While shopping in health food stores or online, you may have noticed a large variety of fancy fruit, vegetables and other plant powders. Although not all powders can be considered “healthy”, there are some who are actually very nutritious and worth trying. Acerola cherry powder happens to be one of them. So if you are like us and you have been wondering what all the fuss is about, keep on reading to find out what is acerola cherry powder exactly, and why you may want to give it a try.
What Is Acerola Cherry?
Acerola (Malpighia emarginata), is a plant that originally comes from Latin America and the Caribbean and produces small red fruits. Although this fruit does look like a cherry and is usually called acerola cherry or Barbados cherry, it is also known as acerola berry as it is, in fact, a type of berry that grows on shrubs (small trees).
Even though acerola is relatively new for most of us, it has actually been used for a very long time by native populations for health and medicinal purposes.
Among other nutrients, acerola cherry is particularly rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B5 as well as potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Acerola cherry has a pleasant, sweet but a bit sour taste. The powder, usually used as a supplement, is usually made from freeze-dried acerola fruit.
Extremely High In Vitamin C
Acerola cherry is considered to be the second-best natural source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) after camu camu. It is, therefore, considered quite effective to prevent scurvy.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that for optimum health, we need to consume enough of it every day.
The high vitamin C content of acerola is the main reason why it is considered a health food and why most people consume it to prevent or fight colds and flu.
Full Of Antioxidants
Acerola is particularly rich in vitamin C and A, which are both antioxidants. This means that this fruit can help fight free radicals and the damage they can cause to our cells. Free radical damage (oxidative stress) can cause premature aging and the development of chronic diseases.
Acerola also contains a high amount of carotenoids including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein. Carotenoids are natural pigments that give fruits and vegetables their yellow, orange and red colors, and act as antioxidants in the body. Because of its high nutritional profile and antioxidant properties, acerola cherry is considered a superfood.
Other Health Benefits of Acerola Powder
- Boosts the immune system
Because it contains high levels of vitamin C, acerola cherry can help boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. This, in turn, can help the body fight different kinds of infections and other illnesses.
- Good for the eyes
As we said, acerola is a great source of carotenoids. One of them is beta-carotene, which the body can turn into vitamin A (retinol).
Carotenoids can also help protect the eyes from the damages of blue-light, cataract, and other age-related eye problems.
- Helps lower blood sugar levels
Studies have shown that acerola cherry can benefit people with diabetes. This is because it can help slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream (partly because it contains fiber), which can lead to more balanced blood sugar levels. But since acerola cherry also contains sugar, if you suffer from diabetes you should still be careful and consume acerola in small quantities.
You can also read our guide on how to naturally lower blood sugar.
- Can help digestion
Since acerola cherry also contains fiber, it helps prevent digestive issues such as constipation.
- Supports heart health and reduces blood pressure
Acerola cherry is also rich in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps reduce blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium and increasing blood flow. This, in turn, can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Because acerola also contains many antioxidants, it helps to protect the heart from oxidative stress that can often lead to other problems including high cholesterol.
- Supports collagen production
Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen production. It helps the body produce more of it. Since collagen is essential to help repair cells, tissues and organs, having more of it means that we can heal faster.
Collagen is also the most abundant protein in the body and is necessary for healthy bones, joints, skin, hair and nails, as well as to prevent premature aging.
Find out more about why collagen is so important.
- Can help improve metabolism and physical endurance
This is good news for those who like to stay active and do a lot of sport or exercise. Acerola is also rich in B-vitamins, which are important for proper metabolism. This means that it can help improve the way the body turns food into energy. And when you have more energy, you are likely to stay active and be more efficient.
- Could help prevent cancer
Early studies suggest that acerola may help to reduce lung cancer cell growth. Although not enough research has been done on the subject, as acerola contains a variety of antioxidants, it can be a good idea to add it to your diet to help keep oxidative stress at bay, which often contributes to cancer development.
How To Use Acerola Cherry Powder?
As fresh acerola cherries aren’t easy to find (because they go bad and lose their nutrients very quickly), except if you are living in areas where acerola grows, the easiest way to include this nutritious berry in your diet is to buy it in powder form. All you have to do is add some to your smoothies, shakes, juices, yogurts, porridge or cereals. You can also find lots of interesting recipes on the internet.
If you want to get the most out of your acerola powder, just always make sure that you buy a good quality product that does not contain any unnecessary ingredients.
Possible side-effects of Acerola cherry:
Acerola cherries are usually safe to consume. However, some possible side-effects can include an upset stomach, diarrhea and sleeping problems.
Do not take acerola cherries or acerola cherry powder if you suffer from gout. This is because it contains a lot of vitamin C, which can cause an increase in uric acid levels and make the condition worse.
Also because of its high vitamin C content, if consumed in large quantities, acerola can increase the risk of kidney stones.
Avoid taking acerola if you are already taking vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C is good, but you don’t want to be consuming too much of it either.
If you suffer from a particular health condition, are taking medications, are pregnant or breast-feeding, it is best to talk to your doctor before you start taking acerola cherry powder as a supplement.
Acerola For Overall Health
Adding acerola cherry powder to your diet seems to be a good idea, especially if you know you do not consume enough vitamin C. And since this little fruit also contains many other essential nutrients, it is likely to help you stay in good health and prevent many illnesses.
Historically, acerola has been used to treat a number of different health problems, and now science is confirming that it can indeed provide some great health benefits. So if you do not have any serious health problems and aren’t taking any medications, you should definitely try acerola cherry powder and see for yourself!
Have you ever tried acerola cherries in any form? Tell us in the comments below!