A few short years ago, I spent a January day lounging on the beaches of Barbados. It felt amazing. I felt healthy and the common cold that’s such a fixture of the season was as far from my mind as my frozen homeland.
These days you can bring a little of Barbados home with you. Home to a superfood growing in recognition, Barbados cherries might lack the sand and sunshine, but they may provide a big boost to immunity.
Also called acerola cherries, Barbados cherries are native to the Caribbean and certain parts of Mexico. However, they can be grown and cultivated anywhere in the world, as they lend themselves nicely to greenhouses and gardens in warmer climates.
Unfortunately, a fresh acerola cherry is hard to find. They spoil very quickly and ripe ones will only last about three days. So, unless you happen to live where they are readily available or grow your own, you might have to rely on supplements. You may find juice, frozen, or pureed options, but it’s tough.
These cherries are rich in antioxidants and are also a good source of calcium (for strong bones and teeth), iron (for red blood cells, immune health, and energy) and a few B-vitamins. But what gives the Barbados cherry a real blast its immune-boosting vitamin C.
Research has shown that the Barbados cherry blows virtually every other food out of the water then it comes to vitamin C content. Not even citrus fruits have as much. Other than rosehip, you’re simply not getting more vitamin C from anything.
Vitamin C is an important part of your diet. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin this valuable antioxidant is not stored in the body and must be consumed daily. Thankfully it’s found in a host of fruits and vegetables and you don’t have to try too hard to get it (provided you’re eating the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables each day.)
Some of the benefits of vitamin C include a healthier immune system than can lead to shorter and less severe colds, wound healing, and healthy skin and hair because it plays a role in manufacturing collagen.
If you can get your hands on Barbados cherries, you’re in luck. They taste sweet and can be used to fill pies, top ice cream, or just snack on raw. If not, powdered form to add to smoothies can essentially function as a vitamin C supplement.