Aronia. Specifically, and to be botanically correct: Aronia melanocarpa Nero. A shrub which looks for its equals, und enriches every diet with its fruits. Almost forgotten, the small Aronia berries are experiencing a comeback, decorating front gardens as well as entire regions.
The Aronia berry contains:
• Vitamin A, B, C, E, K
Aronia berries can be consumed in many forms, including fresh and juiced. They can also be used as an ingredient in baked goods and other recipes, for example: Aronia muffins, Aronia wine, Aronia jam, Aronia tea, Aronia juice.
No other berry contains as many anthocyanins and
OPC as the Aronia berry. Aronia protects our bodies against so-called free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, premature cell aging and numerous illnesses.
Aronia berry bushes (Aronia melanocarpa) are native to North America. Thousands of acres of Aronia are grown as a commercial berry crop in Eastern Europe, the US and Canada.
Aronia berries have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in fruits. Why is this so important? Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from the damaging effects of oxidation. And because Aronia is rich in antioxidants, it has a very high ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity - a measure of an antioxidant's power to neutralize free radicals) - almost 80 units, the highest amongst fruits.
Aronia berries help in regulating weight. In addition to that, Aronia can help prevent the body from storing fat around the abdomen, a problem which many people are constantly facing. An added benefit from having aronia berries included in your diet is that it can also improve your cholesterol and lipid levels, by helping the body to produce good cholesterol. This great health benefit is analyzed by scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Beltsville, Maryland who have conducted a study proving good effects of the super berry on control of weight and cholesterol levels.
If your diet includes Aronia berry regularly, you can be sure that colds and flu will not trouble you soon! It fights bacteria and viruses and boosts the immune system. Another Bulgarian study (Study of the natural Aronia Melanocarpa juice for anti-viral activity, Borissova et al, 1994) showed that chokeberry juice, due to its anthocyane flavonoids, had an anti-inflammatory value, when inflammation was induced by histamine & serotonin.
Aronia berries, among all other healthy benefits, provide good protection for our eyes. The super berries contain a large amount of carotene, which protects cells from damage and the eyes from cataract formation. They are also rich in flavonoid anti-oxidants such as luteins and zeaxanthins. Zeaxanthin has photo-filtering effects on UV rays and thus protects eyes from age related macular disease in the elderly (ARMD) and eye inflammation (uveitis). Researchers in Japan have been measuring the effects of aronia crude extract (ACE) on eye inflammation. The study was published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science several years ago.
Aronia berries also serve as anti-carcinogenic agent. The the effect of the black colored berries on cancer as it’s known to be rather effective especially for those suffering from colon cancer. A study conducted in 2003 showed that the berry provided a natural defense to fight against colon cancer. The article, “Darker fruits could fight cancer“, discusses the findings of researchers at Ohio State University who found that darker fruits and berries could fight cancer. The aronia berry or chokeberry is mentioned in the article, “[A]nthocyanin pigments obtained from black carrots and radishes slowed the growth of cancer cells by between 50 to 80%. But compounds from chokeberries for instance killed up to a fifth of existing cells, without impacting upon healthy ones.”
The fourth great benefit of consuming aronia berries is keeping good urinary tract health. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) happen to millions of people around the world. The main causal agent is Escherichia coli. Symptoms include frequent feeling and/or need to urinate, pain during urination, and cloudy urine. It is well known that cranberries are good in the fight against UTI, but studies show that aronia berries are five to ten times more effective, because of the higher dose of quinic acid in them, which is proven to prevent urinary infections. Additional lab studies showed that Aronia Melanocarpa is effective in reducing micro-organism growth for several bacteria including Escherichia coli, thus proving aronia berries help prevent and cure UTI and maintain good urinary tract health.
There have been a number of studies analyzing how aronia berries affect people with diabetes. One of them concluded that consumption of the “super berries” would not increase blood sugar levels and it can even lower them. Aronia can be very beneficial for people who want to prevent diabetes and it can also help people manage diabetes - associated conditions. Another study (Simeonov et al, 2002) conducted at the Medical University in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, found that aronia juice without sugar added (artificially sweetened) was “a valuable adjunct” to treating patients with diabetes. An animal modeled study in 2007 (Valcheva-Kuzmanova S et al), conducted by the Department of Preclinical Pharmacology and Biochemistry, Medical University, Varna, Bulgaria was conducted on diabetic rats. The outcome showed that the use of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice might be useful in the prevention and control of diabetes and in the complications of diabetes.
Among the top 5 benefits it brings, Aronia helps greatly in keeping blood pressure at normal levels. The dark pigmented berries have been known to prevent spasms in blood vessels, keeping the blood pressure far from the “danger zone”. The juice or tea from chokeberry is highly recommended to anyone having problems with the circulatory system and blood pressure. In a 2007 double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel trial study (Naruszervicz M et al), conducted by the Department of Pharmacognosy and Molecular Basis of Phythotherapy, Medical University of Warsaw and the Center for Atherosclerosis Research, Pomerainian Medical University Szczecin, Poland gave patients, who had experienced myocardial infracture and were being treated with statin therapy, a rich extract from the Aronia Berry. Cardiovascular risk markers were significantly reduced in those taking the Aronia melanocarpa E. They saw a reduction in blood pressure and Ox-LDL levels and more.
Aronia berries are also known to improve the circulation of blood, make blood vessels stronger and reduce the risk of heart disease. Free radicals are the true cause of various diseases in the body and aronia berries can prevent formation of these radicals thus preventing diseases such as diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. Mature aronia fruits contain a large amount of phenols, which disinfect the bloodstream and the body, promotes healing of wounds, removing toxic substances from the body, reduce inflammation, improves elasticity of blood vessels and prevent their clogging. Many studies have been done on Aronia, particularly in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. A 2002 animal-modeled study (Kowalczyk et al), conducted in the Department of harmacology of the Military Medical Academy, Lodz, Poland, tested anthocyanins from the aronia berry. The study concluded that aronia berry anthocyanins are useful in fighting “oxidative stress” in cardiovascular patients.