Pitaya Vs Acai – What’s The Difference?

Among pitayas and acai berries, one is sweeter than the other, and one is healthier than the other. Which one should you choose when it comes to breakfast bowls? Acai and pitaya are tropical fruits packed with antioxidants. Both are extremely healthy and can be used in similar ways, but pitaya and acai are very different in appearance, texture, and flavor. This article compares pitaya and acai berries to find out all the differences and similarities between them.

What Is Pitaya?

The pitaya fruit, also known as dragon fruit, pitahaya, and strawberry pear, originated in the Americas and became popular in Asia over time. As a type of cactus, pitaya grows on vines. Dragon fruit flowers only open at night and will only last for a night. Due to its easy cultivation in warm environments, pitaya is now grown in various countries, including the US, Peru, Mexico, Australia, and Vietnam.

The unique appearance of pitaya makes it stand out among all fruits. It looks like dragon scales, hence the name dragon fruit. Pitayas are delicious on their own, as well as in drinks, desserts, and smoothies.

What Are Acai Berries?

Berries of the acai palm A well-known superfood, Acai berries are popular in recent years due to numerous studies proving their health and wellness benefits. Because acai berries have only one pit instead of multiple small seeds, they can be considered drupes, similar to apricots, peaches, and plums. Acai palm trees produce acai berries. It is unlikely that you will be able to purchase fresh acai berries if you don’t live in a region where these berries grow. Luckily, these berries are also available in multiple shelf-stable forms.

Pitaya Vs Acai – What Are The Differences?

Despite their differences, pitaya and acai berries share a few similarities as we compared all aspects of their characteristics.

Origin

Two tropical fruits, pitaya and acai, are native to Mexico and Central America, while acai berries come from the Amazon River basin in South America. Unlike pitaya, which grows on a type of cactus tree, acai berries grow on palm trees that thrive in humid environments. This is why they are cultivated in only a few countries, such as Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. In addition to being easy to grow, pitaya trees can even be grown in greenhouses.

Appearance 

A pitaya and an acai berry look very different from one another. This fruit has an oval to oblong shape, somewhat like an artichoke. Pitayas typically have a length of 14 inches and a width of 9 inches. Due to their scales and the vibrant skin that looks like leather, pitayas look very dramatic. They have scales that overlap each other and have green tips that make them look even more impressive.

Pitaya skin varies in color from bright pink to deep red to yellow, depending on the variety. The most common variety is red-skinned pitaya with green-tipped scales. The acai berry looks very different from pitaya. Acai berries are round dark purple fruits with yellow flesh that contain a pit in the middle.

Varieties

Pitayas can be sweet or sour, depending on the variety. Sweet pitayas are the most commonly cultivated and sold tropical fruit. Pitaya in yellow Sweet pitayas come in three varieties. White-fleshed pitayas are pitaya varieties commonly known as dragon fruit. They have pink skins with white interiors. Pitayas with red flesh and red skin are also available. Yellow pitayas have white flesh and bright yellow skin.

Acai berries come in various varieties. The most popular acai berry is the black (purple) acai berry. Other varieties include white acai berries, sword acai, and acai chumbinho. As well as being the healthiest and best-tasting type of acai berry, black acai is also the most popular variety.

Flavor

Pitayas are mildly sweet fruits similar to kiwis and pears. They should not be expected to be very sweet. Pitayas can be sweet or tart depending on their variety. Yellow dragon fruit is said to be one of the sweetest varieties. The taste of acai berries in their pure form is very different from pitaya. These dark berries are earthy and tart. Think of blackberries with a hint of chocolate if you haven’t tried raw acai berries.

Which Tastes Better: Pitaya Or Acai?

It is important to try both pitaya and acai berries to find out which one you prefer. Pitaya is sweeter than acai berries, so if you prefer sweet fruit, choose pitaya. If you don’t mind a little tartness, you’ll love acai berries. You can pair acai berries with other fruits to make them sweeter,

Texture

Pitayas have a unique texture. Ripe pitayas have a creamy texture like avocados with a slight crunch from the seeds. Overripe dragon fruits are too soft and mushy. Pitaya’s skin is quite thick and leathery. It is easy to peel off if you cut the fruit into four pieces. Pitaya’s raw skin is tough, but it is safe to eat.

If you want to consume acai berries raw, you need to soak the berries first to soften them. The flesh of acai berries is yellow and feels granular. Each berry contains a large seed. In terms of texture, pitaya is definitely more enjoyable to eat than acai berries. When blended, both fruits have a smooth texture and make a delicious, healthy base for bowls.

Can You Eat Pitaya And Acai Berry Seeds?

