Acerola is a perennial shrub or small tree that grows to a height of 10 to 12 feet with a rounded canopy. Leaves are elliptic, oblong, obovate or narrowly oblanceolate, acute or cuneate at the base, obtuse or rounded at the apex, 2 to 7 centimeters long and 1 to 4 centimeters wide, with white, silky irritating hairs when young, hairless, glossy, and dark green when mature. Flowers are small and pink or lavender, in sessile or short-peduncled cymes, with spoon-shaped and fringed petals . Fruit is bright red, oblate to round, more or less 3-lobed, 1.25 to 2.5 centimeters wide, with a glossy skin and orange-colored, juicy, tart-tasting pulp. Seeds are three, rounded, each with 2 large- and 1 small-fluted wings. (2)
- Grown as ornamental or hedge plant.
- Native to South America and Central America.
- Cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, including the Canary Islands, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, India, Hawaii and Australia. (21)
- Nutrient analysis of raw edible portion (per 100g) yielded: (Proximates) water 91.41 g, energy 32 kcal, protein 0.40 g, total lipid 0.30 g, carbohydrate by difference 7.69 g, total dietary fiber 1.1 g; (Minerals) calcium 12 mg, iron 0.30 mg, magnesium 18 mg, phosphorus 11 mg, potassium 146 mg, sodium 7 mg, zinc 0.10 mg; (Vitamins) vitamin C 1677.6 mg, thiamin 0.020 mg, riboflavin 0.060 mg, niacin 0.400 mg, vitamin B6 0.009 mg, folate DFE 14 µg, vitamin A/RAE 38 µg, vitamin 767 IU; (Lipids) total saturated FA 0.068 g, total monosaturated FA 0.082 g, total polyunsaturated FA 0.090 g, cholesterol 0. (3)
- FPLC-DAD/ESI-MS analysis of fruit yielded two anthocyanins (cyanidine 3-O-rhamnoside and pelargonidin 3-O- rhamnoside), three hydroxycinnamoyl derivatives (caffeoyl hexoside, dihydrocaffeoylquinic acid and coumaroyl hexoside) and 15 flavonols (mostly glycosylated forms of quercetin and kaempferol). (see study below) (18)
- Analysis of acerola fruit juice yielded vitamin C (1799.5 mg/100 g FW), total phenolic (188.4 mg GAE/100 g FW), anthocyanins (9.2 mg/100 g FW), flavonols (7.8 mg/100 g FW) contents. (see study below) (20)
- Study of ripe fruit yielded four major caroternoids: ß-carotene, ß-cryptoxanthin,
lutein and violaxanthin along with minor carotenoids, neoxanthin, antheraxanthin, neochrome, luteoxanthin, auroxanthin ß-cryptoxanthin-5,6-epoxide, ß-cryptoxanthin-5,8-epoxide, cis-ß-carotene, and cis-lutein. Average composition was estimated at: ß-carotene 536.55 µg/100 g fw, ß-cryptoxanthin 417.46 µg/100 g fw, lutein 90.21 µg/100 g fw, violaxanthin 395.33 µg/100g fw, and total minor carotenoids at 197.33 µg/100 g fw. Vitamin A values were similar to those reported for tomatoes and some fruits likes guava and papaya. (see study below) (24)
- Studies have shown antitumor, radioprotective, skin whitening, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, antihyperlipidemic, insecticidal properties.
- Fruits are edible.
- Fruit made into juices, pulps, vitamin C concentrate, and baby food. (21)
- No reported medicinal use in the Philippines.
Fruits are used for liver ailments, diarrhea, dysentery, coughs and colds.
- Juice used as gargle for sore throat.
• Tumor Specific Cytotoxic Activity: Study of fractionated barbados cherry extracts showed concentration of higher cytotoxic activity in fractions A4 and A6 (acetone extract), and H3 and HE3 (hexane) extract. The four fractions showed higher cytotoxic activity against tumor cell lines such as human oral squamous cell carcinoma (HSC-2) and human submandibular gland carcinoma (HSG). The tumor specific cytotoxic activity and MDR reversal activity of barbados cherry may suggest potential application for cancer therapy. (4)
• Radioprotective / Fruit Juice: Study evaluated the radioprotective and cytotoxic activity of acute and chronic treatments with Barbados Cherry fruit juice against the mutagenic activity of therapeutic dose of 25 µCi of radioiodine for hyperthyroidism using bone marrow cells of Wistar rats treated in vivo by gavage. Results showed radioprotective activity attributed to the joint action of its antioxidant components. The BC exhibited no cytotoxic activity. (5)
• Suppression of UVB-Induced Skin Pigmentation / Juice: Study investigated the effects of acerola juice intake on the skin of UVB-irradiated SMP30/GNL KO mice. Results showed suppression of UVB-induced pigmentation by inhibiting melanogenesis-related genes. There was a significant decrease in the expression level of dopachrome tautomerase, an enzyme involved in melanin biosynthesis. (6)
• Protection Against Oxidative Damage from Cafeteria Diet /Juice: Study investigated the antioxidant effects of acerola juice in different stages of maturity (unripe, ripe, and industrial) and its main pharmacologically active components, vitamin C and rutin, given as food supplements to cafeteria diet-fed mice. Food supplementation with acerola juice helped reduce oxidative stress present under obesogenic conditions. (7)
• Drug Interactions: Moderate interactions: flluphenazine (may decrease how well Prolixin wells) and warfarin (may decrease the effect of coumadin). Minor interactions: Its high vitamin C content may increase the absorption of estrogen and increase its side effects. (8)
• Microbial Control / Inhibition of Quorum Sensing / Phenolic Compounds / Fruit: Study evaluated the total phenolic content and antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-quorum sensing activities of phenolic extract from the pulp. The total phenolic content of the fruit was 5848.74 ± 4.18 mg GAE/L. The phenolic extract inhibited all tested bacteria, with MIC ranging from 487.39 mg GAE/L to 1462.18 mg GAE/L. In sub-MIC concentrations, the phenolic extract did not interfere with bacterial growth but inhibited quorum sensing controlled phenotypes and biofilm formation in the bacteria. The ability to inhibit quorum sensing in bacteria can be further explored as a means to control bacterial activities in foods. (9)
• Antidiabetic / Hypolipidemic / Juice: Study evaluated the effects of M. emarginata juice on the glycemic and lipid profile of offspring of diabetic and nondiabetic Wistar rats. Offsprings of diabetic dams treated with acerola juice showed significantly decreased levels of glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and increased HDL-c. The use of acerola juice shows potential in the prevention of DM and dyslipidemia and its complications. (10)
• Volatile Flavor Components: Study for volatile components from acerola fruit identified 150 constituents from the aroma concentrate. Major constituents were furfural, hexadecanoic acid, 3-methyl-3-butenol, and limonene. Amount of esters, 3-methyl-3-butenol, and their various esters contribute to the unique flavor. (11)
• Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated in-vivo and in-vitro analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of various extracts of M. emarginata leaves and fruits in experimental animal models. Results showed methanol extracts of leaves and fruits showed more potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity than petroleum ether and ethyl acetate extracts. (12)
• Antihyperglycemic / Polyphenols / Fruit: Study evaluated the antihyperglycemic effect of C-AP (crude acerola polyphenol) fraction. Results showed C-AP significantly suppressed plasma glucose after glucose and maltose administration to ICR mice, suggested a postprandial effect. Mechanism was attributed to both suppression of the intestinal glucose transport and inhibition of alpha-glucosidase. (13)
• Skin-Lightening Effect on UV-Induced Hyperpigmentation / Polyphenol / Fruit: Study investigated the effects of polyphenols from acerola on melanogenesis. A crude polyphenol extract (CPE) examined the skin-lightening effect on brownish guinea pigs subjected to controlled UVB irradiation. Results showed the CPE significantly lightened the UVB-irradiated skin pigmentation and reduced the content of melanin in B16 melanoma cells, suggesting the in-vivo skin lightening effect was due to suppression of melanin biosynthesis, which may be partly due to inhibition of tyrosinase activity in melanocytes. (14)
• Protective Effect in Inflammatory and Lipolysis Pathways / Fruit: Study evaluated the effects of unripe, ripe, and industrial acerola juice on relevant inflammatory and lipolysis proteins in adipose tissue of mice with cafeteria-induced obesity. Results showed acerola juice reduces low-grade inflammation and ameliorates obesity-associated defects in the lipolytic processes. (15)
• Insecticidal / Phenolic Compounds: Study evaluated the effect of
acerola bagasse flour against fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda. The ABF extract contained several phenolic compounds including gallic acid, epigallocathechia gallate, catechin, p-coumaric acid, salicylic acid, and quercetin. The extract was toxic to S. frugiperda, prolonging the pre-pural stage and increasing mortality of caterpillars. (16)
• Silver Nanoparticles: Study reports on the green synthesis of silver nanoparticles mediated by acerola (M. emarginata) extract. (17)
• Antioxidative Damage in a Human Dermal Fibroblast Model / Fruit: Study evaluated acerola fruits for its protective effect against oxidative damage in an in-vitro human dermal fibroblast mode. Chemical analysis showed a high content of vitamin C, total polyphenols, ß-carotene and folates in acerola fruit. The acerola crude extract was able to protect against oxidative damage through decreasing apoptosis, intracellular ROS levels and lipid and protein damage, besides improving antioxidant enzyme activities and mitochondrial functions. (18)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Inhibition of COX-2 Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of acerola leaf. Fractionation of leaf extract yielded F1, F2, and F3. The fractions showed inhibition of COX-2 activity, with F2 exhibited the highest COX-2 inhibitory effect. Subfractions F2A, F2B, and F2C inhibited COX-2 activity. (19)
/ Ethanol-Induced Oxidative Stress / Juice: Study evaluated the antioxidant potential of acerola juice and its hepatoprotective potential against acute-ethanol induced stress in mice. There was high activity of superoxide dismutase (1053.6 UA/g DM) with total antioxidant activity of 137.5 mmol Trolox/g FW. Results showed the acerola juice prevented hepatic damage induced by ethanol, probably via enhancement of the antioxidant status. (see constituents above) (20)
• Antioxidant Properties
/ Squash: Study evaluated the anitoxidant activity of an Indian variety of acerola and its squash using DPPH radical activity, reducing power, SOA activity, total phenolic content and total flavonoid content. Average scavenging DPPH radical activity, reducing power, and super oxide anion radical activity of the fruit ranges from 89.12 ± 0.42% inhibition, 3.047 ± 0.001 absorption, 71.110 ± 1.68%. Total phenolic and total flavonoid content of the fruit is high, 809.143 ± 37.792 µg of PE (pyrocatechln equivalent) and 47.947 ± 0.358 µg RE (rutin equivalent), respectively. Results suggest acerola squash serves as a functional fruit beverage. (22)
• Ascorbic Acid / Fruit: Study reports on a non-destructive, reliable, and fast method of measuring ascorbic acid content in intact acerola using NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy). The ascorbic acid content of fruit varied between 1190.65 to 2187.06 mg/100 g FW. Variation was attributed to differences in maturation stage. The ascorbic acid is greatly reduced (about 50%) from green to ripe stage of the fruit due to biochemical oxidation reactions related to maturation. (23)
• Carotenoid Pigments / Fruits: Study of ripe fruit yielded four major carotenoids: ß-carotene, ß-cryptoxanthin,
lutein and violaxanthin along with minor carotenoids. After juice-making, including a pasteurization stage as thermal processing, there was an observed decrease in carotenoid content. These modifications in nutritional value of fruits and their antioxidant capability and properties could be used as measures of the processing quality. (see constituents above) (24)
• Muscle Relaxant and Depressant Activities: Study evaluated petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, and methanolic extracts of Malphigia emarginata and Holoptelia integrifolia for muscle relaxant and locomotor activities using Rotarod and Actophotometer, respectively. Results showed both plants have potent relaxant and depressant activities. On toxicity study in rats, both plants were nontoxic up to 2000 mg/kg. (25)
• Antimutagenic Relaxant and Depressant Activities: Study evaluated the antimutagenic potential of fresh and frozen juices of Barbados cherry pulp, with and without concomitant administration of cyclophosphamide, using a chromosomal aberration test system in the bone marrow cells of Wistar rats. Results showed BC has potential as an antimutagenic, and statistically reduced the percentages of chromosomal alterations induced by cyclophosphamide. Results was attributed to antioxidant activity of the bruit and action of the bioactive compounds, which may have inhibited cyclophosphamide metabolism or scavenged free radicals generated by the compound. (26)
• Anti-Inflammatory Against LPS-Induced Inflammation and COX-2 Activity / Leaf and Fruit: Study evaluated the putative anti-inflammatory mechanism of acerola. Studies have shown that phytochemicals like alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, curcumin and phenolics have COX inhibitory activities. Results showed methanolic fractions showed greater suppression of ROS and partial decrease of nitric oxide levels in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages cell line. The fraction also exhibited inhibition of enzyme expression of COX-1/2. Also, BRS-238, a ripe fruit genotype of acerola exhibited selective action against COX-2, confirming the hypothesis of acerola's anti-inflammatory action. (27)
• Phenolic Compounds and Inhibition of Digestive Enzymes / Bagasse Flour: Study evaluate a methanol extract of acerola bagasse flour for its potential as source of inhibitors of enzymes α-amylase,
α-glucosidase, lipase, and trypsin. The following phenolic compounds were gallic acid, syringic and p-coumaric acid, catechin, epigallocatechin gallate, epicatechin and quercetin,. Epicatechin was the major compound. The extract was able to inhibit in vitro digestive enzymes α-amylase and α-glucosidase. Results suggest a good source of inhibitors and potential as auxillary treatment of obesity, associated co-morbidities and control of T2DM. (28)
• Enzymatic Inhibition / Modulatory Action on Hemostatic Processes / Fruit Bagasse: Acerola bagasse extracts were characterized by HPLC and evaluated for modulatory action on phospholipases A2 and proteases involved in processes such as inflammation and blood clotting. The extracts of acerola yielded phenolic compounds that can modulate the activity of enzymes such as phospholipases A2 and proteases that act on the coagulant/anticoagulant and thrombotic/thrombolytic activities and the break of phospholipids, decreasing the inflammation and platelet aggregation. (29)
- Herbal capsules and powder in the cybermarket.