Acerola powder: uses and nutritional benefits

The acerola is a shrub of the Malpighiaceae family. It grows naturally in tropical regions. When mature, the acerola tree produces small bright red fruits called acerola. The acerola looks like cherries, its tangy taste is incorporated into many recipes. It is consumed in juice, jelly, fresh, dried or powder. Acerola powder and juice are the two most common ways to consume it. The powder is more interesting for the maintenance of the bioactive compounds of the acerola. Indeed, this small fruit does not look like much. However, it easily enters the top 2 of the foods richest in vitamin C. Acerola is so rich in vitamin C, that only 1 g of acerola provides more than 200% of our daily needs! One dust of acerola would be enough... This richness in vitamin C, more than surprising, confers multiple benefits to the acerola powder: immunomodulating, antioxidant, collagen synthesis, etc. In addition to containing an exorbitant amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), acerola also contains other compounds, such as fibers that act on cholesterol and digestive transit; or phytonutrients that increase the antioxidant potential of acerola. Latin name: Malpighiaemarginata DC. Botanical family: Malpighiaceae. Part used : Fruit.

To fight against oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is the result of an unbalanced diet, overexposure to environmental pollutants and continuous stress. The latter is responsible for the formation of excess free radicals. To counteract this phenomenon, it is important to have a better lifestyle. Moreover, acerola can be supplemented as part of a balanced diet. Indeed, thanks to its composition in flavonoids, carotenoids, phenolic compounds and in particular in vitamin C, the latter has very important antioxidant properties. In this way, these elements contribute in their own way to limit the multiplication of free radicals and protect the cells of the body against oxidative stress. Therefore,acerola can help protect the body against premature aging of cells, but also, from certain age-related diseases.

Tips from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1g/d of acerola powder, that is ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • Don't hesitate to consume seasonal fruits and vegetables that can provide the antioxidant vitamins you need.

For a better iron absorption

Iron of vegetable origin, i.e. from legumes, cereal products or oil seeds, is assimilated between 1 and 15%, and that of animal origin is assimilated up to 40%. In both cases, its absorption is not completely optimal. Nevertheless, there are several solutions to improve the absorption of the latter, including acerola. Indeed, this superfood is full of nutrients, and in particular vitamin C, which is strongly involved in the assimilation of iron. Enriching one's daily diet with acerola would therefore be very effective in allowing better iron absorption, especially for flexitarians, vegetarians or vegans. Also concerned are people prone to iron deficiency or deficiency, including menstruating, pregnant or lactating women.

In addition, there are several foods that can reduce the absorption of iron. It is therefore recommended not to consume coffee, tea, milk and alcohol while taking acerola.

Tips from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1g/d of acerola powder, or ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • Do not hesitate to add iron from animal sources to your dishes: eggs, red or white meat, liver and seafood, or iron from plant sources: spirulina, legumes (white beans, lentils, broad beans and chickpeas) and oilseeds.
  • Avoid drinking coffee, tea or alcohol with your meals so that you don't interfere with the absorption of iron from your food.

To reduce fatigue

Fatigue can have many etiologies, but most often it is a symptom of vitamin C deficiency. The latter is widespread to contribute to a normal energy metabolism, which therefore helps to reduce fatigue. Similarly, acerola can contribute significantly to reducing fatigue states given its high vitamin C content. Acerola is also indicated in the case of convalescence after a cold or flu condition. In addition, before an important physical effort or an exam, it is recommended to take acerola in order to prevent the symptoms of great fatigue that can occur.

In addition, iron deficiency anemia or iron deficiency can be responsible for the onset of fatigue, which in some cases is accompanied by exhaustion and even a feeling of being out of breath. It is important to know that iron plays a major role in the transport of oxygen to the cells. However, when the level of ferritin is low (< 30 µg/L of blood), the oxygen supply to certain vital organs, in particular the lungs, is too low. To alleviate this phenomenon, acerola, being very rich in vitamin C, can help improve the absorption of iron provided by the diet and thereby ensure ferritin storage in the body to reduce fatigue.

Tips from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1g/d of acerola powder, that is ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • In the case of a cold, flu or severe fatigue, gradually increase the dose to 2g/d.
  • Adding iron from animal and/or vegetable sources to your diet will help reduce daily fatigue.

To strengthen the immune system

Vitamin C is widely used to maintain the proper functioning of the immune system. Its role is to stimulate the production of small proteins called cytokines that are responsible for communication between the cells of the immune system. Thus, they activate the immune response when the body needs to defend itself against a foreign substance. Adding acerola to one's diet will therefore help strengthen one's immune system thanks to its high vitamin C content, but also to the flavonoids and carotenoids that will contribute to this effect on their scale.

Tips from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1g/d of acerola powder, or ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • Don't hesitate to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables that can provide the vitamins and minerals necessary for the normal functioning of the immune system (vitamin A, B, C, D, iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper).

To promote sleep

Acerola has an indirect effect on the improvement of sleep. Indeed, thanks to the vitamin C contained in it, the latter will allow a better assimilation of iron, which, moreover, will intervene in the synthesis of serotonin. This last one is transformed thereafter, after the fall of the night, into melatonin, called commonly: the hormone of the sleep. This hormone is essential to facilitate falling asleep and to regulate the sleep cycle.

Moreover, the sleep phase is very important so that the liver can do its detoxification role. The acerola, being very rich in antioxidants, will be able to bring an additional help to the liver in order to support a better sleep during the night.

