Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Are Acerola Cherries Bad For You?

Also Known As: Barbados cherries, West Indian cherries



Short answer

Acerola cherries, with their high vitamin C, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, can contribute to overall health and wellness, and are not bad for you when consumed in moderation. Overconsumption can lead to vitamin C overdose and potential digestion issues. They are an excellent addition to a balanced diet, but those on medications should be aware of potential interactions.



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Long answer

Acerola Cherries Nutritional Profile: A Superfruit?

When exploring the nutritional makeup of acerola cherries, one may quickly conclude that these small, bright red fruits pack a substantial health punch. Acerola cherries, also known as West Indian cherries or Barbados cherries, are often celebrated as a superfruit—a term used to describe nutrient-rich fruits that have a potential positive impact on one's health.

One of the most astounding nutritional qualities of acerola cherries is their exceptionally high vitamin C content. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant and essential for the immune system, skin health, and the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. Remarkably, acerola cherries contain far more vitamin C per gram than even oranges, a commonly touted source of this nutrient.

Vitamin C: Acerola cherries can provide as much as 1,677 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit—a stark contrast to the 53 milligrams found in oranges. Such high levels can significantly contribute to the recommended daily intake of this essential vitamin, which stands at 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

But the wonder of acerola cherries doesn't stop at vitamin C. They also offer a variety of other nutrients that boost their profile, including:

  • Vitamins: Apart from vitamin C, acerola cherries contain vitamin A, which supports vision and immune function, and an array of B vitamins that play a role in energy metabolism and brain health.
  • Minerals: Essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium are present in small amounts. Potassium is vital for blood pressure regulation, magnesium for muscle and nerve function, and calcium for bone health.
  • Antioxidants: The presence of carotenoids and bioflavonoids—compounds known for their antioxidant properties—add to the cherry's ability to fight oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Fiber: Fiber in acerola cherries aids digestion and helps maintain steady blood sugar levels.
  • Phytochemicals: These naturally occurring plant chemicals, including anthocyanins, which give the cherries their red color, have health-promoting properties.

The low calorie and high nutrient density of acerola cherries make them an excellent addition to a health-conscious diet. A 100-gram serving contains just around 32 calories, making it a weight-management-friendly fruit.

Further underlining the potency of acerola cherries, a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology documented that the antioxidant properties of acerola extracts are superior to those of green tea, a beverage celebrated for its health benefits. This suggests that incorporating acerola cherries into your diet can be an effective way of enhancing total antioxidant intake.

However, it's essential to consider the source of your acerola cherries. Those consumed fresh are likely to provide the most benefits, while processed forms like powders and juices may have reduced nutrient levels. It's also important to monitor intake, as excessive consumption of vitamin C can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort and contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals.

In conclusion, the nutritional profile of acerola cherries firmly establishes them as a superfruit worthy of addition to a balanced diet. With their rich composition of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they can play a part in supporting overall health and wellness. As with any dietary addition, moderation is key to ensuring you reap the benefits without overloading on certain nutrients.

Risk of Vitamin C Overdose from Acerola Cherries

As a fruit exceptionally rich in vitamin C, acerola cherries carry the potential for someone to consume an excessive amount of this essential nutrient. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a vital water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions, including the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, proper immune system function, and the maintenance of bones and teeth.

Consuming foods high in vitamin C is generally beneficial and considered safe. However, there is a threshold known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), which for vitamin C is set at 2,000 milligrams per day for adults, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Going beyond this limit can lead to potential side effects, usually when consumed in supplement form rather than food sources.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adult men is 90 milligrams and for adult women is 75 milligrams. Acerola cherries contain approximately 1,678 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, as reported by the USDA National Nutrient Database. This means that even a small quantity of acerola cherries could contribute significantly to this daily requirement.

Although rare, excessive consumption of vitamin C can lead to symptoms that include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Insomnia

More serious side effects of a vitamin C overdose may involve kidney stones and severe digestive upset, particularly in individuals with preexisting kidney disorders. A study in the journal "JAMA Internal Medicine" suggested that men who take large doses of vitamin C supplements are at a higher risk of developing kidney stones.

