Superfoods: How Acerola Promotes Your Health
There are a number of superfruits that should not be missing from your diet as they promote good health. In addition to the well-known types of fruit and vegetables such as avocado, kale, beetroot and pomegranate, there are also lesser known ones that have recently become popular. This also includes acerola, a plant species from the Malpighian family that is native to South and Central America.
Vitamin C in Acerola Prolongs Life
Acerola is considered a real “superfood.” Since the fruit is very reminiscent of cherries, it is also known as acerola cherries or Barbado cherries. However, the fruit does not taste sweet, but very sour, which is why it is often consumed together with sugar. The plant has received a lot of attention in the recent past because of its valuable ingredients such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and other phytonutrients such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanins and carotenoids. And: It is considered the third best source of vitamin C worldwide. Vitamin C is not only essential for good health, it can also prolong life. Research has shown that as little as 800 mg of vitamin C per day can result in a six year longer lifespan.
Various Processing Options
Recent studies have examined the individual bioactive compounds and the biological activities of the fruit and its extracts. As one of the richest natural sources of ascorbic acid, several value-added products and vitamin C supplements derived from acerola are available in the global market. Multiple processing tools and techniques have also been explored to develop suitable value-added products from acerola. Fresh acerola cherries are only found in subtropical areas, but the plant can be consumed in other forms as well. Acerola cherries are made into dried fruit or juice, but can also be taken as powder in a dietary supplement.
Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer
Much research considers acerola to be a functional food because its pulp has great antioxidant activity and high phenolic content, hence it is consumed to prevent disease or as an adjuvant in treatment strategies. Acerola exhibits complex properties and interacts with biological organisms in a variety of ways. Since the plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties, it can protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancer, among other things.
Iron plays an essential role in metabolism as it is involved in the transport of oxygen and xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes. However, exposure to excessive amounts of iron can damage cells and organs because the metal is involved in reactions that produce reactive oxygen species (ROS). The consequences are serious diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Research has found that the juice of ripe or unripe acerola cherries has protective effects.
Drugs that lead to changes in the DNA are often used in cancer treatment. In this way, healthy cells can develop into tumor cells. Studies have shown that acerola juice prevents carcinogenesis and that the pulp of the plant protects against oxidative stress caused by ionizing radiation.
Acerola Against the Infamous Hangover
A combination of plant extracts from fruits, leaves, and roots may help relieve hangover symptoms, a study published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health shows. Various natural remedies have been recommended to help relieve hangover symptoms, but there is still no strong scientific evidence supporting their use. To counteract this, researchers evaluated the potential of certain plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidant compounds to alleviate a range of recognized physical and psychological symptoms associated with alcohol consumption. These included acerola cherry, prickly pear, ginkgo biloba, willow and ginger root, among others.
The subjects were divided into three groups and given a flavored, water-soluble dietary supplement after alcohol consumption. The first group received a dietary supplement containing plant extracts, vitamins and minerals, and additional antioxidant compounds – steviol glycosides and inulin. The second group received a dietary supplement minus the plant extracts, while the third group received only glucose (placebo). The result: Compared to the glucose-only supplement, those taking the full supplement of plant extracts, minerals/vitamins, and antioxidants reported less severe symptoms. Mean headache intensity was reduced by 34%, nausea by 42%, feelings of indifference by an average of 27% and restlessness by 41%.
Various research shows that acerola has great healing potential and helps to treat or prevent diseases effectively. When buying a product, it is important to pay attention to the quality and ingredients. High-quality powder, for example, contains no sugar, sweeteners or preservatives. Recommended dosages are between 1g acerola powder or 10g acerola cherries per day. It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking it.