 18).

6. Peanut butter (7 grams per serving)

Peanut butter’s rich, nutty flavor pairs well with the tanginess of acai, helping to balance some of its bitterness. It can be blended into smoothies or drizzled over acai bowls for extra protein.

Each 2-tablespoon (30-gram) serving of peanut butter provides 7 grams of protein along with 20% of the DV for vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against heart disease and cancer (19, 20).

7. Silken tofu (5 grams per serving)

Silken tofu is an excellent plant-based protein addition to acai bowls and smoothies, providing about 5 grams per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (21).

Although firm tofu is higher in protein, the softer, silken version is better for blending seamlessly into smoothies without altering the flavor significantly (22).

8. Chia seeds (5 grams per serving)

Chia seeds provide around 5 grams of protein and a whopping 10 grams of fiber per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. Together these nutrients help you to feel full for longer after a meal (23, 24, 25).

When sprinkled over acai bowls, chia seeds offer a satisfying crunch and subtle nutty flavor. They can also be soaked in a bit of juice or milk beforehand for a pudding-like texture.

9. Oats (5 grams per serving)

Providing around 4 grams of protein per uncooked half-cup (40 grams), oats can be blended into acai smoothies, adding a hearty texture and subtle, earthy flavor that pairs well with fruit (26).

Oats are also rich beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar (27).

10. Protein powder (protein content varies)

While it’s possible to get plenty of protein from food, protein powder can be a convenient and versatile option for increasing the protein content of your acai bowl or smoothie.

The amount of protein varies by type, but most offer between at least 20 grams per serving. Chocolate-flavored protein powders pair especially well with acai’s tangy, bitter flavor.

Final thoughts

Acai is relatively low in protein, providing only 2 grams per serving. To make acai bowls and smoothies more balanced and filling, consider pairing them with high-protein foods.

Protein-packed foods that pair well with acai include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir. For plant-based eaters, hemp seeds, soy milk, and peanut butter are fantastic alternatives.

From the creaminess of Greek yogurt to the nutty richness of peanut butter, each high-protein food we’ve discussed offers a unique way to enhance both the taste and nutrition of your acai dishes.

Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today.  Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.

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