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Health Benefits Of Acerola Cherries, A Powerhouse Of Vitamin C

Acerola cherries (Malpighia emarginata DC.) is among the richest and natural source of vitamin C or ascorbic acid, along with a plethora of phytonutrients such as flavonoids, carotenoids, amino acids, terpenoids and anthocyanins.

This superfood contains 50-100 times more vitamin C compared to orange or lemon. Also, vitamin C in acerola is only comparable to CamuCamu, another type of berry. [1]

Acerola is also known as Barbados cherry or West Indian cherry. It is green when raw and changes to yellow then red when matured.

It contains a high antioxidant capacity due to the presence of vitamin C. This is also the reason why this potent functional food has become a global demand for the scientific community and pharmaceutical companies over the last few days.

In India, acerola cherries are mainly found in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chennai, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands due to tropical and humid climates.

Let's know more about the health benefits of acerola cherries.

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Nutritional Profile Of Acerola Cherries

100 g of fresh acerola cherries contain 91.41 g of water and 32 kcal of energy. They also contain nutrients such as ascorbic acid, fibre, folate, potassium and others, as aforementioned.

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Health Benefits Of Acerola Cherries

1. Have anti-ageing properties

Free radicals cause damage to the collagen of the skin which is responsible for skin strength and elasticity. This results in the ageing of the skin. Antioxidants in acerola may help reduce oxidative stress and prevent damage to the skin, thus preventing premature ageing. This is the reason why acerola is widely used by many cosmetic industries in anti-ageing creams.

2. Rich in antioxidants

As aforementioned, acerola cherries are rich in antioxidants nutrients such as ascorbic acid, carotenoids and phenolics. It may help prevent various diseases such as chronic heart diseases and inflammatory diseases caused due to free radical damage to cells.

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3. Lower glucose levels

Acerola juice is recommended by experts for the prevention of hyperglycemia in diabetics. The juice prepared from acerola cherries significantly help in lowering the glucose levels, along with reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, one of the major complications of diabetes. The juice is also helpful for women during gestational diabetes. [2]

4. Promote liver health

Acerola fruit powder extract is significantly used to reduce the inflammation of the liver. A study has shown that the hepaprotective effects of acerola are related to its antioxidants nutrients like vitamin C that help neutralise free radicals and protect the liver from damage. [3]

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5. Have antimicrobial properties

The ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids in acerola exhibit antimicrobial activity. Acerola cherries may help kill a wide range of harmful microorganisms and prevent their growth. Acerola is also known to prevent thermo-resistant and acid-resistant bacteria. [4]

6. Have cancer-preventive property

According to a study, pretreatment with acerola extract can help inhibit the proliferation or rapid multiplication of cells that lead to tumorigenesis (formation of cancer). Acerola suppresses the formation of cancer at the initial stage and thus, may prevent its risk. [5]

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7. Boost immune system

As aforementioned, acerola contains 50-100 times more vitamin C than lemon or orange. Vitamin C has the ability to donate an electron and thus, prevents free radical damage to various cells. When the cellular functions are well-maintained in the body, the immune defence system gets stronger and thus, protects the body from infections. [6]

8. Prevent DNA damage

DNA damage is not only related to cancer but other serious conditions such as Li-Fraumeni-syndrome. Toxic metal ions can cause DNA damage due to oxidative stress. Vitamin C in acerola juice is very helpful in neutralising the reactive ions of chelate metals. This prevents DNA damage and also helps in their repair. [7]

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9. Promote weight loss

Ascorbic acid has beneficial effects on excessive body fat. It may help prevent obesity and related complications such as diabetes and heart diseases. This antioxidant-rich fruit helps burn obesity fat and degrade triglycerides in adipose tissues, thus promoting weight loss. [8]

10. Good for digestion

Acerola cherries help aid digestive problems such as indigestion, flatulence, bloating and bowel problems. The antioxidant properties of this superfood help balance the gut microbiome, which in turn, maintains good gastrointestinal health.

11. Improve cognitive functions

Raw green acerola contains 4.51 per cent of pectin. This unique fibre in acerola may help prevent the risk of brain tumours and improve cognitive functions, especially in type 2 diabetics. It also helps treat fatigue and brain injury caused due to aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage. [9]

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Uses Of Acerola Cherries

Acerola is used in many forms such as

● juices,

● powder,

● frozen fruits,

● jams,

● frozen juice concentrate,

● ices,

● gelatins,

● marmalade,

● sweets and

● liquors.

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How Much To Take

The recommended daily intake of ascorbic acid for adults (above 19 years) is 90 mg/day for men and 75 mg/day for women.

The natural content of ascorbic acid in acerola is 1000 to 4500 mg per 100 g.

Therefore, the consumption of around three acerola cherries can help satisfy the recommended vitamin C for an adult.

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How To Prepare Acerola Juice

Ingredients:

● Two cups of acerola cherries (raw or ripe).

● Around one litre of water.

● Sugar alternatives like honey or maple syrup.

● Ice (optional).

Methods

● Blend acerola cherries and water in a blender.

● Using a sieve, remove all the solids.

● Transfer to a juice jar and add sweetener (if preferred).

● You can reduce the water content if you are putting ice.

● Serve.

Remember: Unripe acerola fruits (green colour) contains higher antioxidants compared to ripe ones (red colour). Also, 150 g of the pulp of acerola per litre of water is the best composition. [10]