Acerola food supplements: what benefits?
Native to the tropical regions of South America and the Caribbean, acerola is a very important source of vitamins, minerals and also antioxidants. Its use is known to combat dysentery (an infectious disease causing severe diarrhea), anemia (low red blood cells) and scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). Being rich in vitamin C (it contains 10 to 40 times more than orange), it is advisable not to consume more than 1 g / day of acerola. Consult your doctor so that he can suggest a dosage adapted to your needs. If you have gout or have a history of kidney stones, consuming acerola is not recommended.
- Anti-inflammatory activity. A study in vitro has shown that acerola decreases inflammation on cultured macrophages (immune system cells)
- Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity. Anti-bacterial activity has been reported by Japanese researchers on the strain Staphylococcus epidermidis. On the other hand, a Guatemalan team analyzed the activity of several South American plants on pathogenic fungi. Acerola appears to be one of the most effective in combating these fungi.
- Anti-cancer activity. Motohashi’s 2004 study also showed that acerola extracts are toxic to tumor cell lines, suggesting that the fruit may have anti-cancer properties. Another study indicates that an acerola extract (700 mg / kg) blocks the growth of cancer cells in a mouse model.
- Obesity and Hypercholesterolemia. A study carried out on endothelial cells has shown that acerola, combined with alfalfa and soy extracts, blocks the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL for short), considered to be bad cholesterol. This protective effect is partly due to its high vitamin C content. Another study indicates that the acerola can fight against the harmful effects of obesity on the organism: mice were subjected to a diet rich in fat and sugar then exposed or not with acerola for 13 weeks. The results indicate that the plant protects blood cells and those of certain organs (kidneys, liver) from the toxic effects of this diet. This protective effect is probably due to the antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols) present in acerola.
There is insufficient scientific data to determine the dosage in children and adolescents, as well as in adults (18 years and older). No toxic effect has been reported to date but it is advisable not to consume large amounts of acerola (above 1 g / day of pulp) because of its high content of vitamin C. A study dating from 2011 did not report any side effects in participants who consumed 100 ml of diluted acerola juice containing 50 mg of vitamin C daily.
History and traditional uses
The acerola grows in the dry forests of South America and can reach 5 meters. It produces red fruits that are similar to European cherry. Acerola juice obtained from fruit is very popular in South America. The fruits are also eaten in case of fever and dysentery (infectious disease of the colon). The very high vitamin C content in acerola makes it an exceptional food to stimulate the immune system and to prevent or treat scurvy. It is also consumed as a food supplement in case of anemia or conversely in people suffering from diabetes or high cholesterol.
- Fights bacterial infections
- Boosts the immune system
- Fights high cholesterol
- Fights certain cancers
- Fights dysentery, anemia and scurvy
Acerola is a very important source of natural vitamin C, with a content of 10 to 40 times greater than orange. The average amount of vitamin C is 1.8 g per 100 g of acerola pulp, with levels varying between 1 and 2.3 g per 100 g of pulp. Vitamin C levels depend on the maturity of the fruit (an overripe fruit contains less vitamin C), the harvest season and the climate. Acerola also contains twice as much magnesium, vitamin B5 and potassium as orange. It also contains vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B3 (niacin) in concentrations comparable to those of other fruits. Iron, phosphorus and proteins are also found there, as well as beta-carotene and polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants.
Acerola should be avoided in patients:
- suffering from gout as it can increase uric acid levels
- with previous kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) because acerola can increase the formation of these stones.
Acerola is contraindicated in those who are allergic to acerola or its ingredients (De Assis, 2002).
There are no good quality clinical studies reporting any side effects of acerola. However, the scientific community believes that the latter is not dangerous at the recommended doses. Large amounts of acerola (above 1 g / day) can nevertheless cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea and dyspepsia (abdominal pain), due to its high content of vitamin C.
With plants or supplements
Acerola can increase:
- the antioxidant effect of alfalfa and soybeans;
- absorption of iron from the gastrointestinal tract;
- the amount of vitamin C in the blood in those consuming vitamin C supplements.
Acerola, due to its high vitamin C content, can interact with the following drugs:
- Anti-platelet or anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin®);
- Estrogens, which it can increase absorption;
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin®), which it may reduce the effectiveness of.