Acerola is a tropical fruit originally from Central America. Lately, it has been gaining the attention of consumers and health professionals alike. This fruit has a high concentration of vitamin C, carotenoids and phenolic compounds which make it a nutritional bomb. This fruit is not often eaten fresh because of its highly acidic taste. The most common presentation for this fruit is as an extract, in capsules or integrated into a juice.

The vitamin C content in acerola is a powerful dose of antioxidants, which has been linked to the prevention and management of certain diseases (cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer), as well as slowing down signs of aging. If you’d like to know more about this dazzling red fruit and all of its health benefits, read on.

Key Facts

  • To avoid the acidic taste of acerola, it is best to ingest it in the form of an extract, juice, chewable tablets or capsules.
  • Despite the fact that acerola supplements have a very high concentration of vitamin C, making it a great antioxidant, keep in mind this vitamin is also critical for the synthesis of collagen, metabolizing energy and proper immune function.
  • Acerola also contains other antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids. These compounds are known to help neutralize the oxidizing agents that cause cell degeneration. This is how the antioxidants in acerola can aid in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the development of cancerous cells.

Ranking: The best acerola supplements on the U.S. market

There are many diverse forms of acerola supplements available in North America, making easy to reap the rewards of all the healthy properties this fruit has to offer. Keep in mind that unlike the capsules or chewable acerola tablets, extracts and juices are very versatile and can be easily combined with other foods. Check out this ranking with the best acerola products available to you:

No. 1: Naturelo: Vitamin C with Organic Acerola Cherry

This premium supplement by Naturelo is made of 100% natural Vitamin C and Acerola Cherry in the form of 90 timed-release capsules. Unlike most other vitamin C supplements on the market that are made of cheap, synthetic, ascorbic acid, this product is made from real fruits and plant-based nutrients; the price is the first indicator of its high quality. Each capsule provides 500mg of vitamin C from Organic Acerola Cherries. This supplement is free of GMOs, soy, gluten, yeast, dairy, eggs, nuts, caffeine, coloring, preservatives, and artificial flavorings.

It is a supplement suitable for almost anyone. Naturelo has added citrus bioflavonoids from organic oranges and lemons to enhance the bioavailability of vitamin C. Naturelo keeps up with the latest news in scientific findings that have shown bioflavonoids play an important role in the absorption of vitamin C as much as 35%. This supplement helps increase collagen production and stimulates antibody production to increase the health of the immune system.

No. 2: Sari Foods Co. — Natural Vitamin C Powder from Organic Acerola Cherries

Sari Foods Co. always produces its products to prioritize long-term health with natural and non-synthetic ingredients. Unlike other vitamin C supplements that contain isolated or synthetic vitamin C that is highly acidic and causes nutrient imbalances, this 100% food-based Vitamin C powder is nature’s complete complex, providing you with all the benefits of this miracle vitamin without compromising the health of your body.

The 6 oz. supplement packet contains organically sourced vitamin C powder that abides by strict regulations and harvested at its nutritional peak. This supplement will help in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, helping maintain the skin’s elasticity and firmness. Because vitamin C is naturally sourced directly from acerola cherries, it has higher bioavailability that makes its powerful antioxidant activity more powerful and effective. This product provides up to a 58 day supply of vitamin C that you can easily add into water or other fruit drinks.

No. 3: Micro Ingredients — Organic Acerola Powder

USDA Certified Organic and non-GMO, this organic acerola powder is a micro-ingredient product sourced directly from Brazil. This supplemental powder is rich in organic natural vitamin C that helps support the immune system and is high in strong antioxidants that help protect the body against carcinogens. This product is non-GMO, no irradiation, no fillers, no additives, no artificial flavors, no gluten, and no pesticides. Each serving size has only 11 calories and 3 g of carbohydrates.

