The acerola cherry, also known as the “Barbados cherry,” “West Indian cherry,” and the “Puerto-Rican cherry” is a native red, fleshy fruit of Northeastern Brazil, the Caribbean, Mexico, and more recently- Texas and California.
It’s been described as both sweet and sour, with comparisons to other fruits such as raspberries and even apples- (the California Rare Fruit Growers have described the cherry as having “delicate flavor with apple notes.”)
Though native to the Western world, the fruit’s health and beauty benefits have traveled as far as Asia. Japan has labeled the fruit as a cure for the common cold and even markets acerola juice enriched with Vitamin C, which has become increasingly popular.
United States patent number 5747006, has claims that the acerola cherry, when combined with existing skin whitening agents, enhances whitening significantly. In Asia, women often find whiter skin more attractive due to its representation of nobility and aristocracy, so the acerola cherry is viewed as beneficial in a multitude of ways.
The acerola cherry has 20 times the vitamin C found in an orange by weight and has even been used as an additive to infant apple juice to equate the vitamin C recommended for infants, since orange juice is thought to bee too harsh for ingestion by such ages. Oranges’ vitamin C content usually ranges between 500 and 4000 ppm (parts per million, while the acerola cherry ranges between 16,000 and 172,000. It also has twice the magnesium and potassium found in oranges.
The acerola cherry is also rich in vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, as well as protein-rich and high in mineral salts such as iron, calcium, and phosphorous. It’s commonly used as an antioxidant, immune system booster, astringent for healing wounds and tissue, reducing inflammation, reduction of fever, and as both a diuretic and renal stimulant. It’s also used to deflect diabetes, rheumatism, and heart disease.
Another US patent: 6074647, states that the acerola cherry synergistically works alongside organic acides in enhancing skin cell renewal and exfoliation, without causing additional skin irritation. So, the cherry is also known for its ability to maintain youthful skin.
The acerola cherry is used for many other things as well- jams and jellies, decorative shrubs in the southeastern United States, and even as an additive to liqueur- Veev Acai Spirit, which is a concoction of acai, acerola cherry, and prickly pear, commonly served over ice with acerola juice, so it’s not only healthy, but also intoxicating!
The cherry is so prized in Puerto Rico that it’s been said customs officials pay particular attention to the attempted export of acerola cuttings, to prevent the prized plant from being taken from the country.
Overall, the acerola cherry has a plethora of health benefits, being used world-wide for it’s various healing abilities and seems to have increasing popularity in both hemispheres.