Açai vs. Maqui: Which is healthier?


The açai berry and the Maqui berry look very similar, you would very easily confuse these two purple berries. I personally love to make açaí bowls and get a very similar bowl with the maqui berry which is often a bit cheaper than the Açai. But I wondered if the health benefits were the same, so I went on an investigation and present the result here. 

What the Maqui berry and Açai berry have in common

  • Appearance: both have a deep purple colour and are similar in size
  • Both high in Anthocyanins content (which makes for the purple colour), but read on, there is a difference in the kind of Anthocyanins
  • Both grow on a palm tree in South America
  • Both are mostly sold as freeze dried powder or frozen pulp

Nutritional Value Açai vs. Maqui

When comparing the nutritional value between Açai and Maqui, the biggest difference is that açai has a higher fat content and Maqui has higher sugar content. Açai has more protein, while maqui has more fibers. 

Per 100 gAçai BerryMaqui Berry
Energy614 Kcal327 Kcal
Fat48 g7.9 g
of which saturated Fat12 g1.0 g
Carbohydrates35 g40 g
of which sugar0.5 g32 g
Fibres22 g39 g
Protein10 g5.1 g
Salt0.16 g< 0.01 g

Which has most calories? Açai or Maqui?

Açai has the most calories with 614 Kcal compared to Maqui with 327 Kcal. But we need to make a side note that most of the calories in Açai are coming from fat (48g) versus 7.9 g fat for Maqui. Maqui is higher in natural sugars 32g versus 0.5g in Açai. So when you are following a ketogenic diet, açai may be the better choice despite the higher caloric value.

Açai vs Maqui in the Ketogenic diet.

Açai îs clearly the preferred choice compared to Maqui if you are following a Ketogenic diet. Açai has a high content of fat and very low content of sugar.

What tastes better, Açai or Maqui?

Of course, the taste is subjective, but in its pure form, most people will prefer the sweeter taste of the Maqui berry. As you could read above, Maqui does contain much more naturally occurring sugars compared to açai. 

That being said, when you eat an açai bowl, it is often blended with sweet banana, honey, or some other sweetener. Then some people may prefer the açai taste. 

Which is more sustainable, Açai or Maqui?

Here Maqui is the winner as the majority of the maqui berries are still harvested in the wild as Maqui is not as popular as Açai and less cultivated as a monoculture in plantages. 

If grown naturally, there is no difference in sustainability. The problem arises when there is intensive cultivation of the trees. Sometimes precious rainforest is cut to grow a plantation of the same trees. The popularity of Açai in countries like Brazil has that issue. Demand for Açai is so high that forests have to make a place to plant Açai trees. More and more Açai companies are getting more conscious of sustainable production. 

Are there different types of Anthocyanins in Açai and Maqui?

Yes, there is a difference. When we talk about anthocyanin, we are actually talking about the pigments in plants and fruit that give them their dark purple, blue, reddish, or even black color. You have to know that there are actually 640 different kinds of Anthocyanins. Each type of Anthocyanins is often linked to a specific health benefit.

Mg/100gAçaiMaqui
Delphidin 3-O- Sambubioside-5-O Glucoside
401
Delphinidin 3,5-O-diglucoside
351
cyanidin 3,5-O diglucoside+cyanidin 3-Osambubioside-5-O glucoside
176
Delphinidin 3-O sambubioside
190
Delphinidin 3-O glucoside
429
Cyanidin 3-O Sambubioside
5
Cyanidin 3-O glucoside133107
Cyanidin – rutinoside226
Total3591659

Conclusion: use Maqui or Açai?

Both Maqui and Açai have their own health benefits and therefore both belong to a healthy diet. The takeaway is that Açai and Maqui have different kinds of Anthocyanins and nutritional values.  Specific types of Anthocyanins have been linked to specific health benefits. Although Maqui is the winner in total Anthocyanin content, the composition is different from Açai. Açai contains much more healthy fats and is much lower in sugar, making Açai the better choice in a Ketogenic diet. Although taste is subjective, most people prefer Maqui due to its sweeter (higher in natural sugar) taste. 

Source

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Anthocyanins-composition-of-maqui-berry-powder_tbl1_349958930

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Anthocyanin-and-carotenoid-content-of-acai-fruit-pulp-powder-AP_tbl1_281640973 

Frederik Lamote

Frederik is the founder of EYWA design, a startup that is 3D printing Treehouses. While exploring treehouse locations around the world he got fascinated by the value and products trees produce.

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