Barbados Cherry Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Raw, fresh Barbados cherries

Gilnature / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Barbados cherries are a tropical fruit native to the Caribbean and South America. Also known as Acerola cherry or berry, you will find them in abundance throughout the Bahamas and Bermuda. This fruit grows on a large shrub or tree with a short trunk. 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 has a bright red, thin skin, and comes packed with juice. You can eat them raw, but many have a tart flavor.

Because of their intense red coloring, Barbados cherries are often used in jellies and jams; alcoholic beverages such as wine; desserts such as ice creams, pies and popsicles; syrups; and sauces. Barbados cherries are low in calories and contain one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C for any plant-derived fruit in the world.

Barbados Cherry Nutrition Facts

A one-cup serving (98g) of Barbados cherry provides 31.4 calories, 0.4g of protein, 7.5g of carbohydrates, and 0.3g of fat. The cherries are also an excellent source of vitamin C. The nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 31.4
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 6.9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.5g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 0.4g
  • Vitamin C: 1650mg


Carbs

One cup of Barbados cherries offers just 7.5 grams of carbohydrates. The fruit does not provide a significant dose of dietary fiber (1 gram per 1-cup serving). If you are interested in increasing your fiber intake with fruit, you should look to add fruits higher in fiber to your diet, such as raspberries, pears, and oranges.

The USDA does not provide data about the amount of naturally occurring sugars in Barbados cherries.

Fats

Barbados cherries do not contain a significant amount of fat. A one-cup serving provides just 0.3 grams.

Protein

This fruit does not offer a significant amount of protein. You'll get under one gram (0.4 grams) in a one-cup serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

This fruit offers a large dose of vitamin C. A single serving provides a whopping 1650mg. The daily value (DV) set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that you consume 90mg per day.

Barbados cherry also provides some vitamin A (37.2mcg or 4% of the DV), 0.06mg of riboflavin (4.6% of DV), 0.4mg of niacin (or 2.5% of DV), 0.02mg of thiamin (1.6% of the DV) and smaller amounts of calcium and iron.

Calories

Barbados cherries are a low-calorie food, providing 31.4 calories per one-cup serving (nearly all from carbohydrate).

Summary

Barbados cherries, also called acerola cherries, are a low-fat, low-calorie, but also low-fiber cherry that provides more vitamin C than any other fruit. They do not provide any other significant vitamins or minerals.

Health Benefits

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

But proven health benefits are lacking. Most studies are limited in scope and performed on lab mice, not humans.

Protects Against Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C helps optimize your immune system, promotes muscle and collagen growth, and assists in the body’s ability to absorb iron found in plants, also called non-heme iron.

Acute vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy over time. Initial symptoms may appear within one month and can include fatigue, malaise, and inflammation of the gums.

Studies have shown that the vitamin C in acerola is better absorbed in the human body than the synthetic ascorbic acid, so supplements made from the fruit and acerola fruit concentrates may be an attractive alternative for individuals with vitamin C deficiency.

May Aid in Obesity Prevention

Approximately 42.4% adults are considered obese, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017 through 2018. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. These are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death.

In a 2017 study published in Molecular Neurobiology, acerola reversed some of the metabolism dysfunction caused by obesity in mice. However, more studies in humans are needed in order to conclude that acerola juice helps with obesity.

May Support Liver Health

In a study from 2013, lab mice were given plant extracts from Barbados cherry. Researchers then studied the fruit juice’s potential to guard against oxidative damage from alcohol-induced stress. Researchers found that acerola juice was able to prevent liver damage induced by alcohol in mice.

In another 2020 study done in mice that had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, acerola improved lipid metabolism and mitochondrial function while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. However, more studies need to be done in humans to confirm any health benefits.

May Combat Skin Pigmentation Issues

In a 2017 study, acerola juice suppressed UVB-induced skin pigmentation in lab mice by decreasing the genes causing skin darkening. But again, just because this benefit was found in limited conditions in mice, does not mean that the benefit extends to humans.

Allergies

Reports of allergy to Barbados cherries are extremely limited and related to an oral allergy syndrome.

There is one published report of an allergic reaction to apple juice that contained acerola extract. The patient developed developed a rash with skin redness, itching, difficulty breathing, and tachycardia five minutes after drinking the glass of juice.

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

Adverse Effects

Consuming too much vitamin C can be harmful for some people. According to the National Institutes of Health, you may experience diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps if you take too much. High doses of vitamin C can also worsen iron overload and damage body tissues in people with a condition called hemochromatosis.

The daily upper limits for vitamin C for adults is 2000mg per day. This includes intakes from all sources including foods and beverages. The limits are lower for children and teens.

When It's Best

Acerola or Barbados cherries are grown in full sun and harvested in late summer when they become bright red and are slightly soft to the touch.

Storage and Food Safety

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. Once you get them in your home, wash them in cold water, drain and dry them with a paper towel before eating.

Freezing the cherries can help with preservation if you can’t eat them right away. You can also juice the fruit and then freeze the juice.

How to Prepare

Barbados 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. You can use them in addition to or in place of more familiar cherries.

Was this page helpful?
11 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Acerola (West Indian cherry), raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.

  2. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C: Fact sheet for health professionals. Updated March 26, 2021.

  3. Prakash A, Baskaran R. Acerola, an untapped functional superfruit: a review on latest frontiersJ Food Sci Technol. 2018;55(9):3373-3384. doi:10.1007/s13197-018-3309-5

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult obesity facts. Updated  June 7, 2021.

  5. Leffa DD, Rezin GT, Daumann F, et al. Effects of acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) juice intake on brain energy metabolism of mice fed a cafeteria dietMol Neurobiol. 2017;54(2):954-963. doi:10.1007/s12035-016-9691-y

  6. Gomes Rochette NF, Mota EF, Nunes-Pinheiro DCS, et al. Effect of the pretreatment with acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) juice on ethanol-induced oxidative stress in mice – Hepatoprotective potential of acerola juiceFree Radic Antiox. 2013:S2231253613000489. doi:10.1016/J.FRA.2013.10.004

  7. Hu Y, Yin F, Liu Z, et al. Acerola polysaccharides ameliorate high-fat diet-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease through reduction of lipogenesis and improvement of mitochondrial functions in mice Food Funct. 2020;11(1):1037-1048. doi:10.1039/C9FO01611B

  8. Sato Y, Uchida E, Aoki H, et al. Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) juice intake suppresses uvb-induced skin pigmentation in smp30/gnl knockout hairless mice. Slominski AT, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(1):e0170438. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170438

  9. Allergy information for: Acerola (Malpighia glabra). University of Manchester. Updated October 2006.

  10. Raulf-Heimsoth M, Stark R, Sander I, et al. Anaphylactic reaction to apple juice containing acerola: Cross-reactivity to latex due to proheveinJ Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002;109(4):715-716. doi:10.1067/mai.2002.122464

  11. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Oral allergy syndrome. Updated March 21, 2019.