The aronia berry, also called the black chokeberry(Aronia melancarpa/Aronia melanocarpa), is one well-kept secret. Due in part to its powerful antioxidant properties, this fruit has a lot to offer.
Aronia berries range in pigment from red to a darker purple and even black. Although the plant that the berry grows on is native to the Americas, most people are not familiar with it.
Aronia berries are more frequently eaten in Eastern Europe. This is because the peoples of the area have traditionally used the fruit, recognizing how much it can help with heart conditions. Even Native Americans have traditionally used the fruit, but in their case, for the purpose of dying clothing or eating and drinking.
Health Benefits of Aronia Berry
So what are some benefits of consuming this fruit? This berry provides the following nutrients when consumed: anthocyanins, polyphenols, quinic acid, vitamins (C for example), minerals, and flavonols.
Some nutritional benefits are:
- Quinic Acid
The quinic acid concentration of aronia berries is actually ten times that of cranberries. Although cranberries are most often used to prevent urinary tract infections, aronia berries are more successful at it due to this aforementioned high quinic acid content.
In 2006, a study was conducted by the University of Maryland that found choke berries’ antioxidant properties may help to prevent the damage that results from colon cancer. The following is a list of problems that the aronia berry has been used to both treat and prevent:
- Diabetes: Aronia berry juice can lead to lower blood glucose concentrations after consumption.
- Inflammation: Because aronia berry is such a powerful antioxidant, it can relieve inflammation that results from oxidative stress.
- Cardiovascular Ailments: By neutralizing free radicals, cardiovascular disease is less of a risk.
- Circulatory Problems: The anthocyanins in aronia berries strengthen blood vessels while promoting healthy blood flow.
- UTI: Aronia berry’s high quinic acid content prevents UTIs in people who eat the berry regularly.
Influenza (Flu): Aronia berry has been established as having antiviral properties.
- Certain Types of Cancer: Fruits with antioxidant properties are able to slow the growth of cancer and sometimes even destroy the malignant tumors.
The fruit was commonly used by the Native Americans for the color as well as for fresh consumption. It is used in jelly making, candies, pie and cookie fillings, yogurt, sorbet and flavored milk.
The berry’s juice is extremely tart, so the natural juice is best sweetened. When sweetened it is a cross between a blueberry and a blackberry. The actual juice has a very dark purple color.
The author of The Aronia Berry Blog, mentioned that he found this statement about the berry’s bush:
“This shrub is so beautiful, easy to grow and so productive that it will become a staple in American backyards, as it has in Eastern Europe. In Europe and recently in the U.S. it is being widely used in delicious juices, soft drinks, jams and wine. It’s not an “aronia’s conclusion” that this, and the seabuckthorn, are the most productive fruiting bushes in captivity. The fruit is tart eaten fresh even when fully ripe. It is very high in Vitamin C. It is native to the U.S., but the best varieties were bred in Europe.”
The high Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) Value of the fruit is a result of the high amount of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins within it. These are the chemicals that cause the fruit to be such a dark color. They are also the chemicals responsible for aronia berry’s antioxidant properties. When you see a darker colored fruit, you can bet it is likely rich in antioxidants.
How to Eat the Fruit
The best ways to reap aronia berry benefits are to use it for jelly making, candies, yogurt, pie fillings, sorbets, and flavored milk. It’s easy to aronia berries to many different meals; all you have to do is experiment a bit. You can also buy aronia berry concentrate to add to your favorite beverages. Many of these concentrates feature natural, organic sweeteners to tone down the astringent taste and make the juice of the berry much easier to get down.