The acerola cherry, otherwise known as 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 from Yucatan and is distributed from South Texas through Mexico to Southern America. In addition, it’s been distributed through Central America to the northern side of Southern America. You can find this excellent fruit throughout the Caribbean in countries like Venezuela, Columbia, Trinidad, and the Bahamas. Meanwhile, the acerola cherry has been introduced in other sub-tropical areas worldwide, such as Southeast Asia and India.
The acerola cherry is a great fruit offering many health benefits, and it needs to be exploited more globally. 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 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 similar to common cherries, but they have a 3-lobed shape, giving it a distinct look. This cherry is typically bright red, rarely yellow-orange, with thin skin, and can be easily bruised. The acerola cherry develops on a shrub that can grow rapidly, reaching even 15 ft in height.
The Malpighia emarginata shrub is bushy and has multiple branches, but it can be pruned according to your taste until you reach the desired shape. The branches are easily broken, and the leaves are dark green, with a glossy finish when mature and tiny hairs 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 various health benefits proven to improve the body’s overall health.
If we look at the composition of the acerola cherry, 100 grams of fresh weight, we can see why this fruit is 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, and 0.10 mg of zinc. The total ascorbic acid in 100 grams of fresh acerola cherries amounts to 1677.6 mg. 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 essential 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 contains higher amounts of vitamin C than other well-known vitamin C-containing fruits, such as strawberries or oranges.
Vitamin C and vitamin A, contained in the acerola cherry, are important antioxidants that fight the free radicals in the body responsible for the body’s natural cellular aging process. Studies show the acerola cherry is a proven antioxidant powerhouse.
Vitamin C is the single most crucial vitamin responsible for 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 essential ingredient in the cosmetic industry since it helps treat blemishes and support skin elasticity. This is why you may find many cosmetic items that incorporate this wonder fruit in their composition.
The acerola cherry also does wonders for the digestive system, helping with troublesome bowel movements.
How Do You Use Acerola Cherry?
The acerola cherry is widely consumed in its natural state due to its high nutritious value. But its 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 refreshing 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. Of course, you can also easily make acerola cherry juice, but it’s essential to keep in mind this fruit’s high perish-ability degree, which means the juice will also have a short-spanned life.
You can buy them fresh from organic producers or your local supermarkets. Either way, you can buy them for one-time consumption or in bulk, so you can dry them or freeze them up 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 into their daily diets as supplements, chewable, and capsules. However, the powder is often chosen against other forms because it is versatile. You can add this powder to everything you consume – to your smoothies, into your morning drinks, and sprinkle it on cakes and baked goodies.
Of course, as with any other product you consume excessively, eating large quantities of acerola cherries can have unpleasant side effects. 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.
Research has shown that one of the acerola cherry benefits can reduce and relieve headaches instantly. The acerola contains high amounts of vitamin C; eating the fruit 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 ulcers 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 add it to your favorite cherry recipes or beverages.
How Can You Grow Your Acerola Cherries?
If you need access to acerola cherry in your region or country, you can always plant this excellent fruit yourself. The acerola cherry shrub has pretty shallow roots so you won’t need a pot more significant than 60 cm (24 inches) in depth and width. This size is recommended if you want to grow the acerola cherry for its fruits. However, this shrub is also an excellent substitute for a bonsai tree, so you can get a smaller pot if you plan to grow 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 to facilitate drainage and then add good potting soil. Next, add quality compost and fertilizer that gradually release nutrients to nourish the soil further. 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 long. You will also need to check the pH of the soil regularly. If it drops below 6.5, add a tablespoon of lime and mix it with the soil.
The acerola cherry is one of nature’s most precious natural gifts that can be used in various ways to support the body’s immune system. If you want to benefit from it all year long, order it from an organic producer and dry your acerola cherries or freeze them, so you can safely store them and consume them later in the year.