Nutrition Market

Acerola Cherry - A Superfruit Packed with Vitamin C

Acerola cherry is an exotic superfruit that originates from Central and South America. This bright red cherry-like fruit may be small, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to health benefits.

What is Acerola Cherry?

The acerola cherry (Malpighia emarginata) is a small, red, cherry-like fruit that grows on the acerola tree, which thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. Despite its name and appearance, the acerola cherry is not closely related to the common cherry.

Acerola cherries can be enjoyed fresh, but more commonly they are consumed in powdered supplement form or as an ingredient in foods and beverages. The fruit has become increasingly popular due to its exceptionally high vitamin C content.

Key Benefits and Nutrition

Acerola cherries offer some impressive health-promoting qualities:

  • Extremely high in vitamin C - One of the most outstanding aspects of acerola cherry is its vitamin C content. It contains over 1,600mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, making it one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C in the world. That’s over 30 times the RDI! Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function and collagen production.
  • Antioxidant capabilities - In addition to vitamin C, acerola cherries contain other antioxidants like anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin. These antioxidants help fight free radicals and oxidative stress.
  • Bioactive compounds - Research indicates the bioactive compounds in acerola cherry may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-ageing capabilities.
  • Minerals and vitamins - Acerola cherries also provide small amounts of B vitamins, carotenoids, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Uses and Applications

Thanks to its outstanding nutrient density, acerola cherry is a useful ingredient with applications in the food, beverage and supplement industry:

  • Vitamin C supplements - Acerola is often used in vitamin C supplements and multivitamins. The high vitamin C content means less is required to achieve 100% RDI compared to synthetic ascorbic acid.
  • Immune support supplements - Any supplements designed to boost immunity will benefit from having acerola cherry powder as one of the key ingredients.
  • Smoothies and juices - Acerola cherry powder is commonly added to smoothies and juices to create nutrient-dense beverages with an extra vitamin C kick.
  • Snacks and energy bars - The convenience market makes good use of dried acerola cherries in trail mixes, cereals, energy bars and bite-sized snacks.
  • Cosmetics and skincare - Due to the antioxidant capabilities of acerola cherry, it is often utilised in anti-aging skin creams and serums.

Bioavailability of Acerola Cherry

Bioavailability refers to the body's ability to easily absorb and utilise a nutrient. According to research, the vitamin C naturally present in acerola cherries may have higher bioavailability compared to synthetic vitamin C supplements.

The vitamin C in acerola exists in its natural state surrounded by flavonoids and carotenoids. These compounds are thought to aid absorption by protecting the vitamin C and stopping it from oxidising/breaking down before entering the bloodstream.

Therefore, acerola represents a more bioavailable source of vitamin C that your body can effectively utilise.

Side Effects and Precautions

Acerola fruit and its derived supplements are considered very safe when consumed in normal food amounts. There are no commonly reported side effects. However, there are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • People with the disorder glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) should avoid taking high-dose acerola supplements due to the risk of hemolysis (red blood cell damage).
  • Due to the blood thinning effect of vitamin C in very high doses, caution is advised for people taking anti-coagulant medication. Consult your doctor before taking acerola supplements.
  • While vitamin C is water soluble and any excess is excreted out in urine, megadoses of over 2000mg a day could potentially cause diarrhea, nausea or abdominal cramps in sensitive people.
  • Acerola may interfere with chemotherapy drugs. Cancer patients should talk to their oncologist before taking acerola supplements.

When consuming acerola cherry within normal amounts as part of a balanced diet, none of these side effects should pose an issue.

How to Select and Store Acerola Cherry

Frozen cherries

Frozen acerola provides the most convenience and nutrient retention. Check frozen packs for signs of frost burn and stick to reputable brands.

Acerola powder

This bright red powder is very versatile and commonly used. Store powder in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Capsules and tablets

For supplements, buy products from reputable manufacturers that contain non-GMO acerola with no unnecessary fillers.

Storage Tips

To retain maximum nutritional potency, store your acerola in the freezer (if frozen) and ensure all acerola powder is kept away from heat, air and sunlight exposure.

How to Use Acerola Cherry

Thanks to its versatility, there are many ways you can incorporate acerola cherry into your diet:

  • Sprinkle acerola powder onto your breakfast cereal, yogurt, oats or smoothie bowl
  • Blend frozen acerola cherries into smoothies, juices or acai bowls
  • Make acerola gummies or fruit snacks using gelatine and cherry powder
  • Use acerola powder in protein balls, muesli bars or baking
  • Look for snacks, trail mixes and multivitamins containing acerola cherry
  • Use acerola capsules or tablets as a daily vitamin C boost

The possibilities are endless. Acerola cherry powder is ideal for adding a nutrient boost to both sweet and savoury dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does acerola cherry grow?

Acerola cherry originates from tropical regions of Mexico, South America and Central America. Today it is grown commercially in various subtropical areas with Brazil being the largest producer.

What does acerola taste like?

Acerola cherries have a sweet and sour tropical flavour, often described as a cross between cherries, apricot and lime. When ripe, they taste tangy and slightly astringent with an aroma resembling green apples.

Is acerola cherry the highest source of vitamin C?

Yes! Acerola cherry is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C in the world. The density of vitamin C exceeds that of virtually every other fruit and vegetable, with just 100 grams providing over 1,600mg.

Is acerola good for skin?

The high vitamin C levels mean acerola is fantastic for skin health. Vitamin C aids collagen production which keeps skin firm. The antioxidants also help protect against environmental damage that accelerates aging. Using acerola powder in face masks or buying specialty creams containing acerola will benefit your skin.

Does acerola help you lose weight?

There is no direct proof that acerola will cause weight loss. However, the high nutrient content, antioxidants, and compounds that moderate blood glucose levels may offer indirect weight management benefits. Replacing unhealthy snacks with acerola cherries could also contribute to weight loss goals.

Is acerola safe during pregnancy?

In normal food amounts, acerola fruit is likely safe for pregnant women. However, due to lack of safety research, it’s best to avoid concentrated supplemental doses of acerola until more is known about appropriate dosing. Speak to your healthcare provider first.

So in summary, the humble yet mighty acerola cherry definitely lives up to its “superfruit” title! Give this tropical fruit a try and experience the benefits firsthand.

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