Acerola (Malpighia glabra), also known as the West Indian cherry, is a small, bright-red fruit indigenous to Central America and Puerto Rico. Acerola berries are crushed, and the juice is extracted under carefully controlled conditions to avoid oxidation. The juice extract is then dried to make a powdered extract. Acerola berries contain Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), carotenoids, and polyphenols. Three specific polyphenols have been extracted from acerola: cyaniding-3-α-O-rhamnoside (C3R), perlargonidin-3-α-)-rhamnoside (P3R), and quercetin-3-α-O-rhamnoside (quercitrin).1 C3R and P3R are anthocyanins and serve as antioxidants in the body.1
Acerola not only works as an antioxidant due to its high Vitamin C content, but also increases the absorption and retention of Vitamin C.2,3 Since Acerola extract may reduce oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL: low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol), Acerola may be implicated in preventing the formation of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis) and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.4 It has been suggested in lab studies that the polyphenols in Acerola may help control blood glucose and reduce darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) from UVB rays.1,5
Hanamura T, Mayama C, Aoki H, Hirayama Y, Shimizu M. Antihyperglycemic effect of polyphenols from Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) fruit. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Aug;70(8):1813-20. PubMed PMID: 16926491
Leffa DD, da Silva J, Daumann F, Dajori AL, Longaretti LM, Damiani AP, de Lira F, Campos F, Ferraz Ade B, Côrrea DS, de Andrade VM. Corrective effects of acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) juice intake on biochemical and genotoxical parameters in mice fed on a high-fat diet. Mutat Res. 2014 Dec;770:144-52. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2013.11.005. Epub 2013 Dec 1. PubMed PMID: 24296107.
Uchida E, Kondo Y, Amano A, Aizawa S, Hanamura T, Aoki H, Nagamine K, Koizumi T, Maruyama N, Ishigami A. Absorption and excretion of ascorbic acid alone and in acerola (Malpighia emarginata) juice: comparison in healthy Japanese subjects. Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;34(11):1744-7. PubMed PMID: 22040889.
Hwang J, Hodis HN, Sevanian A. Soy and alfalfa phytoestrogen extracts become potent low-density lipoprotein antioxidants in the presence of acerola cherry extract. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Jan;49(1):308-14. PubMed PMID: 11170593.
Hanamura T, Uchida E, Aoki H. Skin-lightening effect of a polyphenol extract from Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) fruit on UV-induced pigmentation. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Dec;72(12):3211-8. Epub 2008 Dec 7. PubMed PMID: 19060403.