Barbados Cherry Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Barbados Cherries

Raw, fresh Barbados cherries

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Low in calories and containing one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C for any plant-derived fruit in the world, Barbados cherries offer a bounty of health benefits, including a rich dose of antioxidants, an ability to combat obesity and aging, and a reduction in skin pigmentation. 

A tropical fruit native to the Caribbean and South America, you will find Barbados cherries in abundance throughout the Bahamas and Bermuda. Also known as Acerola cherry or berry, this fruit grows on a large shrub or tree with a short trunk containing evergreen, slightly wavy leaves. Each tree produces up to 62 pounds of cherries that offer a sweet-to-tart flavor profile. The fruit itself grows into a wide shape when it's ready for harvesting. Each cherry contains a bright red, thin skin, and comes packed with juice. You can eat them raw, but many do posess a tart flavor. You can cut the tartness by adding them as an ingredient in recipes. 

Because of their intense red coloring, Barbados cherries often get used in jellies and jams; alcoholic beverages such as wine; desserts such as ice creams, pies and popsicles; syrups; and sauces.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided for one Barbados cherry (1cm to 1.5cm long).

  • Calories: 1
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.4g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs in Barbados Cherry
One Barbados cherry offers little carbohydrates, less than half a gram. The fruit also does not provide a healthy dose of dietary fiber. You should look to add fruits higher in fiber content to your diet, such as apples, bananas, and strawberries, for healthy digestion.
The Barbados cherry also falls quite low glycemic index at 20, as well as contains a low calorie and sugar count.

Fats in Barbados Cherry
Barbados cherries do not contain fats. You should, however, incorporate healthy fats into your diet. This includes foods such as salmon, avocados, nuts, and legumes.

Protein in Barbados Cherry
This fruit does not offer any protein. To determine your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein, you can multiply your weight by 0.36 or use the DRI calculator established by the United States Department of Agriculture. Healthy proteins include lean meats, salmon, nuts, and legumes.

Micronutrients in Barbados Cherry
Barbados cherries contain some electrolytes, which include a small amount of sodium and potassium. Eating them after a workout helps you replenish lost sodium. You can either eat them raw or mix them into a smoothie with some protein powder for a health post-workout treat.
This fruit also offers a large dose of Vitamin C. You can eat one and already hit your RDA (and only take in one calorie). Vitamin C helps boost your immune system, promotes muscle and collagen growth, and assists in the body’s ability to absorb iron.  

Health Benefits

Barbados cherries get incorporated into more than food products due to their health and wellness benefits. You will find them in creams, lotions and skin care products, as they remain quite popular in the beauty industry.

A few of their proven health benefits include the following:

Obesity Prevention
Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. More than 35% of adults in this country are considered obese, per the National Institute of Health. To help prevent this major health issue, try incorporating the juice from Barbados cherries into your diet. The juice can prohibit weight gain and cholesterol level increases, as well as reinforce your metabolism. The juice can also aid with using free fatty acids as an energy source, according to a study published in Molecular Neurobiology. Plus, they are low in calories and fat. 

Reducing Aging and Preventing Liver Damage
In a study from Pharmacognosy Journal, lab mice were given plant extracts from Acerola, the tropical fruit known as the Barbados cherry. Researchers then studied the natural fruit juice’s potential to guard against oxidative stress. They found the juice inhibited peroxidation and helped protect against liver damage in the mice. 

Combatting Skin Pigmentation Issues
In a 2017 study from PLOS ONE, acerola juice suppressed UVB-induced skin pigmentation in lab mice by decreasing the genes causing skin darkening.

Common Questions

How do you grow Barbados cherries?
You can grow Barbados cherries in the U.S., but you need to live in a state with a warm climate. Barbados cherry trees do not survive in freezing weather. But they can make it through short drops in temperature, down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit if this drop doesn't last long. The area in which you choose to grow a tree should include lots of sunshine and little wind, and be away from any excess weeds.

To begin the planting process, you should clean the soil and remove any excess rubble. Then, add compost to the soil as Barbados cherry trees grow better in acidic versus neutral soil. Once you perfect the soil, you can plant Barbados cherry seeds, but be sure to use only seeds from fully ripe fruit. Also, you should clean and dry all seeds first.

If you choose to use seedlings instead of seeds, make sure each seedling measures two to three inches in height before transferring them into the ground or their own long planter. If you do plant them in the ground, keep them more than 15 feet apart because they will grow wide and spread the roots out.

Before they mature, you should water the trees at regular intervals. Once they do reach maturity, you can cut back on watering.

Once you start to see growth, apply citrus fertilizer, which you can purchase at any nursery or hardware store with a garden center.

How big will Barbados cherry trees grow?
They can grow up to 20 feet wide and quite tall. If you do decide to plant them, you should make sure your garden can handle the size and that they will get enough sun.

Do I need to worry about pesticides?
Barbados cherries can get pesticides, the most serious of which is known as the root-knot nematode. You should look for mildew, rotting cherries and brown spots on leaves to avoid eating a cherry containing pesticides.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

You need to eat Barbados cherries soon after harvesting as they start to decompose within three to five days, as well as lose much of their nutritional value. Freezing them can help with preservation if you can’t eat them right away. Once you get them in your home, wash them in cold water, drain and dry them with a paper towel before eating.

Many of the cherries have a rather tart flavor, so adding them into recipes can cut this down. Try putting them in smoothies, dropping them on top of your oatmeal and making them the star of desserts like pie or parfaits.

Some recipes to try include the following:

Allergies and Interactions

Most allergies to Barbados cherries are related to an oral allergy syndrome, otherwise known as a pollen-food allergy syndrome. This occurs when allergens in pollen and raw fruits cross-react. This type of allergy doesn’t typically show up in young children, but rather makes its first appearance in teenagers and young adults. This can happen even when they have eaten the same fruits throughout their entire lives without any allergy issues.

If you feel like you get an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, swelling around the mouth or lips, or itchy ears after eating raw fruits and vegetables, you might want to schedule an appointment with an allergist to determine if you have oral allergy syndrome.

If you do have an allergy or irritation when eating raw fruits such as Barbados cherries, you can cook them instead. During the cooking process, the heat distorts the proteins and the immune system doesn’t recognize the fruit anymore. However, your doctor might suggest avoiding this fruit altogether to best manage your allergy. You should talk to your medical professional before you continue to consume them. 

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