However, it's important to note that the risk of overdosing on vitamin C from natural sources like acerola cherries alone is relatively low. Issues tend to arise when individuals also consume high doses of vitamin C supplements. It's crucial to maintain a balanced approach to nutrition and consult with healthcare providers before taking large doses of any vitamin supplements, especially if you regularly include vitamin C-rich foods like acerola cherries in your diet.

Natural Sugars in Acerola: Caloric Impact

Acerola cherries, also known as Barbados or West Indian cherries, contain natural sugars that are intrinsic to the sweet taste of most fruits. When discussing the caloric impact of these sugars, it's essential to understand that they, like all sugars, contribute to the overall calorie content of the fruit. Despite this, the sugars found in acerola cherries are paired with numerous health benefits, which can help mitigate some of the negative effects typically associated with sugar intake.

The natural sugars in acerola cherries primarily consist of fructose, glucose, and sucrose. These sugars provide a quick source of energy to the body, as they are easily broken down during digestion. According to research, the average content of natural sugars in acerola cherries is about 4.5 grams per 100 grams of raw fruit. This is relatively low compared to many other fruits, which means that acerola can be considered a low-calorie option, contributing only minorly to daily energy intake.

For reference, a small acerola cherry weighing approximately 4.5 grams would provide roughly 0.2 grams of natural sugars. In terms of caloric impact, considering the standard conversion that carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, this would equate to less than one calorie per cherry. Here's a simplified breakdown:

Acerola Cherry Weight (grams) Natural Sugars (grams) Caloric Value (calories)
4.5 0.2 <1

The low-calorie content of acerola cherries makes them an excellent choice for weight management. However, it's still important to consume them in moderation, especially for individuals who need to monitor their sugar intake, such as those with diabetes or those prone to high blood sugar levels.

Furthermore, the fruit is brimming with Vitamin C and other antioxidants, which have been shown to support the immune system and combat oxidative stress. These nutrients also play a crucial role in mitigating the negative effects of sugar on the body by improving sugar metabolism and reducing inflammation.

In conclusion, while the caloric impact of the natural sugars in acerola cherries should be considered, it is comparatively low, and the sugars come bundled with a variety of health-promoting nutrients. Additionally, the high fiber content of acerola can help slow sugar absorption into the bloodstream, resulting in more stable blood sugar levels, which further attributes to the nutritional value of this fruit.

Potential Allergic Reactions to Acerola Cherries

Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies certain food proteins as harmful, leading to a range of symptoms. When it comes to acerola cherries, a generally nutritious fruit rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, there are some instances where individuals might experience allergic reactions. It's important to understand the signs of an allergic reaction and the specific allergens related to acerola cherries:

  • Histamine Intolerance: Acerola cherries, like many fruits, contain histamines which can cause symptoms in people with histamine intolerance. This is not a classic allergic reaction but can include similar symptoms such as hives, itching, or gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS): Some individuals with pollen allergies, especially those allergic to birch pollen, may experience OAS upon consuming acerola cherries. Symptoms include itchy throat and mouth and can occur immediately after eating the fruit.
  • Cross-Reactivity: There is a possibility of cross-reactivity between acerola cherries and other fruits, especially those in the Rosaceae family. If an individual is allergic to fruits such as apples or peaches, they might also react to acerola cherries.
  • Latex-Fruit Syndrome: People with a latex allergy may have a higher risk of being allergic to acerola cherries due to cross-reacting allergens.

These reactions, while not usually life-threatening, can be uncomfortable. If you suspect an allergy to acerola cherries, it's advisable to get tested by an allergist. The following are common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Skin reactions such as hives, eczema, or itching
  • Swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or face
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Congestion, sneezing, or a runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing

The likelihood of an allergy to acerola cherries is relatively rare, but awareness is crucial for those with existing food allergies or sensitivities. Individuals with known allergies to other fruits should approach acerola cherries cautiously and consult with a healthcare professional before introducing them into the diet.

