Category : Fruits
Nature’s Best Source of Real Vitamin C
The acerola cherry is a unique fruit that favors tropical or subtropical climates in both the eastern and western hemispheres. The fruit has been consumed for many years in the areas to which it is native, but has gained popularity worldwide recently due to its rich vitamin and antioxidant content.
The acerola cherry, formally known as Malpighia emarginata, is found in warm-weather areas across the globe. Th e plant requires a tropical or subtropical climate to prosper. In the western hemisphere, acerola cherry plants can be found in the southernmost areas of Florida and Texas, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. In the western hemisphere, acerola cherry plants are cultivated in Australia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Java, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Zanzibar.
Analysis has shown that the acerola is the richest source of vitamin C, of any fruit. In the 1940’s, large commercial plantings were established for processing, particularly for making Vitamin C tablets.
The acerola plant is a small tree shrub that maintains its leaves year round. Typically, the plant grows to a height of 6.5 feet to 10 feet, though some reach 20 feet. Acerola plants have branches that produce leaves, flowers and fruit.
Acerola leaves are green and glossy, with an ovular shape. Its flowers have five petals and 10 stamens, and range in color from pale pink to red. Acerola cherries tend to be about 1 inch in diameter and grow in pairs or trios, and each fruit contains three seeds.
Varieties and Other Names
Acerola cherry plants may also be referred to as Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry and wild crapemyrtle. Several different varieties of the plant have also been formulated to adapt to certain climates. Benefits
The benefits of the acerola cherry derive from its high nutrient concentration. The main nutrient in acerola cherries is vitamin C; according to the nutrition fact comparison tool at the website Healthaliciousness, acerola juice contains 32 times the amount of vitamin C found in orange juice. Vitamin C helps strengthen your immune system and protect from cardiovascular disease, eye problems and wrinkles. Acerola cherries also contain high levels of vitamin A, which is used in the treatment of eye and skin disorders, ulcers and sinus infections. The vitamin can also be used to raise sperm count and ease menstrual problems. In addition, acerola cherries contain significant levels of folate, used in making new cells, and potassium, used in blood pressure regulation.
As there are a number of antioxidants in acerola, it is a valuable fruit to add to our diet to help deal with free radicals, toxins, and stresses; repair of wounds, scar tissue, fractures and pain relief. The fruit contains B vitamins in the form of thiamin, riboflavin and niacin; and it is also a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorous and potassium. The sugar content (3.5 to 4.7%) is in the form of levulose, dextrose and sucrose.
While acerola cherries can be eaten directly from the plant, some people prefer not to due to their sour taste. However, acerola cherries can be used in recipes just like regular cherries, and can add a healthy boost to breads or muffins. A wide variety of acerola cherry supplements are also available. Common forms include acerola cherry powder and acerola cherry tablets.