Acai bowls have been all the rage in recent years. Not only are they totally Instagram-worthy, but they’re also delicious and nutritious.
If you are following a low-FODMAP diet, you might be wondering whether you can enjoy this trend without triggering unpleasant symptoms.
In this article, we’ll explain how acai can fit into a low-FODMAP diet. Keep reading to learn more!
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What is acai?
Acai (“ah-sigh-ee”) berries are the small, dark purple fruits produced by Acai palm trees in the Amazon rainforest (1).
Their flavor is tart, bitter, and earthy, and is often compared to blackberries and dark chocolate.
In South America, acai is traditionally used to make açaí na tigela, a dish made from frozen acai pulp blended with guarana syrup and topped with fruits, nuts, and seeds.
A version of this dish, called an “acai bowl,” has become increasingly popular in the United States, serving as a nutritious breakfast or snack option.
Frozen acai can be found at many grocery stores, while acai powder and juice can be purchased online or at some health food stores.
What are FODMAPs?
“FODMAP” is an abbreviation that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (2).
These are short-chain carbohydrates found in food that are rapidly fermented by gut bacteria and may trigger bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people.
Specifically, FODMAPs include (3):
- Fructose: A type of sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and honey.
- Lactose: The natural sugar found in milk and dairy products.
- Fructans: A type of carbohydrate found in a wide variety of foods, including wheat.
- Galactans: A type of carbohydrate found in legumes, such as beans and lentils.
- Polyols: A group of carbohydrates that are found naturally in fruits and can also be used as artificial sweeteners. Also known as “sugar alcohols.”
The low-FODMAP diet is a dietary approach that is often recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders (4).
This diet involves a short-term elimination of high-FODMAP foods, followed by the gradual reintroduction of foods to determine which types of FODMAPs trigger symptoms for the individual.
Is acai low-FODMAP?
Acai can be low-FODMAP, but it depends on the form (powdered, frozen, etc.) and the portion size.
We use the Monash University FODMAP app to identify low-FODMAP foods. It is considered the best resource on FODMAPs, because it is updated frequently and includes information about portion sizes.
1. Acai powder
Acai powder is made from freeze-dried acai berries that have been ground into a fine powder. It can be used in acai bowls, smoothies, oatmeal bowls, and baked goods.
According to the Monash app, one tablespoon (20 grams) of acai powder is low-FODMAP.
It’s important to note that larger portion sizes (10 tablespoons or 200 grams) of acai powder are high in fructans, a type of oligosaccharide that qualifies as a FODMAP.
Make sure to check the ingredients before purchasing acai powder, as some products may include high-FODMAP additives.
2. Frozen acai
Only the powdered form of acai has been tested for FODMAPs, so technically we don’t know whether frozen acai counts as low-FODMAP.
However, we do know that 20 grams of acai powder is considered low-FODMAP, and acai powder is simply fresh acai that has been freeze-dried to remove all of the water.
Based on this information, we can calculate how much fresh or frozen acai is equivalent to a low-FODMAP (20-gram) serving of acai powder.
Fresh acai has a water content of 84% on average, meaning that it contains 84 grams of water for every 100 grams of pulp (5).
So, to make 20 grams of acai powder, we would need about 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of fresh acai.
A typical serving of frozen acai is 100 grams (3.5 ounces), which would be equivalent to 16 grams of acai powder and could therefore (in theory) be considered low-FODMAP (5).
Still, frozen acai hasn’t officially been tested for FODMAPs. If you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, it’s best to consult with your doctor or dietitian before consuming any untested foods.
3. Acai juice
Acai juice is made from frozen acai that has been thawed and blended with water.
Typically, preservatives like citric acid are added to extend shelf-life and prevent the fats in acai juice from going rancid.
Many brands of acai juice also include added sweeteners, such as apple juice and agave syrup, both of which are considered high-FODMAP.
Because of these added ingredients, anyone following a low-FODMAP diet should probably avoid acai juice blends.
How to make a low-fodmap acai bowl
Making a low-FODMAP acai bowl is simple! Just follow the directions listed below.
1. Choose a liquid base.
Start by adding ½ cup of one of the following FODMAP-friendly liquid bases into a blender:
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- Light coconut milk (use ¼ cup instead)
- Lactose-free milk
- Lactose-free yogurt (plain)
- Coconut yogurt (plain)
If you’re not in the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet, and you’ve determined that lactose isn’t an issue, it’s okay to use regular yogurt.
2. Add acai powder.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of acai powder into the blender.
Make sure to choose a product that contains ONLY acai, and no other additives. There are plenty of 100% acai powders that can be purchased online:
- Feel Good Organics Organic Acai Powder
- Navitas Organic Acai Powder
- Pitaya Foods Organic Acai Berry Powder
- Terrasoul Acai Berry Powder
3. Throw in some other fruits.
Choose one or two of the following fruits to add to the blender:
- Blueberries (¼ cup)
- Dragon fruit (½ cup)
- Raspberries (30 berries)
- Strawberries (5 berries)
To keep your acai bowl low-FODMAP, stick with the portion sizes listed next to each fruit.
4. Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl.
Add everything to a high-quality blender, then blend on high for at least 30 seconds. If you have trouble getting everything to come together, add a little more liquid.
5. Sprinkle on some toppings.
Don’t forget the best part of your acai bowl — the toppings!
To keep it low-FODMAP, choose only one of each of the following:
- Sliced fruit: banana (⅓ medium fruit) or kiwi (1 small fruit)
- Seeds: chia, hemp, or pumpkin seeds (1-2 tablespoons)
- Coconut: 1-2 tablespoons of shredded coconut or coconut flakes (only add if not using coconut milk as a base)
- Nut butter: peanut (1 tablespoon) (drizzled over the top)
Finally, grab a spoon and enjoy your low-FODMAP acai bowl!
There are plenty of ways to enjoy acai while following a low-FODMAP diet.
Acai powder is considered low-FODMAP in small doses of 1-2 tablespoons. It can be added to drinks, oatmeal bowls, and smoothies, or used to make acai bowls.
Other forms of acai haven’t been tested for FODMAPs, so it may be best to avoid them if you’re worried about triggering symptoms.
Want to learn more about acai?
Check out our in-depth post:
Acai Berries: History, Nutrition, & Uses
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.