Reactions can range from mild to severe, and in rare cases, can progress to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. If you or someone around you is experiencing severe allergic reaction symptoms, seek emergency medical care promptly.

For those who are allergic or intolerant to acerola cherries, alternatives rich in vitamin C include oranges, kiwi, and bell peppers. Ensuring a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet can help maintain nutritional balance even if acerola cherries need to be avoided.

Drug Interactions and Acerola Cherry Consumption

Acerola cherries, also known as Barbados cherries or West Indian cherries, are a nutrient-rich fruit containing a high level of Vitamin C among other nutrients. While incorporating acerola cherries into your diet can offer a range of health benefits, it is important to understand how they might interact with certain medications. Let's explore the possible drug interactions that should be considered if you're including acerola cherries in your diet.

Warfarin and Anticoagulants

Patients taking warfarin or other anticoagulant medications should monitor their intake of foods high in Vitamin K, which plays a significant role in blood clotting. Although acerola cherries are not particularly high in Vitamin K, they are abundant in Vitamin C. High doses of Vitamin C (above 1,000 mg per day) may affect the effectiveness of warfarin, potentially leading to an increased risk of bleeding. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that high doses of Vitamin C can reduce the therapeutic effect of warfarin.

Chemotherapy Drugs

While the antioxidant properties of acerola cherries can be beneficial, they may interact with certain chemotherapy drugs. Antioxidants can potentially interfere with the oxidative damage that chemotherapy agents aim to induce in cancer cells. As such, patients undergoing chemotherapy should consult with their healthcare providers before consuming high-antioxidant foods or supplements, according to research from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Statins and Other Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Patients on statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs may need to watch their intake of high Vitamin C foods like acerola cherries. Vitamin C has been observed to increase the blood level of statins, potentially leading to side effects or toxicity. A paper in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses this interaction, highlighting the importance for patients to talk to their doctor about their diet when taking these medications.

Data on Specific Drug Interactions

Since direct research on acerola cherries and drug interactions is limited, we extrapolate from known interactions between high doses of nutrients found in acerola cherries and medications. Detailed data on specific interactions can be found in resources such as the Database of Interactions, Side Effects, and Contraindications maintained by the National Institutes of Health.

In conclusion, while acerola cherries offer significant health benefits, individuals who are on certain medications should be cautious of potential drug-nutrient interactions. Consulting with healthcare professionals before making major changes to your diet or starting a new supplement is always recommended, particularly if you have existing health conditions or are on medications.

Frequently asked questions

Absolutely! Acerola cherries are a plant-based source of nutrients and fit perfectly into both vegan and vegetarian diets. They provide a substantial amount of vitamin C, along with other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, supporting a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet.

Yes, acerola cherries can be beneficial for skin health due to their high vitamin C content, which supports the production of collagen—a protein vital for skin elasticity and firmness. Antioxidants in the fruit also protect against oxidative stress, potentially helping to prevent signs of aging and damage from UV exposure.

The fiber in acerola cherries aids in digestion by promoting bowel regularity and preventing constipation. It also helps maintain steady blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which is particularly beneficial for those managing diabetes or insulin sensitivity.

To best preserve the nutrient content of acerola cherries, they should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed relatively quickly, as their high vitamin C content can degrade over time. Fresh cherries can also be frozen for longer storage, which can retain most nutrients for several months.

Ask a question about Acerola Cherries and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • heartburn
  • headache
  • insomnia

Possible long-term side effects

  • kidney stones
  • severe digestive upset

Ingredients to be aware of

  • excessive vitamin c


  • high vitamin c
  • immune system support
  • skin health
  • promotes iron absorption
  • rich in antioxidants
  • aids digestion
  • helps regulate blood sugar
  • low calorie
  • aids weight management

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Acerola Powder

  • Rich in Vitamin C
  • Boosts immune system
  • Organic superfood
  • Vegan friendly
  • Perfect for beverages
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 05-07-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 05-07-2024

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