Aug 14, 2023
Acerola (Malpighia emarginata) is a rich source of vitamin C in the natural form of ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is an essential dietary nutrient, playing a role in immune system and enhance overall health. Vitamin C is also vital for collagen production, encouraging cell turnover and helping the skin to maintain a youthful, wrinkle-free appearance. It is also needed to maintain the health and structure of your bones and blood vessels.
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.
Vitamin A plays a role in visual health, average growth and ongoing development, red blood cell production, and protecting the immune system.
Additional micronutrients found to a lesser degree in the fruit include several B-vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Each of which is necessary for a regular diet. Protein, fibre, and fatty acids, essential macronutrients of the diet, are also in the fruit.
The scientific community and pharmaceutical companies have over the last few years become increasingly more and more interested in the health benefits of Acerola because of the amount of ascorbic acid in the range of 1500–4500 mg/100 g, found within it, this is approximately 50–100 times more than that of an orange or lemon.
Acerola is also known as: Barbados cherry, Magic Cherry, West Indian cherry and Cereza, Cerisier, Antilles cherry, and Semeruco, with origins in the Yucatan, and is widely distributed throughout the hotter southern climates of the United States, like Florida and Texas and the Central and the northern part of South America. The plant is also cultivated throughout the Caribbean and sub-tropical regions.
Acerola is a small tree or bushy shrub that grows best in tropical type climates and has poor cold tolerance because of its shallow root systems. Its leaves are a glossy lush green, that varies between light and dark hues, and the flowering portion of the plan blossoms five small pink to white petals. The actual fruit of the plant is a bright red or yellow-orange, cherry sized lobe containing small seeds. The pulp of the fruit offers a delicately sweet aroma and taste but is acidic. The green or under-ripe fruit is said to contain twice the levels of Vitamin C as fully ripe fruit.
Historically, the natural form of the fruit was harvested and used to treat a host of ailments including diarrhea
or inflammation of the intestines. Today, it is a popular alternative supplement to take that helps ease the symptoms of the common cold.
Supplements are also used as energy boosters by athletes. Supplements can also be taken to help minimize the symptoms of depression and to relieve tooth and gum infections.
Studies have also shown that acerola, could be useful in the fight against obesity with a cardioprotective effect. Acerola combined with extracts of alfalfa and soy, have been known to block the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins, considered as the “bad” cholesterol!
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.
There was an increase in the planting of Acerola just after WWII when seedlings were distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture to families to plant in their Victory Gardens. Then, later in 1945 the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine released a food study of a botanical cousin of the Acerola, which said the fruit was found to be extremely high in ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C. This prompted one of the laboratory assistants to bring in a Barbados cherry for testing as many local people were said to be consuming the fruit when they had a cold.
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