What's the World's Best Source of Natural Vitamin C?
A fruit used to make a popular Puerto Rican candy is the world's best source of natural vitamin C. The acerola also known as the Barbados or malphigian cherry, is a small cherry-like tropical fruit commanding center stage of any presentation of nutritional fruits. Acerola fruit is fire-engine red, has a sweet-tart taste, and has an unbeatable concentration of vitamin C. While oranges provide 500 to 4,000 parts per million of vitamin C, acerola provides 16,000 to 172,000 parts per million of vitamin C. Acerola's carotene content is comparable to carrots, and it also supplies magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamine.
Acerola trees are usually highly productive, with as many as a thousand berries growing at the same time on the same tree. Each ripe berry has an edible thin, shiny, outer skin. The juicy pulp is orange, and tastes like a tart tropical raspberry. There are three inedible seeds in the center of each fruit. Harvested acerolas are easily bruised and highly perishable. They must be processed or frozen very quickly, within about four hours. This is why fresh acerola fruit is not found in the market.
No fruit has a higher vitamin C content than acerola, and acerola extracts are sometimes added to fruit juices. People who have an allergy to latex, however, often have an allergy to acerola. Such people should avoid fruit drinks if acerola is listed as an ingredient as well as Vitamin C from Acerola, USP.
Acerola is available in Latin American markets as a frozen purée. It also appears in cake toppings, ice cream syrup, gelatins, puddings, punch bowls, sherbets, and jelly. When acerola purée is added to fruit salad, its extraordinary concentration of vitamin C keeps other fruits from turning brown.