Acerola: Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, And Precautions

Reviewed by Dr. Archna Agrawal, MSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy
Written by Sindhu Koganti, BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

The benefits of acerola cherries are gaining the attention of many health enthusiasts and fitness freaks. These cherries were an integral part of traditional medicine. They were used to treat collagen disorders, immune disorders, and dental infections. These benefits can be attributed to its vital nutrients, including vitamin C. Additionally, they are used to treat liver ailments, diarrhea, cough, common cold, scurvy, and blood clots. These are also popularized as nutraceutical supplements. Many believe that acerola may also help manage hangovers. Read on to learn more about acerola cherries, the benefits they offer, and how you can include them in your diet.

What Is Acerola Cherry?

Acerola cherry (Malpighia emarginata) is more popularly referred to as West Indies cherry or Barbados cherry. It is native to the Caribbean, South America, and Mexico regions. These cherries are popular as juices, pulps, jams, and fruit concentrates. They appear blood-red due to the high content of anthocyanins (potent antioxidants). They taste sweet or sour, depending on the vitamin C concentration.

Let us check the important benefits of acerola cherries in the next section.

3 Benefits Of Acerola

1. May Boost Immunity

Acerola cherries have been used in folk medicine to ward off cold, cough, scurvy, and respiratory ailments. Studies suggest that acerola cherries are a great source of ascorbic acid and total vitamin C. As per research, vitamin C is essential for the immune system as it helps fight infections. It is a potent antioxidant that regulates multiple metabolic pathways.

Research has shown that supplementing your diet with vitamin C may help treat and prevent respiratory and systemic infections. 

2. May Help Improve Skin Health

Studies state that polyphenol extracts from acerola cherries have skin-lightening effects.

Another study published in the journal Nutrients states that vitamin C may help reduce inflammation and slow down the signs of aging. It helps fade fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. Collagen is integral to maintain skin structure and function. Vitamin C also helps accelerate wound healing and reduces hyperpigmentation.

Acerola cherries are also a good source of vitamin A. Research supports the role of vitamin A in slowing down aging, treating acne, and reducing the risk of cancer.

3. May Improve Brain Health

Animal studies state that acerola cherries help boost brain health due to their anti-fatigue activity. The anti-inflammatory properties of the cherries also help. Research shows that inflammation and stress may hurt cognitive function. However, more human studies are needed to understand how these cherries can help combat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

There is limited data supporting the anti-depressant and anti-fungal properties of acerola cherries. It is unclear if they can also boost athletic endurance and treat any gastrointestinal issues.

These are the few important benefits of acerola cherries. As discussed, these cherries have an impressive nutritional profile. Let us explore the same in the next section.

Nutrition Profile Of Acerola Cherries

A single serving size of acerola cherries (100 gm) has the following nutritional profile:

  • Calories: 32
  • Vitamin C: 1677mg
  • Vitamin A:767IU
  • Fiber: 1.1 g
  • Iron: 0.2mg
  • Calcium :12mg
  • Magnesium: 18mg
  • Phosphorus: 11mg 

Ways To Make Use Of Acerola Cherries In Everyday Life

  • You may use them as tinctures, as used in folk medicine.
  • You may also pick organic skin care formulations with acerola cherry extracts. These products can have anti-aging benefits.
  • You may also take acerola shots, acerola cherry powder, or freshly squeezed juice.

You can also try the following recipes with acerola cherries. 

  • Acerola cherry salsa

This simple salsa recipe is bound to be a hit in your Sunday brunches or cocktail parties.

You Will Need

  • 300g of acerola cherries
  • Small pinch of allspice
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of coriander
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 hot green chili
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 60ml of rapeseed oil
  • Pinch of salt 

Process

  1. Finely chop the chili, coriander, and garlic.
  2. Remove the stalks and seeds and crush the cherries. Keep the juice to one side and finely chop the cherries.
  3. Mix all ingredients and season to taste.
  • Acerola Cherries In Syrup

This is a classic and useful condiment. The cherries can also be used to top desserts.

