Native to North America, Aronia berries are a kind of berries that are extremely healthy and packed with a wide range of nutrients, including powerful antioxidants. Mostly found growing in swamps and woodlands, these berries are also known as chokeberries, because of their astringent taste. Eating these berries on a regular basis provides a considerable nutritional boost to your diet. Chokeberries can be added to breads, muffins and other baked goods or sprinkled on top of ice creams. They are also used to make wines, juices, syrups, teas, jams, and spreads. To obtain all the nutritional benefits of chokeberries, it is best to consume the whole fruit or foods such as jams and spreads that make use of the whole fruit. Aronia berries generally come in three varieties – Red, purple and black. They are usually cultivated as a food product and also as an ornamental plant.
What makes Aronia berries so healthy?
First and foremost, aronia berries are low in calories, carbohydrates and fat. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. In fact, chokeberries happen to be one of the highest sources of anthocyanin which are flavonoid antioxidants. They also contain high levels of other flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenes, luteins and zeaxanthins. The oxygen radical absorbency capacity (ORAC) is the measurement of antioxidant power of food items. It has been found that aronia berries has one of the highest values of ORAC among berries. Important vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin and folate can be found in plenty in this fruit. It also provides ample quantities of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese.
Health benefits of Aronia berries/chokeberries
Aronia berries have been gaining popularity in the recent days because of the plethora of nutrients they hold. They offer a myriad of health benefits and are an excellent addition to the diet of those who are looking to improve their health through proper nutrition. Here are some of the health benefits this fantastic fruit can offer you:
Aronia berries – storehouse of potent antioxidants
Aronia berries are often referred to as a super food owing to its very powerful antioxidant properties. They are rich in vitamin C and phenolic compounds such as proanthocyanins and anthocyanins, which possess strong antioxidant qualities. As mentioned earlier, these berries have been found to possess the highest rating of antioxidant strength among berries and also other fruits. Antioxidants play a vital role in slowing down the aging process and also in protecting your body against many serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. They are beneficial in reducing the appearance of aging signs like wrinkles and fine lines and also in protecting your skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, sun’s ultraviolet radiation and environmental pollutants.
Aronia berries and cancer cure
Regular consumption of berries is one of the best ways to lower your risk of developing cancer, because of the presence of high levels of antioxidants in them. Aronia berries can be considered as the king when it comes to antioxidant capacity. Studies indicate that the anthocyanins in aronia berries have the potential to inhibit the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. These antioxidants help in protecting the cells against damage caused by the free radicals in our body. Research suggests that aronia berries are effective in preventing certain types of cancers such as breast, bladder, colon, esophagus, lung, ovary and skin cancers. A study involving pancreatic cancer cells showed that the extract of chokeberry may be helpful in boosting the effects of chemotherapy drugs (gemcitabine) used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. This combination was found to be very effective in killing the cancer cells.
Chokeberries for digestion
Chokeberries are an excellent source of fiber that is linked to several health benefits, especially involving the health of the digestive system. The fiber that you intake is not digested, instead it passes through your digestive tract, adding bulk to your stool. This helps in promoting regular bowel movements and preventing digestive disorders like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Aronia berries have also been found to be helpful in treating stomach problems such as diarrhea and gastric ulcers. Animal studies reveal that the antioxidant properties of this fruit offer a gastro protective effect and hence it may be effective as a natural remedy for curing stomach ailments in humans.
Aronia berries as a remedy for colds
Adding a handful of aronia berries to your regular diet is a great way to get protection from flu and common colds. In addition to having a high level of immune boosting vitamin C in them, these berries also exhibit anti-viral properties. Studies have confirmed that aronia berries show bacteriostatic activity against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus along with anti-viral effects against type A influenza virus.
Aronia berries and diabetes
Aronia berries have been found to be extremely beneficial for people with diabetes. The active components in this fruit help in lowering blood sugar levels and also in improving the production of insulin by your body. Aronia berries are also helpful in managing diabetes- related health complications. According to a study published in 2002, aronia berries may help in keeping the blood sugar levels under control in people suffering from diabetes. Diabetic patients were asked to drink 200 ml of a sugar-free (artificially sweetened) chokeberry juice on a daily basis for three months. The results showed a reduction in the fasting blood glucose levels in these patients.
Aronia berries promotes the health of urinary tract
Another great benefit you can get out of consuming aronia berries regularly is a healthy urinary tract. Urinary tract infection or UTI is a common condition that affects millions of people all over the world. This condition is characterized by pain during urination, frequent need to urinate, and cloudy urine. The proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins found in aronia berries prevent the infection causing bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. This bacterial anti-adhesion effect causes the bacteria to be washed away through urine thus preventing infection of the urinary tract. According to studies, these berries are effective in inhibiting the growth of several bacteria including Escherichia coli, thus helping to prevent urinary tract infections and promote good urinary tract health. Aronia berries also contain high levels of quinic acid in them, which makes the urine slightly acidic and prevents the formation of kidney stones.
Aronia berries for healthy eyes
Aronia berries offer excellent protection to your eyes too. They contain high amount of carotene, which prevents damage to the eye cells. These berries are also a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants such as luteins and zeaxanthins that help in protecting your eyes from age related macular degeneration and cataract. They also help in improving vision and in preventing eye inflammation.
Aronia berries improve cardiovascular health
Aronia berries helps in increasing the circulation of blood and also in strengthening the blood vessels. The abundance of antioxidants in this fruit helps in neutralizing the negative effects of free radicals that often lead to cardiovascular problems. They also play an important role in lowering the risks of atherosclerosis by preventing the formation of blood clots. Studies reveal that aronia berries help in preventing heart attacks in many ways. It helps in reducing inflammation that may occur in the cell walls of the arteries. It reduces the amount of Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), which is associated with inhibiting the vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels) of the arteries, which in turn lowers the blood pressure by reducing the resistance to blood flow. Chokeberries have also been found to lower the LDL cholesterol levels, which if present in high amounts may accumulate on the walls of the arteries leading to blockage and heart problems.
Aronia berries for your brain
Aronia berries have been found to enhance brain function, especially memory. These berries help in improving memory and research indicates that they may be helpful in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. The high level of antioxidants such as anthocyanins in aronia berries has been found to improve mental concentration as well as prevent free radical damage or oxidative stress to the brain cells.
Aronia berries for weight loss
Eating aronia berries on a regular basis can help you maintain a healthy weight. The high amount of fiber in these berries keeps you feeling full and prevents you from overeating. Moreover, aronia berries are low in calories and fat, which makes them a perfect addition to a weight loss diet. This fantastic fruit has been found to help in preventing the body from storing too much fat, especially around the waist region.
Although small in size, aronia berries have exceptional nutritional value that has gained the interest of food scientists and health fanatics alike. The extremely high levels of antioxidants found in this fruit makes it one of the super fruits in the world. These antioxidants neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, and help to protect your overall health as well as prevent a whole range of health problems.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Mrigashirsha, Blogspot - Nami-nami