Acerola cherry

Acerola cherry: An Introduction

What is acerola cherry?

Acerola cherry is sometime referred to as Barbados Cherry to West Indian Cherry.


Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae. Common names include acerola cherry, Guarani cherry, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry, and wild crepe myrtle.

How to pronouce acerola?

Ace or ola


What does acerola taste like?


Acerola - where do they grow?

Acerola grows from in South Texas, through Mexico and Central America to northern South America and throughout the Caribbean and has of late been introduced in the sub-tropical areas throughout the world including India. Brazil is now the largest producer of acerola, with 11,000 hectares of acerola plantation, producing a total of 32,990 tons/year!


Types of acerola cherry

Acerola cherry is available as:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Powder
  • Extract
  • Oil

Acerola cherry nutrition:


Acerola cherry - the richest, natural source of vitamin C on the planet!

Nutrition science is quite young…but I love history and I love nutrition and I certainty love nutritional history or very old nutrition research! That’s why I was very interested to read these old research papers:


The oldest research paper I could find was published in 1946 in the very prestigious scientific journal, Science and titled ‘The high ascorbic acid content of the West Indian cherry’.

*Please note the ascorbic acid is the scientific name for vitamin C and West Indian cherry is the old name for Acerola cherry!


The next publication was almost a decade later in 1954 in the very prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This paper was titled: ‘Nutrient content of acerola, a rich source of vitamin C


Another paper, this time published in French in 1955 was regarding Acerola Cherry and  ‘its exceptional richness in vitamin C’. This 1955 publication was in the academic journal ‘Institut Pasteur de la Guyane et du territoire de l'Inini’ or ‘Pasteur Institute of French Guiana and the territory of Inini’, which is no longer being published.


A year later in 1956, another paper was published this time in English and in the Journal of Pediatrics entitled: ‘Acerola, the richest known source of vitamin C’.


A 1997 Portuguese publication in from Brazilian researchers and published in the journal: Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición (Latin American Archives of Nutrition). reported that 'the average content of vitamin C (in acerolal cherry) was higher than the one for other fruits, like pineapple, araçá, cashew, guava, kiwi, orange, lemon, and strawberry'.


A 2003 publication in the academic journal World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that:


'a small glass (180ml)  of Acerola juice can contain as much vitamin C as 14 liters of orange juice!


A 2018 publication in Journal of Food Science analysed 6 separate fruit juices from fruits including acerola cherry but also others such as gojiberry and cranberry. Among fruit juices, acerola contained the highest amounts of vitamin C which is no surprise considering the above. 


Another 2018 publication, this time in the 'Journal of Food Science and Technology' titled: 'Acerola, an untapped functional superfruit: a review on latest frontiers' led with the sentence: 'Acerola is one of the richest natural sources of ascorbic acid'...'The fruit contains an exorbitant amount of ascorbic acid, around 50–100 times than that of orange or lemon'


So how much vitamin C is in acerola?

A lot!!! 


For more information on vitamin C, check out our dedicated, scientific blog on vitamin C here


Other nutrients in Acerola cherry

The 2018 review in the Journal of Food Science that we discussed above reported that in addition to vitamin C, 'acerola also contained the highest amounts of total polyphenols and had the highest antioxidant capacity'


Similarly, the 2018 review in the 'Journal of Food Science and Technology' that we discussed above reported that 'acerola contains a plethora of phytonutrients like carotenoids phenolics, anthocyanins, and flavonoids'. In fact, this review wrote: 'the phenolic content in acerola pulp and juices is higher than the fruits like caqui, pineapple, mango, guayaba, etc.' 

Acerola appears to be a promising candidate in combating various diseases associated with the oxidative stress.


This reviews even goes on to say:

Acerola, considered a ‘‘super fruit’’, has received much attention in the recent past as it contains an exorbitant content of ascorbic acid along with other phytonutrients like phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids.


