Acerola berries: Benefits & Nutritional values

Acerola produces a fruit renowned throughout the world for its record content of vitamin C and other antioxidant active ingredients. The acerola berry is sometimes referred to as the West Indian cherry or the Barbados cherry because of its surprising resemblance to the cherry. As part of a varied and balanced diet, acerola would support the immune system and fight against the effects of oxidative stress. A precious health ally that it would be a shame to miss out on. 

Characteristics of acerola

  • Exceptional vitamin C content;
  • Strong antioxidant power;
  • Supports the immune system;
  • Helps prevent scurvy.

 Nutritional and caloric values ​​of acerola

Acerola is a small fruit with an atypical nutritional profile to say the least. With only 32 kcal, it is one of the very low-calorie fruits with a low sugar content. The acerola berry is also a source of fiber which promotes intestinal transit, digestive well-being and the feeling of satiety. 

However, it is above all for its impressive content of vitamin C and other antioxidant substances that acerola is renowned throughout the world. For good reason, antioxidants are precious health allies that help fight premature aging of cells and actively support the body’s immune defenses. 

For 100g of acerola berries:

NutrientsAverage content
Calories32 kcal
Carbohydrates7.6 g
Fibers1.1 g
Protein0.6 g
Lipids0.1 g
Vitamin C2850 mg
Vitamin A767 IU

 The benefits of acerola

Thanks to its unique nutritional profile, acerola is a real asset for our health. All the more so in winter when there is less sunshine and the immune system is strained. The rest of the year, acerola is a great ally in coping with episodes of great fatigue and stress. 

A record vitamin C content

Acerola berries contain an impressive amount of vitamin C. Indeed, knowing that the daily requirement is between 75 and 90 mg per day in an adult, the berries provide more than 2000 mg per serving. In addition to its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C contributes to the maintenance of the integrity of the skin, aids in wound healing, protects cells against premature aging caused by free radicals and facilitates immune functions. In addition, it facilitates the absorption of non-heme iron of plant origin.

READ ALSO:  Artichoke: cooking, recipe and health benefits

Acerola, source of antioxidants 

Acerola is also rich in carotenoids and flavonoids (cyanidin and quercetin), compounds with antioxidant effects.

An excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene 

Berries also contain vitamin A. Retinol is one of the active forms of vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is one of the most versatile vitamins, contributing to several functions of the body. Among other things, it contributes to the growth of bones and teeth, maintains the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision, especially in the dark. The berries also contain beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A with antioxidant power that limits oxidative stress and free radicals, molecules responsible for the aging of our cells. 

Beta-carotene may also improve certain functions of the immune system. In addition, these carotenoids are also studied in the fields of macular degeneration, cataracts, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer such as lung, oral cavity, pharynx and cervix. On the other hand, the data are not yet convincing.

Acerola and prevention of scurvy

The acerola berries were mainly used to prevent the appearance of scurvy, an ancient disease of the time of long sea crossings. Nowadays, the risk of scurvy is very low. Acerola is also used for the prevention of heart disease, the treatment of colds, the prevention of cancer and depression. However, scientific evidence on humans is insufficient to recommend acerola for the treatment of these various disorders. Further studies are yet to come.

A word from the nutritionist

Be careful, as acerola berries are mainly marketed in the form of juice, this makes it a less beneficial product for health. On the other hand, acerola supplementation in the form of food supplements (preferably organic) can be an excellent alternative to boost the immune system and fight against episodes of fatigue. 

READ ALSO:  Avocado, an exotic fruit with many benefits

 How to choose acerola berries?

Acerola is a tree that grows in the tropical forests of South America (Brazil and the Caribbean) and can reach up to 5 meters in height. It produces bright red fruits that resemble the European cherry. Its small fruits are also called cherries of Barbados or cherries of the Antilles.The diameter and the weight of the fruit vary respectively between 1 and 4 cm and between 2 and 15 g.

Acerola identity card

  • Family: squamous plants;
  • Origin: South America;
  • Season: July to December;
  • Red color ;
  • Flavor: tangy.

Preserve the acerola

Very rare on the shelves, fresh acerola fruits are also very fragile. It is therefore advisable to handle them with care and to consume them as quickly as possible, within 24 to 48 hours maximum. Acerola powder, which is much more widespread, has the advantage of keeping for several months in an airtight container, away from heat and humidity.

In what form to consume acerola? 

Acerola powder has many benefits. Indeed, acerola powder can be stored in a dry place for several months and is very easy to integrate into daily preparations. However, be careful to read the labels carefully to be sure that the manufacturer does not add color to the finished product. Naturally, acerola powder should be clear, not red. Acerola-based juices should be consumed in moderation because of their often very high content of added sugars. Finally, raw acerola is rarer and its acidic taste can make it difficult to integrate into cooking.

 How to prepare acerola

These small berries with a tangy taste are marketed mainly in the form of juice, food supplements or powder. Otherwise, they can also be incorporated into jams, candies or liqueurs.

Incorporate acerola powder in cooking

Perhaps the easiest way to enjoy acerola in the kitchen is to choose it in powder form. Acerola powder can be slipped into a multitude of preparations to make them much healthier but also more delicious: smoothies, juices, cake doughs, dessert creams, etc. 

READ ALSO:  Amber and cowpea

For the most daring cooks, acerola powder can also be used as a basic ingredient for making sauces, condiments and other dressings. A great way to add a touch of acidity and a good dose of vitamin C to savory dishes.

 Contraindications and allergies to acerola

There are very few contraindications to the consumption of acerola. However, its high vitamin C content can be a double-edged sword. Indeed, although excellent and essential for health, vitamin C should not be consumed in excess at the risk of disturbing the digestive system. 

Beware of excess vitamin C

The maximum tolerable intake for vitamin C is set at 2000 mg per day. Above this amount, megadoses can cause loose stools, diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset. For a healthy person, a surplus of vitamin C will be eliminated in the urine via the kidneys. However, in people predisposed to oxalic kidney stone formation, it would seem prudent to avoid high dose vitamin C supplementation.

 History and anecdotes

Acerola has been consumed for millennia by Amazonian Indians who have always understood its uniqueness and the extent of its health benefits. Originally, the acerola berry was a real therapeutic treatment intended to fight against diarrhea, dysentery and even liver disorders. It was not until the 16th century that the bay was discovered by settlers and then imported into Europe, it is also at this time that the final name of acerola was given to it. Quickly, the colonists in turn discovered the virtues of this small fruit which they used extensively during their travels to prevent scurvy, a fatal disease prevalent at the time. 

It was only in the 1950s that the virtues of acerola began to be the subject of serious scientific studies. Since then, acerola has acquired the status of “super food” throughout the world, just like spirulina, goji berry or even acai.