Superfruit: Health Benefits of Aronia Berry
Aronia Berry, Aronia Melanocarpa
Aronia Berry is slowly emerging as the new superfruit. Cranberry, Goji berry, blueberry, concord grape, pomegranate, strawberry have long hogged the limelight. As new researches emerge, aronia berry has been collecting enough health accolades to push it to the top of the list. Aronia berry is a native of North America and has long been used by Native Americans in medicine, food and as a dye for cloth. Eastern Europe has a long history of aronia berry use too. Since gaining a foothold in the superfruit world, aronia berry fame is spreading fast. In 2008, Marks and Spencer, a large British retail chain, began selling aronia related products after its six-year plan to cultivate aronia berries in Scotland came to fruition. In Missouri Valley, Iowa, an annual aronia berry festival featuring everything aronia from herbal concoction to aronia beer is fast gaining popularity.
What is Aronia Berry?
Aronia Berries are easy to grow in Northern America, or anywhere where the temperature is cooler. You can easily grow them in your backyard—not only do they serve ornamental purposes, their fruits are nutritional gems. Just make sure it’s the black variety, specifically, Aronia Melanocarpa. It bears small (about 4 to 9 millimeters) blackberries. They appear in the fall and ripen at the beginning of the winter season. The berries are very tart and may induce some wincing or “choking,” hence the other name, “chokeberries”
It is quite possible, though not quite enjoyable to eat tart aronia berries on its own. However, no one is letting that stop them. Aronia berries may be used in jams, juices, sauces, syrup, salsa and tea fusion, amongst others. You can find fresh aconia berries at the farmer’s markets across the northern continents around the Christmas season.
Aronia products from wine to baked goods.
What Makes Aronia Berry Special?
In terms of antioxidants, aronia Berry is the toast of the berry crowd. It has three times the antioxidant content of blueberries and about five times that of cranberries. The black pigment of aconia berries is due to the presence of a powerful group of antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Although its anthocyanin content is impressive, it also contains a variety of nutrients and vitamins that are worth mentioning: vitamin B2, B6, C, sorbitol (main sugar and it intensifies when mixed with other juices), phenolic acids, tannins, catechins and other flavonoids including quercetin, rutin, hesperidin and procyanidin.
Aronia Berry has the most antioxidants.
Antioxidant Properties of Anthocyanins
If you’re wondering what is the difference between flavonoids and anthocyanins—here’s a simplified explanation. Flavonoids form the largest class of antioxidants with over 5,000 identifiable flavonoids. Within the flavonoids, anthocyanins have the strongest antioxidizing power. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, anthocyanins exert anti-cancer and antioxidant effects and protect the aging brain.
Because antioxidants are able to protect against oxidative damage to cells and boost the body’s immune system, they help to prevent various types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and various age-related health problems and inflammation.
Can't get fresh Aronia berries?
In various studies, aronia berries have shown positive results in dealing with these health problems. Not all studies are conclusive at this point but the results are encouraging:
- Fight cardiovascular diseases.
High cholesterol can result in clogged arteries, increasing the risks for cardiovascular diseases. Studies using various berries increasing aronia berries indicated an improvement in LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation. By that token, aronia berries and various types of berries are highly beneficial for heart health.
- Reduce inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is detrimental to health as it causes tissue destruction that can give rise to a number of diseases including asthma, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Aronia berries have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Fights various forms of cancer.
Oxidative damage to cells can give rise to various types of cancer. According to Dr. Iwona Wawer, a renowned researcher of aronia berries, the flavonoids found in aconia berries act as detoxifying agents neutralizing the damaging effects of oxidizing substances.
Other health benefits include:
- Treats gastric muscosal disorders
- Improves urinary tract health, even better than cranberry juice for urinary tract infection.
- Reduces glucose levels in subjects suffering from diabetes mellitus
- Stimulates circulation
- May be an effective natural treatment for stomach problems including ulcers.
How Can You Include Aconia Berries in Your Diet?
If you don’t happen to already have a couple of plants growing in the backyard, you can always look for fresh ones at the Farmer’s market. You have better luck if you live in the northern part of America. Fresh berries can be a happy and healthy addition to salads, pancakes, to desserts and cereals. Add them to ice-cream, yogurt or sorbet for a burst of color and a dose of health benefits. You can also juice them or add them to smoothies. If you find pure aronia berry juice too tart on its own, blend it with other fruits.
You can also buy frozen aronia berries, berry chews, aronia berry tea blends, sauces or wine. Aronia products may be purchased at specialty stores or online.