Acerola, the cherry-like fruit from Central and South America, is considered a natural vitamin C wonder and has great benefits.
In addition to the main ingredient Vitamin C, the tropical superfood contains a variety of vital vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that benefit our body.
Already the Mayas, one of the indigenous peoples of Central America, knew about the positive qualities and used Acerola to strengthen the body’s immune system.
With its highly effective antioxidants, the power fruit boosts the metabolism, renews cells and protects the cardiovascular system from the dangerous consequences of arteriosclerosis. Scientific studies suggest that regular consumption of acerola may reduce the risk of developing cancer.
What is Acerola?
The acerola tree, Malpighia glabra (also called Malpighia punicifolia or Malpighia emarginata), is a famous plant in South America.
Acerola is frugal and grows basically everywhere. The evergreen plant thrives on moist river banks, on the roadside or on dry limestone as well as on the rocky ground. As a tree or shrub, the acerola reaches a stature height of 1 to 3 meters.
During the rainy season, the acerola tree produces either white or light red to pink colored flowers. The Acerola fruits ripen out within 25 days, allowing up to 4 crops a year in the tropics. The spherical stone fruit has a diameter of 1 to 3 cm and has a reddish to orange-yellow color. Since the outer skin is thin and tears quickly, the acerola fruit is not suitable for prolonged transport.
Although the juicy pulp tastes very sour, Acerolas are eaten fresh in the growing areas. In addition, the fruits are processed into jams, juices, and various extracts. The high content of ascorbic acid often results in the production of large amounts of added sugar.
Benefits from Acerola’s Vitamin C
Numerous manufacturers produce around 80,000 tonnes of ascorbic acid per year worldwide with an upward trend.
China, meanwhile, has also discovered the billion-dollar market and is flooding Western countries with cheap imports. Synthetic and natural vitamin C are identical according to the advertising claims of the producers. But is this really the case?
From a chemical point of view, vitamin C is ascorbic acid. There are no deviations in the structure of these two molecules. To understand the difference between a natural product that contains vitamin C and artificial ascorbic acid, take a look at the results of clinical trials.
In the 1970s, Scottish physician Ewan Cameron investigated the effects of high-dose vitamin C in cancer patients. In collaboration with the two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, he subsequently published the results in renowned specialist journals.
Using placebo-controlled double-blind studies, doctors at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in the US tried to confirm the results but failed. For this reason, the promising therapeutic approach with vitamin C has not yet prevailed in conventional cancer treatment.
But why did both research groups come to opposite conclusions?
In all cases, the scientists used synthetic ascorbic acid. The only difference was in the dosage form. Cameron injected Vitamin C into his patients, the physicians at the Mayo Clinic used only tablets or capsules. The positive study results are therefore due to the intravenous administration of vitamin C.
The problem with using a synthetically produced ascorbic acid is in pharmacokinetics. By this term, biochemists understand the uptake, breakdown, and excretion of an active ingredient in the human body. When using oral dosage forms, it is not possible to achieve a sufficiently high vitamin C concentration, so that the health-promoting effect is low. For the best benefits, you need natural vitamin c.
Our body tolerates artificially produced vitamin C in the form of tablets, capsules or powders within narrow limits. After taking a vitamin C-containing dietary supplement, the concentration of the active ingredient in the blood increases only slightly. The attempt to supply higher amounts of ascorbic acid is mainly blocked by uptake in the intestine.
In addition, vitamin C is rapidly eliminated via the urine. In comparison, the acerola fruit not only contains vitamin C but also has a variety of different biomolecules. The pharmacokinetics of this natural mixture behave fundamentally differently and can not be compared with pure ascorbic acid.
A Japanese study showed that our body absorbs vitamin C from acerola juice more effectively and excretes much slower than artificially produced ascorbic acid. That is another great benefit of Acerola.
The researchers attribute this benefit to the secondary plant compounds of the acerola cherry. According to the recommendations of the Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food in Karlsruhe (Max Rubner Institute), consumers should prefer gently processed acerola extracts to artificial vitamin C preparations.
Nutritional Values of Acerola
The acerola cherry contains a variety of vital nutrients and nutrients. Their health-promoting effect is based above all on the perfect interaction of the high-quality ingredients.
Nutritional values of acerola:
- Calorific value: 32 kcal
- Carbohydrates 7.69 g
- Proteins 0.4 g
- Fats 0.3 g
The small amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that the pulp provides are hardly relevant for our metabolic processes. The benefits of acerola lie in its valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Beneficial Vitamins in Acerola
The acerola fruit is more than 90% water and contains only water-soluble vitamins. The most important ingredient is vitamin C.
Depending on location, growing conditions and degree of ripeness, 100 g of the fruit contain between 700 mg and 4.8 g of natural vitamin C. The more immature the fruit, the higher the vitamin content.
In comparison, in the same amount of lemons or oranges that are often touted as vitamin C miracles, only about 50 mg of vitamin C.
Thus, the small Acerola cherry has a 30 to 90 times higher vitamin C level as citrus fruit. These amazing numbers are only surpassed by the Australian bush plum and the fruits of the Camu Camu shrub from the Amazon region.