When you cut open a dragon fruit, you’ll see many tiny black seeds throughout the flesh. Like kiwi seeds, they’re completely safe to eat. Dragon fruit seeds are also pleasantly crunchy. Acai berries have inedible seeds, unlike pitaya seeds.

Availability

Since dragon fruit is now grown all over the world, it is not surprising that fresh pitaya can be found in supermarkets everywhere. Pitaya’s thick skin also protects it from pests and during transportation, which is why it is widely available. You can also get pitaya chips, which are thin slices of dried pitaya that make a great snack if they don’t contain added sugar.

Due to the extremely high content of healthy fats in acai berries, they turn rancid very quickly. To preserve the nutritional value and flavor of acai, the berries are frozen immediately after picking.

Acai berries are available in pureed form, since the seeds should be removed. Since fresh acai berries cannot be transported from one country to another in a good state, suppliers typically dry them. Dried acai berries are very shelf-stable. There are also powdered forms of pitaya and acai berries. While both are healthy, pitaya is easier to find and many people prefer it fresh.

Nutrition And Health Benefits

You should include pitaya and acai in your diet as they are both extremely healthy. Let’s examine their nutrition facts and health benefits.

Antioxidants 

You can protect your body from free radical damage by eating pitaya and acai, both of which are high in antioxidants. Flavanoids and betalains are powerful antioxidants in pitaya, while anthocyanins are the main antioxidant in acai berries. Anthocyanins are responsible for acai berries’ dark color.

Calories

There are only 60 calories in a 100-gram serving of pitaya and 70 calories in a 100-gram serving of acai berries. This makes them ideal for your morning bowls as you can load them with your favorite healthy toppings and not worry too much about calories. Fresh pitaya is also an incredible snack due to its low calorie content.

Vitamins And Minerals

Pitaya and acai are both packed with vitamins and minerals. In terms of minerals, pitaya is a good source of magnesium and iron. Acai berries contain traces of potassium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, and copper. Acai and pitaya are both rich in calcium, with a 100 gram serving of each fruit containing around 19 mg.

Fat

A 100-gram serving of frozen acai puree contains around 5 grams of fat. However, these are healthy fats that improve heart health and reduce bad cholesterol.

Fiber

You can improve your digestion by eating fresh pitaya, which contains more fiber than acai berries, especially when they are frozen purees.

Carbohydrates

You should choose acai bowls over pitaya bowls if you are trying to consume fewer carbs. A 100-gram serving of pitaya contains almost three times as many carbs as the same amount of acai berries.

Health Benefits

Here are the potential health benefits pitaya and acai may provide based on their nutritional value.

  • Heart health

  • Calcium content improves bone health

  • Anti-cancer effects possible

  • Skin that is healthier

  • Digestion is improved

Storage

If you are able to obtain fresh acai berries, use them as soon as possible. As opposed to acai, pitaya can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. Dragon fruit can be kept on the counter for up to three days. You should store frozen pitaya chunks and acai puree in the freezer. The shelf life of these frozen products is quite long.

In airtight containers away from light and humidity, you can store these powders for at least a year. Acai and pitaya powders are the most shelf-stable forms of these healthy fruits.

Uses

Generally, pitaya is eaten raw. Cut the fruit in half and remove the flesh with a spoon. The dragon scales look tough, but they are extremely easy to cut through. As well as eating fresh pitaya as a snack, you can also use it to make sweet and savory salads and salsas as well as grill it. Fresh acai berries are not as versatile as pitaya because you must soften the berries and remove their pits first.

The use of frozen acai and pitaya (frozen or fresh) is similar.

Here are some ways to enjoy both acai and pitaya:

  • Using acai and pitaya in smoothies is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to enjoy them. The possibilities are endless.

  • A pitaya bowl and an acai bowl can be made with pitaya and acai. Blend pitaya with your favorite fruits and top with your favorite toppings to make a pitaya bowl. Blend frozen acai puree with other berries and banana until you achieve a smooth texture, and then serve with your favorite toppings.

  • You can make homemade ice cream using frozen acai. Just blend it with frozen bananas and sweeten it with your favorite syrup.

The uses of acai and pitaya powders are pretty much the same. You can use them to make smoothies, puddings, various drinks and yogurt.

Final Thoughts

You have to decide between these two bowls based on your flavor preferences. Pitaya is naturally higher in sugar. Skip the sweeteners. Acai and pitaya bowls are both extremely healthy, but only if you choose healthy toppings. Pitaya and acai bowls can be topped with sugar-free granola, coconut flakes, berries, other fresh fruits, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.

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