Acerola (Malpighiaemarginata) - West Indian Cherry
Acerola, or in its more common name the West Indian cherry only has similarities in its name to the popular fruit. This citrus tree originated from the Yucatán peninsula but can grow in almost all sub-tropical areas. The majority of the acerola used in Europe is coming from South and Mid America, South Mexico or occasionally from India. The Malpighia emarginata is the arboreal version of West Indian Cherry but should not to be mistaken for the Malpighia grabla plant which is the agrarian specie of the acerola.
Traits of the acerola:
The acerola is arboreal, evergreen shrub or tree which height can vary from 2-3 meters up to 6 meters. Its fruit are light red, 1-3 cm in diameter and weight around 3-5 grams. The development period is every 3 years.
Vitamin and mineral content:
The fruits of the acerola are extremely rich in vitamin C (3-46 grams can be found in 1 kg of fruits). Besides vitamin C it also contains the vitamins A, B, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9. It is worth to mention its mineral capacity as besides vitamins there is plenty of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, sulphur, sodium and zinc in it as well. Its vitamin C content gets lost after full maturity so it’s harvested when the fruit is at an immature state. It rarely gets to most of the countries in its raw state but can be found in already processed forms like in juices and dietary supplements.
South America folk medicine uses it as astringent and for the support of the cardiovascular system. It is a surprisingly good anti-inflammatory and fever reducing agent, it combats infections and degenerative inflammatory processes (rheumatoid joint disease). It’s widely used as a blood glucose and cholesterol regulator.
Thanks to its high vitamin C content it helps in the preservation of epidermic and connective tissues and because of this it’s a valuable component of several skin care products. As most chronic illnesses are accompanied by inflammatory there isn't a chronic illness which acerola cannot be beneficial for.
Acerola support the absorption of the fungus-polysaccharide during mycotherapy.
Beneficial health effects:
Vitamin A helps to preserve our eye health, the growth of bones and helps to maintain the beauty of our skin. Acerola is a natural antioxidant and therefore assists in the inhibition of the ageing of our cells. Free radicals in our bodies are responsible for the ageing of the cells and the number of these increases due to illness and stress. Antioxidants - and so acerola - inhibit these processes.
Acerola is therefore rich in vitamin C which is also a natural antioxidant. We know about the numerous health benefits of vitamin C, its regular intake increases our body’s resistance capabilities and helps to prevent disease. It’s essential in the production of carnitine which is needed to overcome fatigue and muscle weakness as well as playing an important role in the maintenance of muscles, bones, skin and arteries. It’s also vital in the production and functioning of various enzymes.
Vitamin B plays an important role in the carbohydrate metabolism, the nervous system and at the functioning of muscles and the heart. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin contributes to the production of red blood cells, glycogen and steroids, aids the absorption of iron and contributes to the healthy functioning of the eyes, the skin, the nervous system and the mucous membranes. Vitamin B3 is essential for the oxygenation of the cells, the metamorphosis of lipid acids and in the process of detoxification. Vitamin B5 which is also known as pantothenic acid is essential in the synthesis of carbohydrates and lipids and plays a major role in the production of red blood cells, various hormones and vitamin D as well. The most important role of vitamin B6 is to generate amino acids as well as to break down of glycogen into glucose in the muscles. Vitamin B9, or in its most common name folic acid, primarily takes part in the production of red and white blood cell and platelets but also has a significant role in the maintenance of the mucus linings in the gastrointestinal tract and oral cavity.
One of the most well known properties of calcium lays in the strengthening of our bones but it also has numerous other beneficial health effects. Iron is one of the most important minerals in our bodies as it’s the main component of oxygen carrying haemoglobin. In the case of iron deficiency the body uses its iron reserves and in-case this empties anaemia will develop. It is vital for woman that an adequate amount of iron is consumed as iron stores in their bodies can easily become depleted during menstruation and during at childbirth. Magnesium contributes to the correct functioning of the muscles and adequate amounts of magnesium in the diet can prevent various cramps and numbness’s. It has beneficial effects on the nervous system but it also provides great help in overcoming fatigue, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Manganese is involved in the metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates and well as in the synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins. Phosphorus plays a role in almost of the body’s processes. It’s involved in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It contributes to the functioning of the nervous system, the protein synthesis which takes place in our bodies as well as in the conservation of the strength of the bones and teeth. The most common food which contains sodium is salt which in small amounts can be healthy but in can be harmful in large amounts. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the human body. It’s a component of numerous enzymes as well as insulin which is produced in the pancreas. It plays an important role in the metabolism of proteins, lipids and amino acids as well as later studies showing it to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Therefore, it’s clear that acerola contains a lot of ingredients which are essential for the correct functioning of our bodies. The West Indian cherry is therefore very important in the maintenance of our health.