Acerola cherry, scientific name Malpighia emarginata, also known as West Indian cherry, is a bush that grows in the warm climates of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Its fruits are cherry-like berries with extraordinary properties for health and the immune system. Here you can find acerola berry in the form of a supplement in pharmacies, herbalists and specialty stores. But let's try to understand the extraordinary properties of this red berry.
Acerola cherry, nutrients
Acerola cherry is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C. In fact, with its 1500-4500 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of product, acerola contains 50 to 100 times the amount of vitamin C of lemon or orange! Also noteworthy is the fact that the vitamin C of acerola is absorbed more easily than the synthetic vitamin C, thanks to the fact that different substances work in synergy in acerola that allow easy assimilation of vitamin C (Prakash et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2018). Not only that, acerola cherry also contains valuable antioxidant substances, such as carotenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids, even in larger quantities than pineapple or mango. In addition to these anti-aging substances, acerola also contains mineral salts, such as potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and zinc, and vitamins such as groups B and A (Prakash et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2018).
Acerola and the immune system
The vitamin C contained in acerola makes this berry a valuable ally for the health of the immune system. In fact, vitamin C is immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory, supports the activity of the cells of the immune system and increases their ability to destroy pathogens (Gombart et al, Nutrients, 2020). Not only that, vitamin C protects the health of the airways and reduces the risk of contracting infections, such as colds, and their duration (Bucher et al, Am J Lifestyle Med, 2016).
Acerola and anti-aging properties
Thanks to its valuable antioxidant content, acerola helps to counteract the damage of free radicals and cellular degeneration. Not only that, thanks to its antioxidants, acerola helps protect the skin from UV damage by helping to prevent blemishes, premature aging and wrinkles, also because vitamin C, of which acerola is rich, stimulates the production of collagen. (Hanamura et al, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 2008 - Gombart et al, Nutrients, 2020).
Acerola and blood sugar
Acerola is capable of counteracting high blood sugar. Not only that, acerola also helps to improve the lipid profile in the blood in the presence of diabetes. In fact, studies have shown that, even in the case of high blood sugar, acerola has been able to increase the values of good HDL cholesterol and lower the values of bad LDL cholesterol. This effect is important as it means that acerola helps reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease (Barbalho et al, Exp Diabetes Res, 2011).
Acerola and obesity
Obesity is associated with a higher risk of damage caused by free radicals. However, what has been observed is that the intake of acerola has allowed to counteract and even reverse, if already present, the damage caused by free radicals at the level of the kidneys and liver (Leffa et al, Mutat Res, 2014). Not only that, acerola has also been able to reduce inflammation levels. Chronic inflammation can lead, in the long run, to an increased risk of accumulating extra pounds, as well as causing cardiovascular and mood problems. Indeed, it has been observed by scientific studies that the intake of acerola has helped to counteract weight gain, the increase of cholesterol and triglycerides (Dias et al, Lipids Health Dis, 2014).
Acerola, how it is taken and possible side effects
Acerola is mainly found in the form of supplements, also because the fresh fruit, once harvested, lasts a few days and then immediately undergoes deterioration, losing many of its very interesting properties.
As for the dosage, the advice is to follow the instructions on the package.
Alternatively, you can find frozen acerola pulp in some specialty stores to use in making juices and smoothies.
As for the possible side effects, acerola, as well as other foods rich in vitamin C, if taken in excessive quantities can cause stomach problems. Avoid acerola even if you suffer from kidney stones as it could cause a worsening of this condition.