Animal study: acerola inhibits growth of fat tissue

Bodybuilders are always on the look out for strategies that will help minimise the growth of fat reserves while they’re on a high-calorie diet. An animal study done by researchers at the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil suggests that taking an acerola supplement might be one such strategy. And you might not even need that much of it.

The acerola is a kind of cherry that grows on the tropical bush called Malpighia emarginata. Acerola is packed with vitamin C, but also contains carotenoids, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and polyphenols, which are what have given acerola superfood status for a couple of decades.

In most of the shops and webstores that sell acerola youll find supplements that contain extracts of the fruit, but the Brazilians used different kinds of juice for their experiment: ordinary industrially produced juice [IND], juice made from unripe acerolas [UNR] and juice made from ripe acerolas [RIP].


The Brazilians fattened mice for 13 weeks, giving them a diet that included junk food [CAF]. One group of mice was given a standard diet, and this was used as the control group.

If you fatten animals they get inflammations in their fatty tissue, which speed up the growth of their fat reserves even more. The Brazilians wanted to know whether acerola supplementation would help reduce this, so they gave the lab animals 10 ml acerola juice per kg bodyweight daily.

The human equivalent of this dose, based on an adult weighing 80 kg, would be 80 ml per day. That’s a couple of shot glasses.


At the end of the 13 weeks the mice that had been given junk food but no acerola weighed significantly more than the other lab animals.


The Brazilians worked out an adiposity index based on the weight of the epididymal, mesenteric and retroperiotoneal adipose tissues. The index was very high in the mice that had been fattened, but acerola supplementation almost halved the increase.

Acerola supplementation reduced the increase of the amount of TNF-alpha in the fat tissue. TNF-Alpha is an inflammatory factor that inhibits the effect of insulin.



The acerola supplementation caused the fat cells to start producing more toll-like receptor-4. Via this receptor fat cells activate the immune system, thus ensuring that there are immune cells to clear away dead fat cells.

The Brazilians suspect that acerola helps the immune system to do its work better via toll-like receptor-4, and that as a result the production of obesity inducing signal molecules such as TNF-alpha increases by less.


“Future studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects associated with acerola juice intake, especially in mice fed a cafeteria high-fat diet”, the researchers wrote.

Acerola (Malpighia emarginata DC.) juice intake protects against alterations to proteins involved in inflammatory and lipolysis pathways in the adipose tissue of obese mice fed a cafeteria diet.



Obesity has been studied as a metabolic and an inflammatory disease and is characterized by increases in the production of pro-inflammatory adipokines in the adipose tissue.To elucidate the effects of natural dietary components on the inflammatory and metabolic consequences of obesity, we examined the effects of unripe, ripe and industrial acerola juice (Malpighia emarginata DC.) on the relevant inflammatory and lipolysis proteins in the adipose tissue of mice with cafeteria diet-induced obesity.


Two groups of male Swiss mice were fed on a standard diet (STA) or a cafeteria diet (CAF) for 13 weeks. Afterwards, the CAF-fed animals were divided into five subgroups, each of which received a different supplement for one further month (water, unripe acerola juice, ripe acerola juice, industrial acerola juice, or vitamin C) by gavage. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, Western blotting, a colorimetric method and histology were utilized to assess the observed data.


The CAF water (control obese) group showed a significant increase in their adiposity indices and triacylglycerol levels, in addition to a reduced IL-10/TNF-? ratio in the adipose tissue, compared with the control lean group. In contrast, acerola juice and Vitamin C intake ameliorated the weight gain, reducing the TAG levels and increasing the IL-10/TNF-? ratio in adipose tissue. In addition, acerola juice intake led to reductions both in the level of phosphorylated JNK and to increases in the phosphorylation of I?B? and HSLser660 in adipose tissue.


Taken together, these results suggest that acerola juice reduces low-grade inflammation and ameliorates obesity-associated defects in the lipolytic processes.

PMID: 24495336 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] PMCID: PMC3926336