In detail, the acerola contains the following vitamins:
- Vitamin C (1678 mg)
- Vitamin B1 (0.02 mg)
- Vitamin B2 (0.06 mg)
- Vitamin B3 (0.4 mg)
- Vitamin B6 (0.009 mg)
- Folic acid (14 ?g)
- Beta carotene (38 ?g)
The abbreviation μg means microgram. For conversion into milligrams, the following applies: 1000 μg corresponds to 1 mg.
Secondary Plant Compounds of Acerola
In addition to the high vitamin C content, the special combination of phytochemicals is of great importance for human health and an important benefit of Acerola.
The term secondary phytochemicals or phytochemicals summarizes a group of about 100,000 substances with different chemical structures, of which between 5,000 and 10,000 are found in our food.
According to previous scientific findings, these, although they are not among the essential nutrients in humans, affect many metabolic processes in our organism.
The acerola cherry mainly contains anthocyanins, carotenoids, pectins and various flavonoids, such as rutin, which have many effects on the human organism.
Flavonoids and anthocyanins belong to the class of polyphenols which, as antioxidants, protect our organism from oxidative stress. Researchers were recently able to isolate a novel flavonoid from acerola that has not previously been found in other fruits.
The great importance of phytochemicals has been repeatedly proven by scientific studies.
In addition to their antioxidant properties, flavonoids are anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-allergic. In addition, they support the body’s healing reactions and prevent the spread of viruses, bacteria, and fungi in the body.
Minerals in Acerola
In addition to vitamins and phytochemicals, acerola fruit contains many vital minerals and trace elements.
Strictly speaking, the latter also belong to the group of minerals. However, since the body requires them only in very small quantities, these substances are referred to in science as trace elements.
With a content of 146 mg per 100 g, potassium has the highest concentration of all minerals in the acerola fruit.
As an electrolyte, the positively charged potassium ion is an integral part of our body cells. It regulates the water balance and performs important tasks in various metabolic processes.
Our nerves and muscles need sufficient amounts of the versatile mineral. Together with sodium and calcium, potassium affects the heart and blood pressure. A potassium deficit can, therefore, have serious consequences for our health.
The following minerals are contained in the fruits of the acerola cherry:
- Potassium (146 mg)
- Magnesium (18 mg)
- Calcium (12 mg)
- Phosphorus (11 mg)
- Sodium (7 mg)
- Zinc (0.1 mg)
- Iron (0.02 mg)
In addition to calcium, phosphorus is the most common mineral in our body. As a phosphate, the vital mineral participates in energy metabolism and stores the released energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
As a component of numerous enzymes, the trace element zinc is involved in important biochemical processes of our body. It plays a crucial role in cell division and strengthens the immune system. In addition, zinc ensures healthy growth of hair and skin and supports wound healing.
8 Essential Acerola Benefits
The valuable ingredients of acerola have many beneficial effects on the human body.
In addition to the high content of vitamin C, especially the phytochemicals have great importance for our health. Who consumes the power fruit regularly, benefits in many ways.
- strengthens the immune system
- reduces histamine levels in the blood and can alleviate the symptoms of allergies
- normalizes elevated blood sugar levels
- lowers homocysteine levels and protects the cardiovascular system
- prevents cell aging
- prevents the formation of dangerous nitrosamines
- detoxifies the body
- fights cancer cells
In addition to the main component of vitamin C, especially the polyphenols play a major role. The perfect cooperation of all ingredients results in an antioxidant power that surpasses most other foods significantly.
Antioxidant Benefits of Acerola
Free radicals are the main cause of many chronic diseases and are the main cause of premature skin aging. The extremely aggressive substances are unstable oxygen compounds that damage our body cells. Scientists often talk about oxidative stress in this context.
Chemically, radicals are particles with an incompletely closed outer electron shell. In a stable molecule, all electrons are in pairs and can not participate in chemical reactions without further activation. The reactive radicals, on the other hand, have at least one unpaired electron in search of a partner.
When a radical encounters another molecule, it snatches one of the electrons and closes its outer shell. This “theft” lacks an electron from the other particle, transforming it into a new radical. In a chain reaction, new free radicals are formed, destroying important components of our cells.
The reactive particles are formed in many endogenous processes. They can also be supplied from the outside. Smokers absorb about 100 trillion free radicals each time they pull their cigarette.
Antioxidants are among the antagonists of these dangerous substances and are able to effectively neutralize them.
The molecules of ascorbic acid voluntarily release one of their electrons from the free radicals without turning themselves into a radical. In this way, the cells are protected from oxidative stress.
The electron-free ascorbic acid is then excreted by the body without causing any damage.
With its high antioxidant benefits, acerola naturally supports our body in combating oxidative stress caused by free radicals. For this reason, the ingredients of power fruit have a beneficial effect on the course of various diseases.
Conclusion: Acerola Benefits
Acerola comes with great benefits. I am surly a believer of high vitamin c dosages, even if the effects have yet to be proven.
My recommendation: Start implementing Acerola in your diet.
Acerola has great benefits and comes with no downsides. For everyone who is looking to optimize their health, acerola will be highly beneficial.