Acerola Cherry: Nutrition Content, Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

This fruit goes by many names—Barbados cherry, wild crapemyrtle, and West Indian myrtle, to name a few. However, it is more known to the public as the acerola cherry.

This tiny fruit is grown on small shrubs and evergreen acerola trees. They thrive in the warm climates of Central America, South America, Florida, California, and Texas.

These cherries grow to a diameter of 0.5 to 1 inch. They then develop into bright red cherries. These cherries decline quickly after they are picked. The cherries exhibit unattractive changes about 4 hours after harvest. They ferment quickly and are unusable within 3 to 5 days. When they are frozen, they tend to fall apart as they thaw. They are best used in juices, syrups, and jams.

Origins of the Acerola Cherry

Acerola also has a long history as an ornamental plant. It’s been used in the Japanese practice of bonsai. Also in Latin America, it’s frequently used to decorate tables, kitchens, and living rooms.

It’s believed the acerola cherry first began to grow in southern Mexico. Its cultivation quickly spread to other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America as news of its usefulness spread.

Research on the health benefits of Acerola first showed up in the 1940s from Puerto Rican researchers and continues to this day.

Acerola Cherry’s Nutrition Content

Like applesauce, the acerola cherry is also loaded with healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Below is a complete list.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
energy 32 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 7.69 g 6%
Protein 0.40 g <1%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g 2.5%
Folates 14 µg 3.5%
Niacin 0.400 mg 2.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.309 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.009 mg <1%
Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5%
Vitamin A 767 IU 26%
Vitamin C 1677.6 mg 1864%
Sodium 7 mg 0.5%
Potassium 146 mg 3%
Calcium 12 mg 1.2%
Copper 0.086 mg 9%
Iron 0.20 mg 2.5%
Magnesium 18 mg 4.5%
Phosphorous 11 mg 1.5%
Selenium 0.6 µg 1%
Zinc 0.10 mg 1%

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database

Acerola Cherry Benefits

Manages Diabetes

Studies show that antioxidants in the acerola cherry can help slow down the release of sugar in the bloodstream. Unlike Garcinia Cambogia, which really just helps with hunger, they can also lower blood sugar and insulin. The inconsistent rising and falling of these levels is dangerous for diabetics. These antioxidants can also help regulate blood sugar levels. In addition, the quercetin in the plant prevent the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).

Prevents Cancer

The high Vitamin B content found in the fruit helps reduce the risk of cancer, specifically of the cervix, breast, and skin.

Again, the antioxidants play a huge part in cancer prevention. They fight off harmful free radicals from the body. These free radicals are responsible for the mutation of healthy cells in the body to cancerous cells.

On another note, the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology published a study that found that acerola cherry extract helped stop the growth and spread of lung cancer.

Boosts the Immune System

Acerola Cherry Benefits

Vitamins C and A in the acerola cherry take the spotlight in helping the immune system. They help produce white blood cells. These cells are first in line in our body’s defense against foreign particles.

Vitamin C is also a crucial component of collagen. The collagen is responsible for the body to heal itself faster with repairing cells, organs, tissues, and blood vessels from illness or injury. In addition, it also controls the flow of interferons. Interferons are the chemicals that fight against infections caused by various viruses.

Delays Signs of Aging

For those who want to look and feel younger
than they really are, the acerola cherry is your best bet. It has properties that protect against oxidative stress. This causes premature aging. Its vitamin C content reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dry skin. It may also help slow down the process of aging.

Promotes Heart Health

Adding acerola cherry into your daily diet may help prevent cardiovascular disease. The high amount of vitamin C is also an excellent preventative for heart disease.

Potassium in this fruit dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow. This then reduces blood pressure. This lowers your chances of developing atherosclerosis and also prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Promotes Good Digestion

The dietary fiber in the acerola cherry helps boost digestive health. It also relieves bloating, constipation, cramping, diarrhea, gastric ulcers, and other gastrointestinal issues.

Aids in Weight Loss

Want to lose weight fast? The acerola cherry is the perfect go-to snack. Why? First of all, it is low carb, calories, and sodium. It also speeds up the metabolism and reduces the risk of obesity. This will help you achieve your ideal weight. The high fiber content can take the place of white kidney bean or acacia rigidula for slowing absorption.

Promotes Eye Health

The vitamin A, lutein, and beta-carotene content in the acerola cherry improves vision. They also prevent cataracts from forming and stop retinal hemorrhages. In addition, they also delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration, reduce the risk of retinitis pigmentosa, and improve night vision.

Improves Skin Condition

The high vitamin C content of the cherries helps form collagen, the building block of healthy skin. This keeps it toned and youthful in appearance. In addition, the anthocyanins help prevent inflammation in outer skin tissues, just as they do on the inside of the body.

Internal consumption of acerola extract can also have cosmetic uses. A study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry reports that the acerola cherry can hold back the formation of melanin, which then gives the skin a “lightening” effect.

A Word of Caution

The acerola cherry is safe for eating. It is also not an allergenic food. However, some people have reported negative reactions to eating them. These include upset stomachs, sleeplessness, and insomnia. Having too many acerola cherries can also cause diarrhea.

The high vitamin C content can also be dangerous if you suffer from gout or have kidney stones. Vitamin C can actually boost levels of uric acid.

If you are taking probiotics for weight loss
, avoid taking in these cherries too. It might also cause side effects of nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.

It is unknown if using acerola during pregnancy or lactation causes harmful side effects. As a measure of safety, it’s best to consult a physician before taking acerola supplements.


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