Each serving size (one scoop) contains 3.2 g of acerola powder. A scoop is included to help you measure out the exact amount every single time. You can mix this acerola powder into smoothies, desserts, juice, oatmeal, tea, yogurt and so much more! Take it daily either with or in between meals. This nutrient-dense food, transformed into powder, will provide you with multiple benefits to help your immune system, the health of your skin and organs. For quicker absorption in higher concentration, take it naturally in powder form.

No. 4: Super Good For You Foods — Organic Dried Acerola Powder

This product is a great way to increase your nutrient intake and incorporate one of the earth’s amazing “superfoods” into your diet. The easy to dissolve powder comes from organic freeze-dried acerola cherries and is great for mixing into water, smoothies, tea and fruit juices, among many other things. It has a slightly tart flavor that people love. This acerola cherry powder is high in antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A.

This powder can be used not only as a supplement but as a thickening agent in jams or jellies; creating a more nourishing and flavourful food. This powder comes in a 4 oz, resealable bag that ensures fresh powder until the end. You can add this to your meals and beverages once a day, or half a teaspoon twice a day. This product is non-GMO, USDA Certified Organic, Vegan, Kosher and Gluten-Free.

No. 5: Sonora Nutrition — Vitamin C with Rose Hips and Acerola 500 mg

The vitamin C and acerola capsules by Sonora are multifaceted supplements that provide various benefits to the body. Vitamin C is believed to boost the immune system as well as provide antioxidant protection against free radicals, aids in iron absorption, supports cardiovascular health, aids in collagen formation and promotes healthy vision. These capsules are potent and effective, providing 500 mg of vitamin C per capsule with rose hips and acerola cherry for maximum absorption and bioavailability.

This supplement contains no chemicals, preservatives, artificial color or flavoring, and is free of added sugars, wheat, dioxides, yeast, starch, gluten, soy or milk. It is manufactured in an FDA approved, GMP compliant facility to ensure the highest quality product. Because of its capsule form, this nutritional supplement is easy to include within your diet, enhancing your overall day to day nutrition in a matter of seconds. If you are not satisfied, Sonora offers customer support and full refunds.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about acerola supplements

In order to reap all of the benefits of acerola, you must first make sure to ingest it properly. In this next section, we give you all the information you need. What is the daily recommended dose of acerola? Is it better to have it in the form of juice, extract or chewable tablet? Is taking acerola better than taking a traditional vitamin C supplement? Read on to find the answers to all these questions and many more.

Fresh acerola fruit has a high water, fibre, sugar, vitamins and minerals content.
(Source: Somyot Pattana: 60466390/ 123rf.com)

What is acerola exactly?

Acerola (previously M. punicifolia) is native to the West Indies. It also is found in northern South America, Central America, Texas, and Florida. Today, the largest producer of acerola in the world is Brazil. This small shrub or tree has 5-petaled flowers ranging in color from green (not ripe) to orange-pink (mid ripeness) bright red (fully ripe).

Acerola fruit is a bright red cherry-like fruit containing several small seeds. Mature fruits are soft and pleasant tasting. They contain 80 percent juice and it’s important to note they are not often sold fresh in stores because the fruits deteriorate rapidly once removed from the tree.

What type of flavor does acerola have?

The fresh acerola fruit has a distinct bittersweet taste and can leave a tingle in your mouth. If the fruit is not fully ripe, it will be very acidic to it, this is because at this stage it contains little sugar and a high vitamin C content. As it ripens, its taste becomes more pleasant because the level of sugar increases, but the vitamin C concentration drops significantly. Which means the riper the fruit, the less acidic it becomes. Perfectly ripe acerola cherries tend to have a sweeter taste.

Dr. Ben KimNutrition Doctor

“Because many vitamin C products on the market contain synthetic forms of vitamin C like ascorbic acid, make sure to choose a product that contains the full vitamin C complex that naturally occurs in organic acerola cherries, one of nature’s best sources of truly natural vitamin C.”

How to eat acerola fruit?

Acerola fruit is most often eaten in Brazil since it can be brought straight from the tree to the market when it’s fully ripe. Because of its short shelf life, it is hard to export fresh fruit to other countries. It will begin to spoil as quickly as 2 to 4 days after harvesting — its flavor, smell, texture, and appearance deteriorate very quickly.

