The acerola cherry, otherwise known as the Barbados or West Indian Cherry, is a fruit that grows in the warm and dry areas of the Earth, since it has poor tolerance to cold and windy climates.
Where Can You Find Acerola Cherry Trees?
Linguistic evidence indicates the acerola comes fro Yucatan and is distributed from South Texas through Mexico all the way to Southern America. It’s been distributed through Central America to the northern side of Southern America and throughout the Caribbean, so you can find this wonderful fruit in countries like Venezuela, Columbia, Trinidad and Bahamas. Meanwhile, the acerola cherry has been also introduced in other sub-tropical areas throughout the world, such as Southeast Asia and India.
The acerola cherry is really a wondrous fruit offering a myriad of health benefits and it’s unfortunately insufficiently exploited across the globe. Brazil however has discovered its numerous properties and started commercializing the acerola fruit, based on the structured agro-industrial market the country built throughout the years. For the time being, Brazil is the country where this fruit is planted and exploited the most, leading the way worldwide.
How Can You Recognize the Acerola Cherry?
The acerola cherry is very much similar to common cherries, but they have a 3-lobed shape, which gives it a particular look. This cherry is typically bright red, rarely yellow-orange with skin that is thin and can be easily bruised. The acerola cherry develops on a shrub that can grow really quickly, being able to reach even 15 ft in height.
The Malpighia emarginata shrub is bushy and has multiple branches, but can be pruned according to your taste, until you reach the desired shape. The branches are easily broken and the leaves dark green, with a glossy finish when mature and tiny hairs that can irritate the skin upon touching.
When eating an acerola cherry, you can expect to bite into a juicy pulp, with a nearly acid taste, with sweet apple notes.
What Are the Health Benefits of the Acerola Cherry?
The acerola cherry is an antioxidant tropical fruit that embraces a wide variety of health benefits proven to improve the body’s overall health.
If we look at the composition of the acerola cherry, as 100 grams of fresh weight, we can see why this fruit is just so amazing. You can benefit from 0.40 g of protein, 1.1 g of dietary fiber, 12 mg of calcium and 0.20 iron. You will also benefit from 18 mg of magnesium, 146 mg of potassium, 11 mg of phosphorus, 7 mg of sodium, 0.10 mg of zinc. The total ascorbic acid in 100 grams of fresh acerola cherries amounts to 1677.6 mg. You’ll find this fruit also contains riboflavin, thiamine, folate, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin A.
This fruit contains an impressive amount of vitamin C, which makes this fruit an important addition to any healthy diet. However it’s important to note that the riper the fruit is, the less vitamin C it begins to contain – and it ripens pretty quickly. Studies show this fruit even contains higher amounts of vitamin C than other well-known vitamin C-containing fruits out there, such as strawberries or oranges.
Vitamin C, together with vitamin A, both contained in the acerola cherry, are important antioxidants that fight the free radicals in the body responsible with the body’s natural cellular aging process. Studies show the acerola cherry is a proven antioxidant-powerhouse.
Vitamin C is the single most important vitamin responsible with maintaining the health of the body’s immune system. When the immune system is robust, it can help your body more efficiently fight off viruses and infections. Due to its vitamin C content, the acerola cherry can also be used against the cold and the flu, provided of course, you also fight these afflictions with medicine and a well-balanced diet.
The acerola cherry is also known for being an astringent, similar to witch hazel. This makes it an important ingredient in the cosmetic industry, since it helps treat blemishes and support skin elasticity. This is why you may find a myriad of cosmetic items that incorporate this wonder fruit in their composition.
The acerola cherry also does wonders for the digestive system, helping with troublesome bowel movement.
How Do You Use Acerola Cherry?
The acerola cherry is widely consumed in its raw shape, as a result of its high nutritious value. But it’s delicious taste makes it a great addition to homemade sweets and baked goodies. You can include it in pies, tarts and cakes, for a fresh and invigorating taste.
You can just as well make smoothies including acerola cherries together with other delicious antioxidant fruits or you can sprinkle these fruits in your morning yogurt along with nutritious granola. You can also easily make acerola cherry juice, but it’s important to keep in mind this fruit’s high perish-ability degree, which means the juice will also have a short-spanned life.
You can either buy them fresh from organic producers or from your local supermarkets. Either way, you can choose to buy them for one-time consumption or buy them in bulk, so you can dry them or freeze them up in order to use them later on, when you need them.
You’ll also find the acerola cherry is very popular in powdered form and can be taken as a regular supplement that completes a healthy diet. Many people integrate acerola cherries in their daily diets as supplements, chewables and capsules. The powder is however so often chosen against other forms because it is very versatile. You can add this powder to everything you consume – to your smoothies, into your morning drinks, you can sprinkle it on cakes and baked goodies.
Of course, as with any other product you consume excessively there can be unpleasant side effects to eating large quantities of acerola cherries. If you take too much, you may experience frequent urination, digestive cramps, dizziness or fainting, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and so on. If you’ve noticed you’re taking large doses, you can gradually decrease the amount of your acerola cherries and vitamin C intake.
Researches have shown that one of the acerola cherry benefits can reduce and relieve headaches in an instant. The acerola contains high amounts of vitamin C that by simply eating the fruit itself, feels like you’ve just taken one tablet of ibuprofen or aspirin.
Here are some of the other acerola cherry health benefits:
- prevents scurvy
- stops diarrhea
- eases constipation
- relieves sore throat
- cures colds and other sinus infections
- prevent dysentery
- treats eye and skin disorders
- stops ulcer and other stomach ailments
Here is a product list containing the power fruit and where to buy acerola cherries:
Top Products Containing the Acerola Cherry:
- Calcium Pyruvate 90 VegiCaps
- 100% Natural Vitamin C from Acerola Cherry 365 Capsule
- Pure Acerola Cherry Powder Organic
- Natural Vitamin C Vitamins Acerola Powder-1 Lb
You can take acerola cherry by the fruit itself or you can add them up to your favorite cherry recipes or beverages.
How Can You Grow Your Own Acerola Cherries?
If you cannot get access to acerola cherry in your region or country, you can always plant this wonderful fruit yourself. The acerola cherry shrub has pretty shallow roots, so you won’t need a pot that’s larger than 60 cm (24 inches) in depth and in width. This size is particularly recommended if you want to grow the acerola cherry for its fruits. However this shrub is also a great substitute for a bonsai tree, so you can get a smaller pot if you’re planning on growing it for aesthetic reasons.
Be sure your pot has enough holes on the bottom to ensure proper drainage. First you want to add a layer of gravel or stones in order to facilitate drainage and then add good potting soil. To this add quality compost and fertilizer that will gradually release nutrients to further nourish the soil. The acerola prefers the sun and reacts poorly to the cold and the wind, so it’s recommended that when autumn comes, you bring it inside. If you have a greenhouse, it’s indicated that you keep your acerola cherry bush there all year along. You will also need to regularly check on the pH of the soil. If it drops below 6.5, you can simply add a tablespoon of lime and mix it in with the soil.
All in all, the acerola cherry is one of nature’s most precious natural gifts that can be used in a wide variety of ways in order to support the body’s immune system. If you want to benefit from it all year long, simply order it from an organic producer and dry your acerola cherries or freeze them, so you can safely store them and consume them later on into the year.