So in addition to vitamin C, acerola is a source of:


Minerals and trace elements

  • calcium
  • copper
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • selenium
  • zinc



  • vitamin A (as carotenoids)
  • B-vitamins, including
  • vitamin B1(thiamine)
  • vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • vitamin B5
  • vitamin B6 (pantothenic acid)
  • vitamin B9 (folate)
  • vitamin E



  • Polyphenols
  • Anthocyanins
  • Carotenoids
  • Flavonoids

    One article in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis reported that polyphenols are the 'main contributors to the antioxidant activity'. Reports such as this emphasise the importance of whole acerola over standard, synthetic vitamin C alone.


    Unique nutritional compounds in Acerola

    Several novel compounds have been reported from acerola fruit, including:

    • Leucocyanidin-3-O-b- D-glucoside, a novel flavonoid  and renamed 'aceronidin’
    • Norfriedelin A
    • Norfriedelin B
    • Tetranorditerpenes acerolanins

      Importantly, these nutrients are found in acerola and not anywhere else! Further, these nutrients appear to have antioxidant effects, help with blood sugar control and cytotoxic effects (i.e. can kill off damaged or harmful cells).


      Acerola: Human studies 

      If you're familiar with Phytaphix blogs, you'll know that we always want to look for human studies!


      Unfortunately, there is a lack of published research which has studied acerola cherry ingestion in humans.


      A 1995 thesis presented to the Faculty of the Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania titled 'Comparative study of the bio-availability of ascorbic acid in commercially produced products' compared acerola vitamin C to standard, synthetic vitamin C supplements. The researchers reported that 

      'The vitamin C in an acerola powder was found to be 1.63 times more bioavailable to humans than standard vitamin C supplement in a double-blind, randomized experiment'


      In addition, there is a nice study from 2011 published in the academic journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. In this study, humans ingested the same amount of vitamin C (50mg) from Acerola cherry or a standard vitamin C supplement (ascorbic acid).


      95% more vitamin C ended up in the urine in the standard vitamin C supplement, in other words, the body got rid of it! And vitamin C in the urine can have no benefit for humans and may even harm us, especially the kidneys (which make the urine) and increase the risk of kidney stones. However, in the people who consumed acerola cherry, 95% less vitamin C vitamin C ended up in the urine and therefore stayed inside the body and was biologically active. The researchers wrote:

      'component(s) of acerola juice affects the absorption of vitamin C and minimizes its excretion via urine'


      Check out the graph from the original study: 


      In other words, vitamin C from acerola cherry is better absorbed and much more bioactive than standard, synthetic vitamin C supplements!


      Is acerola better than vitamin C?



      What are the benefits of acerola?

      • Acerola contains additional vitamins, trace elements and phytonutrients
      • Acerola vitamin C is better absorbed and much more bioactive than standard vitamin C


      Other questions:


      How much acerola to take?


      Is acerola low FODMAP? Is acerola suitable on the FODMPA diet?



      Can you take acerola with warfarin (courmarin)?


      Is acerola high in histamine?


      Are there side effects to acerola consumption?


      Is acerola safe in pregnancy?

      Yes - however speak to your local healthcare provider(s)


      Is acerola safe with breastfeeding (lactation)?

      Yes - however speak to your local healthcare provider(s)


      Is acerola safe for babies?

      Yes - however speak to your local healthcare provider(s)


      In fact acerola represents one of the most natural sources of vitamin C!



      Acerola cherry is much more expensive than standard, synthetic vitamin C. Also, acerola is much more more difficult to work with than standard vitamin C. 


      However, we at Phytaphix are committed to producing the best nutrition products based on the best scientific research. This is why we use vitamin C from acerola cherry and other berries in our multi-award winning immune and energy support product, immune Phix!


      So why choose acerola? 

      Hopefully we've answered this questions above! But if you have any further questions or comments about acerola or anything else, let us know!

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