Acerola, also known as the "Barbados cherry," is native to the Caribbean and the rainforests of Latin America, mainly the Amazon. This fruit grows on a wild shrub and quickly appears after the tree's flowering, which happens about three times a year. Known for its exceptional vitamin C content, acerola's juicy, tart flesh has made it a standout superfood. The name "acerola" is derived from Spanish, meaning "maple cherry," a name bestowed by Spanish conquerors who called the tree that bears it the "tree of health." Traditionally, Indigenous people used acerola to treat dysentery, and later settlers used it to combat scurvy—a deadly disease caused by severe vitamin C deficiency that plagued sailors in the 15th and 16th centuries. Scientific research into acerola's many therapeutic qualities didn't begin until the 20th century.
A 1997 study showed that acerola contains 1 to 2 grams of vitamin C per 100 grams of pulp, making it 15 to 30 times richer in vitamin C than an orange! Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, light, and oxidation and is not produced by the human body. Thus, it's essential to get it from our diet, as it's involved in hundreds of bodily processes. The high bioavailability of acerola's vitamin C, due to the presence of flavonoids, makes it an excellent choice for fighting viral and bacterial infections, preventing fatigue, and enhancing iron absorption.
But acerola's nutritional richness doesn't stop there. This Caribbean cherry also contains:
- Beta-carotene: An important precursor to vitamin A, vital for healthy vision, immune system function, and skin health. It's also a potent cancer-fighting nutrient.
- Polyphenols: Known for maintaining youthful skin and providing cardiovascular benefits, including combating cholesterol oxidation and balancing blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, acerola is a great source of essential vitamins and minerals like:
- B1 (Thiamine) and B6 (Pyridoxine): Important for energy production and nervous system function.
- Iron: Essential for oxygen transport and storage in our bodies.
- Magnesium: Important for memory, concentration, and stress resistance.
- Phosphorus and Calcium: Vital for bone health and dental strength.
A "Superfruit" Bursting with Benefits
- Immunity Booster: Acerola is a natural remedy for rejuvenating the body, particularly useful during winter when fresh fruits and veggies (rich in vitamin C) are less available.
- Anti-Anemic: Acerola can help combat anemia by aiding in the absorption of iron, especially when taken with meals.
- Anti-Inflammatory: A 2003 study highlighted its efficacy in reducing inflammation in immune cells.
- Anti-Pathogen: This superfruit fights against fungi and bacteria, as demonstrated in studies conducted in Guatemala and Japan.
- Anti-Cancer: High concentrations of vitamin C make acerola an effective antioxidant that fights against cell degeneration.
- Anti-Cholesterol & Anti-Obesity: Acerola's rich antioxidant content helps prevent cholesterol oxidation and obesity-related liver and kidney damage.
At Parantaga, we've combined the benefits of acerola for skin and bone health with high-quality marine collagen in our Collagen Beauty Superpowder. This powerful combination offers excellent collagen absorption, rejuvenating and protecting your skin.
How to Consume This Precious Fruit?
The tart taste of acerola makes it hard to eat as a whole fruit, so it's typically found in the form of juice, powder, tablets, or capsules. For best results, choose a product made from natural acerola, as its vitamin C is more readily absorbed than synthetic forms.
Recommended daily intake is between 500 and 700 mg, with a one-month dosage of up to 1000 mg for adults, especially beneficial in winter months. Cycles can be spaced, such as 3 weeks on, one week off, to prevent continuous intake.
Precautions: Acerola should not be combined with anticoagulants, estrogen, or other specific medications. It's also not recommended for those with kidney stones or gout. Side effects may include gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or cramps.
In summary, acerola is a nutritional powerhouse rich in vitamin C and other vital biomolecules, making it a fantastic addition to a healthy lifestyle. Ongoing research may reveal even more health benefits in the future.