Health Benefits of Acerola Fruit Powder (Superfood Series)
Acerola is an edible tropical fruit native to Latin America. Also known as acerola cherry or by its scientific name Malpighia emarginata, this sour red berry has been proven to contain extremely high amounts of vitamin C, a fact that has earned acerola the accolade of one of the world's greatest superfoods. In countries like the US and UK, acerola fruit is usually sold in health food stores in supplemental form, typically as concentrated acerola powder made from freeze-dried acerola fruit. Those who swear by the health benefits of acerola powder use this increasingly popular natural supplement to improve the nutritional profile of cold soups, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, and even home-made energy bars.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at some of the most compelling health benefits of acerola:
Acerola Contains About 25 Times as Much Vitamin C as Oranges
There are a number of health claims made about acerola powder that are lacking scientific backing, but one thing we know for sure: this tropical superfood is one of the world's best natural sources of vitamin C, with a 100-gram serving of fresh acerola providing about 1,365 milligrams of vitamin C. To put this into perspective, oranges – which many people consider an excellent source of vitamin C – contain around 50 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams (or 3.5 oz).
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a vital nutrient that has many functions in your body, including keeping your immune system, bones, teeth and skin strong and healthy. Vitamin C has also been shown to possess anti-histamine properties may therefore help prevent or alleviate certain types of allergic reactions.
Acerola – An Antioxidant Powerhouse
The vitamin C in acerola fruit also acts as a natural antioxidant. In case you missed the memo, antioxidants are beneficial substances that neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that promote pre-mature aging and the development of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Although some free radicals are simply by-products of normal metabolic processes, many of them are generated by things like air pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, drugs, and pesticides.
Considering the exceptionally high levels of vitamin C found in acerola fruit, it is not surprising that this exotic superfood has been shown to beat many other fruits and berries in terms of antioxidant capacity (which in turn has led to the development of all sorts of anti-aging products featuring acerola extracts). In a Brazilian study evaluating the antioxidant capacities of 18 tropical fruits growing in Brazil, acerola was singled out (along with camu-camu and the Amazonian Mouriri pusa fruit) as showing consistently strong antioxidant activity in ABTS, DPPH and FRAP tests (common methods used to evaluate the antioxidant potential of foods in laboratory settings).
Boosting Eye Health with Acerola Fruit Powder
Acerola, whether eaten raw or consumed in the form of acerola powder, can provide your body with a good dose of carotenoids such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein. According to a study published in the journal European Food Research and Technology, the carotenoid content of acerola fruit is comparable to the carotenoid levels reported for foods like tomatoes, papaya or guava fruit.
Consumption of foods rich in carotenoids can have various beneficial effects, but their best-known health benefits relate to their ability to protect eye health. A large and compelling body of scientific research suggests that carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lutein, can help delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration, prevent the development of cataracts, improve night vision, and reduce the risk of retinitis pigmentosa.
Acerola Powder and Cancer Prevention
Even though acerola contains a number of anti-cancer compounds such as vitamin C, carotenoids and anthocyanins, little research has been carried out to investigate the therapeutic potential of acerola in cancer prevention or treatment. That said, one small study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology did report that acerola extract appeared to inhibit lung cancer cell growth in mice.
Where to Buy Acerola Powder
In countries like the US and UK, you will have trouble finding fresh acerola fruits. However, powdered dried acerola is increasingly available, especially in health food stores. You can also find a whole range of acerola supplements on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk .
1. M. Socorro (2010). Bioactive compounds and antioxidant capacities of 18 non-traditional tropical fruits from Brazil. Food Chemistry, 121(4), 996-1002.
2. T. Mezadri et el (2005). Carotenoid pigments in acerola fruits (Malpighia emarginata DC.) and derived products. European Food Research and Technology, 220(1), 63-69.
3. I. Nagamine et al (2002). Effect of acerola cherry extract on cell proliferation and activation of ras signal pathway at the promotion stage of lung tumorigenesis in mice. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Tokyo), 48(1), 69-72.
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