Nonetheless, you can always opt for acerola supplements in the form of juice, capsules, chewable tablets or as a powdered extract. Moreover, acerola fruit can also be used to make jams, ice cream, spirits, jellies, and compotes. Keep in mind however, these products won’t have the same health benefits.

What nutrients are found in acerola?

Acerola is rich in fiber, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. A 100g serve of the fresh, ripe fruit is 92% water, has 32 calories, 7.7 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber and 1700 milligrams of vitamin C. It also has B1 and B2 vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

When the fruit is at mid ripeness and it is still very sour, its concentration of vitamin C can be up to 4830 mg per 100 grams. This means that acerola, depending on how ripe it is, can have 10 to 100 times more vitamin C than an orange. Other valuable components found in this fruit include polyphenols and carotenoids.

Acerola, like other fruits, is naturally free of lactose and gluten.
(Source: Getsaraporn Thammason: 83481078/ 123rf.com)

What health benefits can acerola have?

In countries which grow acerola, the fresh fruit is commonly eaten as part of a balanced diet and as a fat burner when trying to lose weight. Acerola supplements (extracts, juice and capsules) have a range of reported health benefits, among its many advantages are these key benefits:

  • Antioxidant protection from the damage of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules which can contribute to cells oxidation, which can cause disease or premature ageing. Some conditions linked to oxidative stress include: atherosclerosis, chronic fatigue, cancer and certain eye, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Helps maintain adequate vitamin C levels in smokers and recent ex-smokers. This demographic needs higher levels of this nutrient than those who don’t smoke.
  • Aids in slowing down macular degeneration associated with aging. Thanks to acerola’s high levels of beta-carotene (provitamin A) and lutein, it works to manage this disease — which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.
  • Antihyperglycemic effect. This basically means that it helps prevent spikes in blood glucose levels. This is particularly important for diabetics.
  • Works to protect the skin against free radicals and the ultraviolet radiation associated with the emergence of wrinkles. Furthermore, fresh acerola and in supplements, helps stimulate the production of collagen — a protein responsible for keeping skin firm and smooth.
  • Helps regulate and improve mood. Since vitamin C plays a key role in norepinephrine production, acerola works to improve overall emotional wellbeing.
  • Acerola strengthens the immune system. It has antimicrobial action against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
  • Can have a role in the prevention of various types of cancer. The anthocyanin found in acerola has tumor fighting actions in breast and lung cancer.
  • Acerola supports increased absorption of iron. Iron is present in green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, egg yolk and other foods. Its a key nutrient in helping prevent anaemia, which is often caused by iron deficiency.

Why is the vitamin C in acerola so important?

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient at all stages of human development. Acerola and its supplements are an excellent source of this vitamin. This being because they easily meet the daily intake requirements for both adults and children. Some of the main functions of vitamin C in the body are:

  • It increases the absorption of non-heme iron. This is the type of iron found in non meat sources.
  • Supports healthy immune function. It is an essential nutrient involved in the proper functioning of the immune system.
  • Helps fight cold and flu symptoms. It also helps speed up recovery time.
  • Vitamin C facilitates energy metabolism. By allowing the body to access the energy found in food.
  • Stimulates collagen production. In the skin, tendons, joints and bones.
  • Acts as a powerful antioxidant. Which works to neutralize free radicals.
  • Assists in the synthesis of mood-related neurotransmitters. Working as a natural and powerful mood regulator.

Which antioxidants can be found in acerola?

Acerola is a real cocktail of antioxidants thanks to its high concentration of vitamin C, phenolic compounds (flavonoids, anthocyanins and phenolic acids) and their carotenoids (beta carotene and lutein). All these components not only contribute to slowing down the ageing process, they also play a part in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, ocular conditions and cancer.

Acerola supplements are a great way to consume antioxidants and to provide a boost to the immune system.
(Source: Supakorn Rovijit: 78551558/ 123rf.com)

What types of acerola supplements are there and how do I know which one is right for me?