Tips from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1g/d of acerola powder, or ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • Bring foods rich in tryptophan (fish, milk and cheese, poultry, eggs, legumes, bananas, cocoa, peanuts, nuts, almonds...) at the end of the evening in order to stimulate the secretion of serotonin and then melatonin, the sleep hormone.
  • Avoid consuming acerola in the evening in case of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) because the fruit is particularly acidic and can cause acid reflux that can disrupt sleep or promote night wakings.

To take care of your hair

Acerola can be a support for the growth of hair, and this is thanks to the action of vitamin C. Since it will increase the assimilation of iron, the latter will intervene in the oxygenation of the cells of the body, especially those responsible for the reproduction of hair. Moreover, vitamin C contributes to the production of collagen. Collagen is essential for the health of the hair, but also in the synthesis of keratin, a protein that is part of the composition of nails and hair. Collagen will therefore improve the action of certain hair cells to obtain shinier hair. Acerola can also help preserve the health of the scalp by protecting it from the consequences of oxidative stress. Being rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, the latter can neutralize the free radicals responsible for cell aging. Thus, acerola is recommended as part of a balanced and varied diet. It is essential to avoid iron or vitamin B8 deficiency, to have a good hydration, a complete sleep and to do a regular physical activity in order to avoid stress factors or those incriminated in hair loss.

Tips from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1g/d of acerola powder, or ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • Be sure to include foods rich in iron and vitamin B8 for healthy hair.
  • Avoid stressors that can lead to massive hair loss.

To take care of your skin

It is important to know that a healthy lifestyle and adequate hydration will exert an influence on the quality of the skin. Adding acerola to one's diet will help produce collagen, which is involved in the elasticity of the skin, and this is thanks to the action of vitamin C. In addition, since acerola is rich in other antioxidants, these will help neutralize the free radicals responsible for skin aging. This will therefore limit brown spots, wrinkles and sagging skin due to aging.

How to use it?

  • Orally: consume 1g/d of acerola powder, or ½ teaspoon of powder, which is 175 mg of vitamin C.
  • By skin: incorporate acerola in your shower gels or moisturizers. It is also possible to make homemade masks with acerola.

Unfounded reputations

  • Vitamin C has often been questioned. The latter is considered by some people as "energizing, which can disrupt sleep during the night". However, Vitamin C is not an exciting element like caffeine, theophylline or theobromine which they, on the contrary, will prevent sleep if consumed in the evening. Also, vitamin C cannot be considered as energizing because it does not provide any calories. Energy is obtained from macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The latter are not responsible for the disruption of the sleep cycle either. These preconceived notions led to the belief that acerola, being very rich in vitamin C, could not be consumed at night. Nevertheless, the latter will in no way be responsible for a disruption of the sleep cycle.
  • In addition, it is often stated that acerola powder is high in fiber. In accordance with the claim that a foodstuff is rich in fiber, this claim can only be made if the product contains at least 6 g of fiber per 100 g. In the case of acerola powder, in fact, per 100g, it contains 12g of fiber. However, the admitted daily dose is 1 g/d. Therefore, it cannot be considered in this case that acerola powder is rich in fiber, or that it could have a laxative effect at the recommended dose per day, contrary to popular belief.

Precautions for use and side effects

It is important to be cautious about the consumption of acerola given its high Vitamin C content. It is advisable not to exceed the recommended consumption of acerola powder in order to avoid side effects of overdosing which can manifest as diarrhea, gas or flatulence.

For certain pathologies, it would be necessary to take the advice of your doctor before starting a cure, especially in the case of :

Hemochromatosis (when the level of ferritin is greater than 300mg/L in the blood): The vitamin C contained in acerola will promote the assimilation of iron provided by the diet. On the other hand, the latter may have an effect opposite to that expected: that of releasing excess free radicals that will be responsible for premature aging of the body. Moreover, in more serious cases, it can provoke a risk of severe cardiac insufficiency when the vitamin C intake exceeds 500 mg/d.

From renal pathology:Acerola is contraindicated in people with a history of kidney stones of an oxalic nature. A high intake of vitamin C could promote the production of oxalates. These will subsequently go to attach to minerals to form crystals, thus called kidney stones, in the same way as for people with acute or chronic renal failure.

Allergy or hypersensitivity:The consumption of acerola is strongly discouraged in people with irritable bowel syndrome since it contains fructose. Similarly for people with an allergy to LTP (lipid transfer protein), the latter are the phytoallergens of some fruits and vegetables (nuts, peaches, hazelnuts ...) recently discovered in acerola. It would also be important to read the ingredients or composition of some food products since acerola is often used in jams, candies, juices or liqueurs with red fruits.

Nutritional values

*Recommended Daily Allowance

To know more about the plant : Acerola

The acerola is a shrub of the Malpighiaceae family. Native to the tropical regions of South America, it grows today from the north throughout South America and the Caribbean. Thanks to the climate and soils suitable for the cultivation of acerola, Brazil is the main producer.

The acerola flowers from April to November and the fruit ripens in 3 to 4 weeks. The fruits are small (maximum 4 cm) and weigh about 10 g. At the beginning, they have a green color which passes to orange red to finish on a bright red at the end of maturation. Its fruit, the Acerola, is consumed all over the world, mainly because of the health benefits of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Therefore, the tree shows a renewed interest in recent years, it is estimated that the world production represents 1 kg per second.

Organic Acerola (powder) rich in vitamin C (17.5%)

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