Have you been hanging around a smoothie cafe? Or the frozen fruit aisle and making your own smoothie or bowls at home? In that case, you may have come across two popular smoothie favorites- pitaya vs acai. Both are tasty and exotic fruits packed full of antioxidants and nutrition. So what’s the difference between these two popular fruits? Which is healthier? Which will you like better? Let’s dive in below and see…
In comparing pitaya vs acai (also known as dragon fruit), the most obvious difference you’ll notice is how different they look. And once you try both, you’ll see how different they taste. This post will cover the differences between pitaya versus acai, their nutritional content, and the taste differences.
In comparing pitaya vs acai, I used the two brands below from my local supermarket in the freezer section alongside the other frozen fruits.
PitayaPlus Dragon Fruit Packs Vs. Sambazon Pure Unsweetened Acai Packs.
Both brands are organic, have the same serving size (100 grams), and contain 4 packets per package. (Note the look of the packaging may have changed.)
Nutritional Comparison Chart for Pitaya vs Acai
(per 100 grams)
|Protein||1 gram||1 gram|
|Total Fat||0 grams||5 grams|
–Saturated 1 g
-Omega 3 45 mg
-Omega 6 585 mg
-Omega 9 2865 mg
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg|
|Sodium||0 mg||20 mg|
|Vitamin A||1 %||10 %|
|Vitamin C||4 %||0 %|
|Calcium||2 %||2 %|
|Iron||4 %||2 %|
*Notes on Sugars: Acai also comes in sweetened forms with added sugar, the Sambazon brand adds 12 grams of cane sugar to it’s “original blend” packets. The sugar in pitaya is a naturally occurring sugar.
What is Pitaya?
First, let’s look at pitaya, a tropical fruit, and also called dragon fruit. Pitaya is becoming more and more popular throughout the world. Pitaya fruit comes from an exotic cactus plant native to Central America. It is currently found throughout Asian countries and other tropical climates. When I was traveling in Asia, it seemed to be everywhere, so much so that I wasn’t sure if I could ever eat it again. It has only recently been becoming more popular in the U.S. due to the popularity of smoothies and frozen pitaya options. It is also possible to find pitaya as whole fruit in the supermarket, but, unfortunately, you’re likely to pay a premium price.
When opening pitaya fruit, you’ll notice the fruit is bright pink with little black seeds or white with tiny black seeds. The seeds are softer and easy to eat while they also blend nicely in smoothies. The texture can be described as similar to kiwi, a more delicate flesh with soft seeds too. Taste-wise, dragon fruit is very sweet, more like a juicy, watermelon kind of sweetness.
When you blend pitaya with sweeter fruits such as berries and bananas, it’s going to be a very sweet treat and darker pink in color from the blue of the blueberries. Pitaya also compliments tropical fruits well, such as mango and pineapple nicely. Blended with these lighter colored fruits will maintain a brighter pink color and a more tropical flavor.
What is Acai?
Acai, which is pronounced ah-sigh-ee, is a dull plum, purplish color berry. Acai berries come from acai palm trees in South American rainforests. They are not actually berries, but rather something called a drupe- as they have thin fleshy skin and a pit in the middle. Acai is found in the amazon regions of Central and South America. The problem that acai berries face is that they very quickly spoil, which is why they are quickly processed into a frozen or powder form.
The acai packs are sold as sweetened or unsweetened, so make sure to check the label! Especially if you are watching your sugar intake or just opting for a healthier choice. The unsweetened form is as close to its natural state as you can get. It’s going to have a much earthier taste, which is why some choose the sweetened version, but again it comes with a trade-off of added sugar. I prefer buying unsweetened acai and pairing it with naturally sweetened fruits such as berries and a banana to sweeten the taste naturally without unnecessary added sugar.
Which is Healthier Pitaya vs Acai?
Pitaya and acai are both excellent options as they are both powerhouse sources for antioxidants. Unsweetened acai has no sugar, and pitaya has only 8 grams of naturally occurring sugar. Acai contains some healthy fats and a good vitamin C source, and potassium. Pitaya is an excellent source of magnesium. Although acai has been marketed for weight loss, there are no studies to support this. Which is healthier? It’s really a personal choice based on which you will eat more of and your individual health needs. They are both great options for supplying your body with antioxidants and nutrition while being low in calories and sugar.
Which Tastes Better Pitaya vs Acai?
Pitaya is naturally sweeter than acai- so I think the decision on which tastes better comes down to your taste buds and what you are mixing them with. I personally prefer pitaya with more tropical fruits when I’m in a more tropical kind of mood. PItaya is going to really appeal to those who like sweet fruits. Acai, on the other hand, I enjoy with berries and a banana for a more subtle sweetness. If you are craving a more substantial sweet fruit, try going with pitaya. If you like a more subtle sweetness, try acai. Unless the acai has added sugar, which will also be very sweet and less healthy.
Whichever you decide in the pitaya vs acai battle, know you can’t go wrong as they are both healthy and delicious options for your next smoothie or bowl!