Acerola supplements can be found in 3 main types of presentation: tablets (most of them chewable), juices and powdered extracts. All of these presentations have distinct qualities, however, they are all an excellent source of vitamin C. The main characteristics of these types of acerola supplements are:

  • Tablets: are usually made with gelatin and binding agents that create a capsule or tablet that holds the acerola extract inside. Moreover, chewable tablets can be flavored with natural ingredients like oranges or other citrus flavors.
  • Powdered extract: is made by cold drying (freezing) the acerola fruit, dehydrating it and forming a mass which is then crushed into powder. This presentation has a more concentrated natural acerola flavor. To ingest it, it can be mixed into liquids or other foods.
  • Juice: the juice is extracted by cold pressing the fruit, this is done in order to retain most of the vitamin C — which is thermosensitive and is destroyed or degraded when exposed to high temperatures. The juice will have the characteristic acerola flavor, which can be drunk on its own or mixed into a smoothie.
Features Tablets Powder Juice
Flavor These may have neutral or natural acerola taste.
They can also be flavored with other ingredients (eg. citrus).
Intense acerola flavor Pleasant, sweet and sour taste, typical of acerola.
Method of intake They can be taken on their own, or with water. However, most tablets are flavored and chewable. Commonly mixed with water, milk, yogurt, vegetable juice or smoothies. Can be drunk on its own, it doesn’t need to be mixed or diluted with water.
Amount of processing Moderate. The extract needs to be mixed with other ingredients in order to be made into a capsule or tablet. Low Low
Recommended dose/serving 1 or 2 tablets a day 3 to 5 grams daily 50 to 100 ml
Amount of vitamin C per serving 500 mg per tablet or capsule on average 438 to 730 mg 800 to 1600 mg

What is the recommended dose for acerola supplements?

For capsules and tablets, the recommended dose is 1 or 2 tablets per day. If you opt for the juice, you should have around 50 to 100 ml daily, and when using a powder supplement, usually one or half a teaspoon is enough. It’s always a good idea to read the products recommended dose and if still unsure, consulting a professional is the best option.

What is the difference between acerola supplements and traditional vitamin C supplements?

Acerola and standard vitamin C supplements have many of the same health benefits, as this nutrient is really the star component of the fruit. In fact, this fruit is often used as a primary ingredient in the product of natural vitamin C supplements.

The differences between acerola and pure vitamin C supplements lies in the anthocyanins and carotenoids found in the fruit. The combination of nutrients in acerola have additional benefits not found in vitamin C supplements, including antihyperglycemic and antimicrobial properties, as well as preventing macular degeneration.

Benefits Acerola supplements Vitamin C supplements
Antioxidant Yes Yes
Antihyperglycemic Yes No
Strengthens the immune system Yes Yes
Prevents macular degeneration associated with age Yes No
Stimulates collagen production Yes Yes
Antimicrobial Yes No

Can children have acerola?

Children over the age of 4 can have acerola supplements. Keep in mind however, that when it comes to tablets and capsules, they should have the concentration of acerola which is suitable for their age. It should go without saying that you should always consult with your pediatrician before giving your child any kind of supplement.

Celest Robb-NicholsonDoctor and Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch

“Perhaps the best-known and most widely promoted use of high-dose vitamin C is to prevent or treat the common cold.”

Who can benefit from taking acerola supplements?

Acerola supplements are often safe and there are products out there of great quality. However, before purchasing a supplement of this fruit, it is important to consider whether you really need it. Keep in mind that those who will gain the most benefits from acerola supplements are the following:

  • Smokers and those who recently quit smoking
  • Vegans and vegetarians who have suffered from an iron deficiency
  • People with a diet low in fruits and vegetables — fresh fruits and veggies are the main sources of vitamin C
  • People suffering from a cold or the flu
  • Diabetics (who don’t use insulin)
  • People with a predisposition for age-associated macular degeneration

What are the adverse effects of acerola?

