Aronia berry health benefits have been the topic of many a health-minded discussion lately. These berries are all the rage when it comes to nutrition and superfruit power. The reason? It’s as simple as their polyphenol content.
Believe it or not, there’s a whole lot of new research suggesting Aronia berry health benefits come from the polyphenols inside this amazing fruit.
Aronia berries, which are also known as chokeberries — because of their sour taste — can be found in parts of North America, though certain varieties touted for their antioxidant benefits come from Europe.
They grow on ornamental plants or bushes. They’re actually great for landscaping. But more than that, the berries themselves are potential health boosters in a major way. In fact, they are appearing as a key ingredient in many health supplements.
Where Do They Come From?
Aronia melanocarpa, or, simply Aronia, is a small, dark, cherry-looking berry plant that originated in the eastern part of North America.1 Aronia grows wild in swamps and in woodlands. In the 1940s, Russia began to cultivate Aronia berries for commercial use. In the 1950s, Eastern Europe followed suit.2 Today, Aronia berries are grown throughout the U.S.
But why Aronia? What makes it so special, aside from the fact that the plant itself is quite attractive in a garden?
Aronia contains high amounts of polyphenols, which have been found to have myriad positive effects on both healthy individuals and those with non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.3
What Do Aronia Berries Taste Like?
A ripe Aronia berry is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. If you were to take a red grape, a cherry, and a raspberry you might come close to the flavor of the Aronia berry.
The acid content in an Aronia berry gives it a sour bite… almost like a cranberry. But the blend of sweet and tart is evenly balanced. With a flavor like that, you can enjoy Aronia berries fresh, juiced, or added to some of your favorite baked treats.
With a tart sweetness in every bite, why wouldn’t you want to partake of Aronia berry health benefits?
What’s a Superfruit?
By now, most of you know about superfoods … but what about superfruits? This is a real thing. These superfruits set themselves apart from other fruits because they’ve been found to have “super” effects on our health. Berries like cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and Aronia berries are good sources of polyphenols.4
And, Aronia is called the superstar superfruit because it contains the highest amount of antioxidants compared to acai berries and blueberries. The antioxidants found in Aronia may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.5,6 In fact, a scientific study revealed that Aronia was at the top of the list among more than 100 foods that were tested for antioxidant properties.7
No wonder it’s called a superstar superfruit!
The antioxidants found in Aronia berries are mostly polyphenols.
Polyphenols are the most abundant type of antioxidant found in our daily diet. They work hand-in-hand with other antioxidants found in our food, including vitamins C and E.
Together, they help protect the body from free radicals and oxidative stress.8 In one experiment, it was found that Aronia extract can reduce the oxidative stress in blood cells of patients with breast cancer.9
Aronia berries also contain compounds called phenols. Studies have shown that phenols play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of some serious illnesses.10
The Power of Polyphenols
Polyphenols are largely found in food and drinks, such as jams, cereals, wine, and coffee, and in a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, particularly berries.
Over the past 10 years, research on the effect of polyphenols in the human diet has increased. In these studies, it has been discovered that polyphenols may play a significant role in preventing age-related diseases.11
Aronia berries are believed to have more antioxidant power than blueberries, prunes, cranberries, cherries, apples, and oranges.12
Polyphenols in Sunscreen?
Polyphenols are used in certain sunscreens because research has shown that they are good at inhibiting UV radiation from sunlight.13 Polyphenols may help to prevent the deterioration of various tissues in the body. They play a significant role in anti-aging.14 Research has shown that polyphenols can promote cardiovascular health.15
Studies have shown that there is a long-term, beneficial effect in consuming polyphenols in people with high blood pressure.16 One study using Aronia extract showed that it may have a beneficial effect on those with multiple sclerosis (MS).17
Latest Health Studies
One study surmised a possible health benefit of Aronia berries (and other berries containing polyphenols) for certain ailments. 18 Another health study showed that adding polyphenols in your diet may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
When a fruit or vegetable is vibrantly purple, it contains a particular antioxidant known as anthocyanin, a plant pigment. Chokeberries contained the highest level of anthocyanin of all berries tested in one particular study. 21
Growing Aronia Berries
Growing vegetables is a common hobby, but it seems that fewer people tend to grow fruit, especially berries. Aronia berries are actually a really easy shrub to grow and, of course, you get a lifetime supply of free berries!
Aronia shrubs (or chokeberry plant) come in several varieties – the black chokeberry, red chokeberry, and a hybrid known as the purple chokeberry. The names refer to, as you may have guessed, the color of the berries.
If you’re keen to try growing your own Aronia, the black chokeberry is the one to target.
It has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any fruit, and even more antioxidants than the red chokeberry.
A black chokeberry species known as “Viking” is readily available, and you’ll find that it’s a lot less tart. It also has a stunning display of red and orange foliage during fall.
Black chokeberry is a deciduous shrub which can grow up to 6 feet tall and spread up to 6 feet wide. Its fruit is ripe and in-season for eating during fall and winter, and it will grow in both wet and dry soils (handy if you live in California!)
How to Consume Aronia Berries
Remember the first time you tried a fresh cranberry? I’m sure you’re puckering up just thinking about it. Well, the chokeberry is as tart as the cranberry (is that where they got the name?) so you’re probably not going to enjoy them straight off the bush.
Aronia berries can be used fresh or dried (and, like cranberries, they often taste best dried) in just about any way you’d use other berries – salads, muffins, smoothies, and even tea. Freezing actually reduces their astringent flavor if you’d like to eat them fresh.
In fact, try substituting them for cranberries in some of Dr. Gundry’s recipes, such as his Cranberry-Orange muffins or Heart-Healthy Cranberry Slaw.
Some winemakers are now using Aronia berries to even make wines, as they are naturally high in flavorful tannins and can add body and color to a wine. Tannins are the antioxidant-rich polyphenols that we spoke of earlier.
How Many Aronia Berries Per Day?
ORAC (aka Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a unit of measure that tells you about the antioxidant capacity of a given food. Believe it or not, Aronia berries have higher ORAC ratings than blueberries and acai berries.
By now you know that Aronia berries get antioxidants from their polyphenol content. Aronia berries come in at a value of 16,062 on the ORAC chart. 3,000 — 5,000 ORAC units daily are recommended. About 25 Aronia berries a day would deliver about approximately 5,000 ORAC units. That’s definitely a great way to rack up Aronia berry health benefits.
A Very Fine Berry
You can call the Aronia berry whatever you want – a super berry, a superfood, or a superfruit. Just make sure the word “super” is in there, because it contains two to three times more antioxidant properties than any other berries. If there ever was a fruit on the verge of becoming a superstar, Aronia is most certainly it!
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2. Aronia Berries. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center Website.Revised October 2013.
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9.Kedzierska M, Olas B, Wachowicz B et al. An Extract from Berries of Aronia melanocarpa Modulates the Generation of Superoxide Anion Radicals in Blood Platelets from Breast Cancer Patients. Planta Medica. 2009;75(13):1405-1409. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1185718.
10.Huang W, Cai Y, Zhang Y. Natural Phenolic Compounds From Medicinal Herbs and Dietary Plants: Potential Use for Cancer Prevention. Nutrition and Cancer. 2009;62(1):1-20. doi:10.1080/01635580903191585.
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