The acerola tree found in the southern areas of the United States, Mexico, South America, and the West Indies produces a brilliantly colored red berry that’s being increasingly recognized for its special health properties. This remarkable berry is being given the designation of superfruit due to its high nutritional value and its potential to protect against disease. Not only is it marketed for its fruit, it’s also being added to cosmetic products as a natural treatment for aging skin. What are the health benefits of acerola?
Acerola Health Benefits: It’s a Powerful Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that protects cells by reducing the effects of free radicals, those rogue particles that can wreck havoc on the cell’s DNA. It also helps to maintain healthy skin and connective tissue. Acerola is one of the very best sources of vitamin C, containing over thirty times the amount of vitamin C found in orange juice. This is an amazing statistic for a non-citrus fruit. The vitamin C content of acerola is actually higher in the more immature, green form of the fruit than in the fully mature bright red berry.
Acerola Health Benefits: It’s an Antioxidant Powerhouse
When it comes to antioxidant power, acerola is a winner. A comparison of the antioxidant activity of a variety of common fruits showed acerola to be among the very best. This is due to its high content of polyphenols, some of which are unique to this particular fruit. The bright red coloration of the fruit comes from its anthocyanin content, the same polyphenol that gives the acai berry and the blueberry their powerful antioxidant properties. These antioxidants protect against free radical formation which can be the precursor to a variety of diseases including cancer.
Acerola Health Benefits: They’re Low in Calories
One cup of fresh acerola cherries has only thirty-two calories making it a guilt-free, nutritionally dense snack food. Acerola is frequently marketed in the form of a bottled juice which may have significantly more calories than the fresh berries, particularly if sugar is added. The healthiest way to enjoy these superberries is in their natural fruit form without added sugar.
Acerola Health Benefits: Other Benefits
Because of the high vitamin C and antioxidant content of acerola berries, they may offer immune enhancing and anti-inflammatory benefits, although this has yet to be confirmed by research. Acerola powders, juices and extracts are often marketed as a way to treat medical conditions ranging from a cold to cancer, but there are no good studies to support these benefits as of yet.
Acerola Health Benefits: The Bottom Line?
Enjoy these berries for their high antioxidant and vitamin C content, but be wary of sources selling acerola extracts and powders with claims that they cure disease. Most of these benefits are unsubstantiated.