Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health

Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health

What is Acerola?

Acerola (previously M. punicifolia) is native to the West Indies. It also is found in northern South America, Central America, Texas, and Florida. Acerola also referred to as a Puerto Rican cherry, Antilles cherry, West Indian cherry and Barbados cherry, acerola cherry makes a welcome addition to any health-conscious diet.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health

Acerola is an evergreen large size bushy shrub that reaches about 8-18 feet in height. Its downy woody branches bear attractive pink, lavender color flowers. Blooming occurs throughout the year all along the leaf axils. Fruits are small-sized berries about the size of table grapes that appear single or in clusters all along the woody branches.  Acerola fruit is a bright red cherry-like fruit containing several small seeds. Mature fruits are soft and pleasant tasting. They contain 80 percent juice. You can reap the health benefits associated with acerola's nutrient content.

The health benefits of acerola can vary widely depending on the age and state of the fruit when it’s consumed. In general, the younger and fresher fruit is more beneficial when  acerola will  be consumed.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health

Acerola (Malpighia emarginata) is a significant source of vitamin C in the natural form of ascorbic acid, containing as much as 1000 to 4500 milligrams per 100 grams of edible fruit. Vitamin C is an essential dietary nutrient, playing a role in immune system health. Acerola is also important in the synthesis of collagen, a structural component of bone, skin and blood vessels as well as the synthesis of brain chemicals involved in mood regulation. Vitamin C content is highest in the less ripened fruit and after harvest the percent of vitamin C can be preserved by freezing the plant.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health

Vitamin A is another important nutrient found in the acerola, yielding as much as a bundle of full-sized carrots, or approximately 3400 to 12,500 international units per 100 grams of fruit. Vitamin A plays a role in visual health, normal growth and ongoing development, red blood cell production and it protects the immune system.

The combination of vitamin C and phyto-chemical compounds in the Acerola would help rid off harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the body, and thereby, help boost immunity, protect the body from cancers, aging, degenerative diseases, inflammation and infections.

In addition, research studies suggest that chlorogenic acid in these berries may help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus condition.

In another report, acerola extract was shown to enhance the antioxidant activity of soy and alfalfa extracts, acting synergistically. This may be beneficial in coronary artery disease.

Acerola also contain a small amount of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, folates and pantothenic acid. It contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. These vitamins are acting as co-factors help the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health
Additional micronutrients found to a lesser degree in the fruit include several B-vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Each of which is necessary in a normal diet. Protein, fiber and fatty acids, important macronutrients of the diet, are also in Acerola.

Historically, the natural form of Acerola was harvested and used to treat a host of ailments including diarrhea or inflammation of the intestines. However, it is popular as an alternative supplement to ease symptoms of the common cold, mainly because of its high vitamin C content. Supplements are also touted as energy boosters for athletic endurance, as a means for minimizing symptoms of depression and to relieve infections of the gum and tooth.

Acerola supplements are available as powder extract to be mixed into water, fruit or vegetable juices. Topical cream formulations also exist for direct skin application to enhance elasticity and collagen production or for use as an antifungal remedy. No standard dosing exists for acerola supplements as dosing is dependent upon several variables including age, current health and pre-existing conditions. 

Benefits And Nutrition Of Acerola For Health
Clinical evidence suggests that the high antioxidant properties, which comes from the vitamins A and C, of acerola might serve as a significant element in the regular diet, as evidenced by several published research studies. Research is ongoing to determine its exact benefits and potential long term adverse effects.

The high nutritional content of these acerola makes them a popular offering at health food stores. These stores often carry a powder made from dried, ground cherries. The powder can be eaten alone or sprinkled on other foods. Dried bits of the cherries are sometimes combined with tea leaves to both enhance the flavor of the tea and increase its nutritional value.

Safety profile of Acerola

Acerola berries may rarely cause serious allergic reactions in some sensitized individuals. Most often, these kinds of reactions occur because of possible sensitization to latex from other products of the tree. Persons with history of suspected allergy to these fruits may want to avoid eating them.

Are there safety concerns?

Acerola is safe for most adults. It can cause some side effects including nausea, stomach cramps, sleepiness, and insomnia. Doses that are too high can cause diarrhea.

Do not take acerola if: