Malpighia glabra


Malpighia glabra


Unlike the standard cherry fruit, which is a member if the Rosaceae family along with other popular staple fruits (apples, pears, blackberries), Acerola Cherry is a member of the Malpighiaceae family along with other tropical plants such as Byrsonima lucida (Locustberry) and Banisteriopsis caapi (Caapi Vine). Acerola Cherry, also called West Indian Cherry and Barbados Cherry, is native to southern Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean islands. Acerola Cherry was a wild fruit shrub until it became commonly cultivated after WW2. During WW2, Acerola Cherry was given to Puerto Rican families to plant in victory gardens. After research done by the School of Tropical Medicine in San Juan Puerto Rico which discovered the fruit to be among the highest natural sources of vitamin C, Acerola Cherry was then planted in school yards to increase vitamin intake of the school children. Acerola Cherry is thought to have been introduced to Brazil around this time, and Brazil is now the top cultivator of Acerola Cherry. Acerola Cherry is a tart fruit that is seldom seen fresh outside of where it is cultivated due to its fragile nature.

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Traditional Health Benefits of Acerola

Immune Support

What is Acerola Used for?

Acerola Cherry is most notable for being a significant natural source of vitamin C other antioxidant compounds such as carotenoids. Acerola has been found to have up to 14.6mg vitamin C per 1g of ripe fruit , which is substantially higher than other common fruits like lychee (2.28mg/g), oranges (1.38mg/g), and black currants (1.8mg/g). Vitamin C acts as a cofactor for protein and hormone synthesis, and as a free-radical scavenger to fight oxidative stress in the body. Various factors can lead to oxidative stress, and oxidative stress can lead to tissue damage if there is insufficient antioxidant storage in the body. High glycemic diets, also called Western lifestyle cafeteria diets, are defined as being comprised of low-quality food that is high in saturated fat, refined sugar, and low in micronutrients and are associated with an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), or pro-oxidant compounds in the body. In a study of rats fed a ‘cafeteria diet’, supplementation of Acerola Cherry juice was found to decrease diet-induced oxidative damage to the kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. Vigorous exercise also leads to an increase in oxidative stress, and the consumption of antioxidant rich foods and herbs to mitigate tissue damage.

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Active Constituents of Acerola

Various antioxidant compounds including ascorbic acid (vitamin C), quercetin, carotenoids, hyperoside, kaempferol, astilbin, proanthocyanidin, and rutin.

Parts Used


Additional Resources

1.) 2.) Hanamura, T. et al. Structural and Functional Characterization of Polyphenols Isolated from Acerola (Malpighia emariginata DC.) Fruit. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2005 Feb;69(2):280-6. 3.) Nagamine I. et al. Effect of acerola cherry extract on cell proliferation and activation of ras signal pathway at the promotion stage of lung tumorigenesis in mice. J. Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol. (Tokyo), 48, 69—72 (2002). 4.) Uchida, E. et al. Absorption and Excretion of Ascorbic Acid Alone and in Acerola (Malpighia emarginata) Juice: Comparison in Healthy Japanese Subjects. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 34 (11) 1744—1747 (2011). 5.) Mondin M, Oliveira CA, Vieira MLC. Karyotype characterization of Malpighia emarginata (Malpighiaceae). Rev Bras Frutic. 2010;(32)2:369-374. 6.) 7.) 8.) Leffa, D.D. et al. Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) juice intake protects against oxidative damage in mice fed by cafeteria diet. Food Research International Volume 77, Part 3, November 2015, Pages 649-656. 9.) Moura, Carlos et al. Acerola—Malpighia emarginata. Exotic Fruits Reference Guide. 2018, Pages 7-14 10.) Gordon, A. 9 - Case study: addressing the problem of Alicyclobacillus in tropical beverages. Food Safety and Quality Systems in Developing Countries, Volume 2 Case Studies of Effective Implementation. 2017, Pages 245-276

Important Precautions

If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs, or if you are pregnant, please consult with your doctor before use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

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