You Will Need

  • 350 g of acerola cherries (fully ripe)
  • 240 g of sugar

Process

  1. Set a stainless-steel pan on low heat.
  2. Tip in the sugar and the cherries.
  3. Stir softly and continuously for 5 minutes. The sugar would have melted.
  4. Turn up the heat and stir continuously. Turn down the heat for a few moments if the syrup becomes too frothy and starts to rise. Turn the heat up again as soon as the froth subsides.
  5. Turn the heat off after cooking for 5 minutes on high heat. When cool, transfer to a clean, sun-dried, airtight glass jar.
  • Spinach Mango Smoothie With Acerola And Starfruit

A healthy way to kickstart your day is adding acerola cherries to your morning smoothies. Its antioxidants will boost your metabolism and improve skin health.

You Will Need

  • A handful of spinach
  • 150 g of frozen mangos
  • 50 g of frozen pineapples
  • 100 g of frozen acerola cherries
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 starfruit
  • 500 ml of vanilla oat milk

Process

  1. Add all ingredients and blend them into a thick and creamy consistency.
  2. You can chill it for 15 minutes or have it as it is.

Dosage And Preparation

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient and rarely causes toxicity. However, check with your doctor before consuming high amounts of these cherries.

The dose of acerola cherries depends on your age and body weight. While there is limited information in this regard, it is always better to check with an expert. Be sure to follow the usage directions as stated on product labels. 

Side Effects And Precautions

Anecdotal evidence suggests that excess intake of acerola cherries may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea

The following individuals must practice extra caution before consuming these cherries. 

1. Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women

There are no specific studies suggesting the safety of acerola during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Stay safe and avoid use.

2. People With Kidney Stones

Excess vitamin C intake may increase the risk of kidney stones. Hence, individuals with kidney stones must consult their doctor before consuming acerola cherries.

3. People With Kidney Stones

Excess vitamin C intake may increase the risk of kidney stones. Individuals with kidney stones must consult their doctor before consuming acerola cherries. 

Acerola cherries are bright red, sweet fruits often used in jams, juices, and pulps. They are packed with potent antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that boost your overall health. The benefits of acerola range from boosting immunity to improving cognitive function. These health benefits are primarily attributed to their high vitamin C and polyphenol content. They also help rejuvenate your skin by diminishing the early signs of aging by reducing fine lines and wrinkles and evening out your skin tone. Acerola cherries may also help reduce inflammation, stimulate collagen production, and reduce acne. However, their overconsumption may cause problems. It may worsen gout or lead to kidney stones. It may also trigger allergies. You should stop eating them immediately and consult a doctor if any adverse reactions occur.

Key Takeaways

  • Acerola cherry appears blood-red due to its high anthocyanin content (potent antioxidants).
  • The anti-fatigue activity of acerola cherries may help boost brain health.
  • Their high vitamin C content may decrease uric acid levels and thus reduce gout flares.

References:

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Vitamin C and carotenoids in organic and conventional fruits grown in Brazil
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814610014019
  2. Vitamin C and Immune Function
    https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/11/1211
  3. Skin-Lightening Effect of a Polyphenol Extract from Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) Fruit on UVInduced Pigmentation
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1271/bbb.80421
  4. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/
  5. Retinoids and the Skin
    https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article-abstract/52/9/299/1890849
  6. Anti-fatigue activity of an arabinan-rich pectin from acerola (Malpighia emarginata)
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0141813017332336?via%3Dihub
  7. Effects of Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) Juice Intake on Brain Energy Metabolism of Mice Fed a Cafeteria Diet
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12035-016-9691-y
  8. Role of inflammation in cognitive impairment: results of observational epidemiological studies and clinical trials
    https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05726.x
The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Archna Agrawal

(MSc (Dietetics))
Dr. Archna Agrawal is a licensed naturopathy and yoga practitioner with over 20 years of experience in nutrition and counseling.... more

LATEST ARTICLES