As you know by now, during childhood, pregnancy and while breastfeeding, any nutritional supplements should only be taken under the strict supervision of a medical professional. Moreover, in the case of acerola, there are times when it is not advisable to supplement this fruit, these cases are listed below:

  • Patients with chronic liver or kidney conditions. This does not necessarily mean they cannot take acerola supplements, but people suffering from these conditions should consult with their doctor before taking any dietary supplements.
  • Latex allergies. There can be a negative reaction between the latex allergen and the acerola molecule.
  • Hemochromatosis. This is an illness characterized by the excessive accumulation of iron in the tissues and organs. As vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, acerola supplements can aggravate this condition.
  • People who take phenothiazines. Because vitamin C can limit or block their effects.

Aside from these special cases, acerola supplements are generally safe. This is because vitamin C is hydrosoluble, meaning that any accumulated excess will be discarded through the urine — this makes it very hard for someone to overdose on acerola. Nonetheless, excess vitamin C may cause diarrhea, stomach pain, and kidney stones.

Shopping Criteria

Although acerola products are generally safe, you should consider other important aspects when choosing the right supplement for you. If you have any of the conditions in which acerola can help to improve your health or prevent illness, you should consider the following aspects to make sure you get the best product:

  • Format
  • Flavor
  • Ease of consumption
  • Allergies
  • Production and processing conditions

Format

The easiest way to take acerola supplements is in tablets. Some of these may have to be swallowed with a sip of water, but the majority of options are chewable, designed to be eaten like candy. Moreover, the juice is also simple to ingest, just make sure to store in the fridge after you’ve opened it.

Last but not least, the powdered extract is perfect for people looking for a supplement which is 100% natural. This is because it is produced by freeze-drying the acerola fruit and then crushing it into a fine powder. Nonetheless, the drawback of this option is that you need to mix it with some kind of liquid or food in order to take it.

Acerola spoils very quickly after it’s been harvested, making it difficult for retailers to carry fresh acerola fruit
(Source: Getsaraporn Thammason: 78797318/ 123rf.com)

Flavor

The juice, along with the chewable tablets, has a subtle, pleasant taste. The powder, on the other hand, has an intense, acre flavor (it leaves a rough feeling in the mouth), although it becomes much more pleasant to take when added to shakes or smoothies with other citrus, berries, pineapple or banana.

Ease of consumption

This mainly pertains to children that can or need to have acerola supplements. It’s vital to choose products which have an agreeable taste, have a suitable vitamin C concentration for their age (60 – 120 milligrams per tablet). You should also look for organic products because kids are more susceptible to toxins and additives.

Allergies

Even though acerola is naturally lactose and gluten-free, anyone with restrictions, allergies or intolerances should carefully check the list of ingredients. Keep in mind that people who have an allergy to latex should not ingest any acerola.

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People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C appear to have a reduced risk for various types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, colon, and lung.

Production and processing conditions

It is always advisable to opt for supplements which have been made through sustainable farming practices, not only because of health reasons but also to care for the environment. Another point to consider regarding this criteria is the packaging, it’s always preferable to choose products made with recyclable packaging.

In the same way, it’s better to buy supplements without artificial colors, flavors or aromas. Keep in mind that because acerola is a fruit which quickly goes bad, excessive additives could be used to hide changes to the original raw material.

Summary

Acerola is a fruit which is rich in vitamin C, phenolic compounds and carotenoid pigments. These key nutrients result in one of the best natural sources of antioxidants. This nutrient content gives this fruit the ability to prevent illness and slow down the aging process. It can be taken in the form of tablets, capsules, juice or powder.

Because vitamin C and acerola pigments (anthocyanins, beta carotene, and lutein) play key roles in the proper functioning of the body, these supplements are beneficial for both children and adults alike. Last but not least, even though these supplements are often safe, it’s always important not to exceed the recommended daily dose.

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(Source of featured image: Somyot Pattana: 29697752/ 123rf.com)

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