Acerola: A Nutritious Fruit

The acerola, also known as the Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry or the wild crepe myrtle, is a tropical fruit-bearing small tree that is native to Southern Mexico, Southern America, Central America, and the West Indies.  It has glossy green leaves when mature, tiny hairs and small pink-white flowers.

Fresh, delicious acerola cherries

The cherry is often enjoyed as a sweet-sour fruit by itself.  It can be used to make nutritious acerola juice and a sweet frozen pulp.  Since the acerola is also rich in vitamin C, it is also used to make ascorbic acid concentrate for juice.  As dessert, acerola cherries can be stewed, and the remaining juice, sauce, or purée is simply drizzled as a topping over cakes, puddings, or ice cream.

More of desserts made from acerola cherries include punch and sherbet.  The acerola cherry sometimes is made into delicious jams, pies and syrups.  Its fresh juice prevents the darkening of fruits such as banana slices.  Because of its numerous health benefits, dietary supplements often use the cherry as an ingredient.

Acerola cherries are known to have an extraordinarily large amount of vitamin C.  Other health benefits come from riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin A and niacin.  Juice made from acerolas sometimes have many times more vitamin C than orange juice.  Vitamins C helps repair tissues, and prevents cancer and heart disease. Vitamin A is good for improving vision.  Acerola also has a high amount of potassium, which benefits our heart and maintains blood pressure, and folate is essential for the making of new cells and for heart health.

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