What are aronia berries?
Aronia berries (Aronia melanocarpa), or chokeberries, are small, dark fruits that grow on shrubs of the Rosaceae family. They’re native to North America but grown in other parts of the world. Traditionally, the North American Forest Potawatomi tribe used them as a cold remedy. They called these fruits “nîki’mînûn” and used them to make a traditional tea. The reason why Aronia berry was found to be so effective in treating common cold symptoms is probably linked to their extremely powerful antioxidant capacity.
The berries also supply folate, iron, and vitamins A and E. Plus, they’re an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants, which help protect your cells from potentially harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are a natural anti-aging promotor, and are believed to protect against cancer and heart disease. They help protect your skin from harsh outside factors such as pollution, smoke and UV radiation, which can all contribute to wrinkles and aged skin. From the inside of your body, to the appearance of your skin, fruits with high levels of antioxidants are incredibly beneficial. Aronia berries are particularly high in anthocyanins, which give the berries their dark blue to black colour.
Potential health benefits of aronia berries
Aronia berries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The berries showed a superior antioxidant activity, compared with four other berries. Antioxidants defend your cells from damage caused by free radicals. A build-up of free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. Aronia berries are also an excellent source of polyphenols, which is a group of antioxidants that includes phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavanols. Studies have found that extracts from aronia berries significantly reduced oxidative stress caused by an antipsychotic medication within 24 hours. Other studies have linked the antioxidants in these fruits to other impressive health benefits, such as decreased inflammation, as well as reduced bacterial and colon cancer cell growth .
Aronia berries may protect against cancer. Test-tube and animal studies show that the anthocyanins in aronia berries may stop the growth of colon cancer cells. A 2004 study looked at the effects of grape, aronia, and bilberry extracts in preventing the growth of colon cancer. The study found that while all the extracts inhibited the growth of the cancer cells, aronia had the strongest effect. Another study found that 50 mg of aronia extract reduced colon cancer cell growth by 60% after 24 hours. It’s thought that the potent antioxidant activity of anthocyanins is responsible for this cancer-suppressing effect
Similarly, extracts from the berries may reduce oxidative stress related to breast cancer. A 2009 study found that an aronia extract helped to reduce cell damage in relation to breast cancer. The study’s authors concluded that the aronia extract had been shown to have protective qualities in people experiencing breast cancer. In another study, these extracts reduced the number of harmful superoxide free radicals in blood samples taken from women with breast cancer.
Due to its antioxidant properties, aronia berries may improve heart health. In particular, they may help people with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions — including high cholesterol and triglyceride levels — that increases your likelihood of heart disease and diabetes.
One 2-month study with metabolic syndrome observed that supplementing with 300 mg of aronia extract daily significantly decreased triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol. A similar 2-month study in people with metabolic syndrome found that taking 300 mg of aronia extract daily significantly reduced the same health markers, as well as blood pressure.
A 2015 study found that aronia could protect against coronary artery disease. Aronia was thought to protect against the plaque that develops inside the arteries. Both the aronia and bilberry extracts helped to relax the tissue, which would allow for improved blood flow. This is important, as many cardiovascular diseases result in a hardening of the arteries and reduced ability for the blood vessels to relax. This can also mean that the blood pressure drops.
A 2016 study looked at the effects of aronia fruit juice in rats with liver damage. Researchers found that the juice reduced the severity and symptoms of the liver damage. A similar 2017 study also found aronia juice to have protective effects against liver damage in rats. The study’s authors suggested the effect might be due to the antioxidant activity of the aronia.
Another rodent study from 2017 found that aronia juice helped to reduce the severity of symptoms in rats with damaged stomach linings. The study suggested that, in this case, the benefits of the aronia might be due to it boosting mucus production, as well as its ability to combat oxidative stress.
Research seems to support the anti-diabetic effects of aronia. A 2015 study in rats found that an aronia extract helped to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation related to diabetes.
A 2012 study, looking at insulin-resistant rats, found that an aronia extract fought insulin resistance on several levels. This result potentially makes it an effective aid in preventing diabetes from developing. A 2016 study found that blood glucose levels and obesity were positively affected by aronia.
Aronia berries may strengthen and support your immune system. A test-tube study noted that aronia berry extracts exhibited strong antibacterial activity against the potentially harmful bacteria Escherichia coli and Bacillus cereus. It exerted this effect by reducing the bacteria’s production of a protective shield called biofilm. In addition, a 3-month study in residents of 6 nursing homes found that those who drank either 89 or 156 mL of aronia berry juice daily experienced 38% and 55% reductions in urinary tract infections, respectively.
Aronia berries may also reduce inflammation by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory substances, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-ɑ) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which may boost immune health. Finally, the berries may have antiviral effects. One mouse study determined that the ellagic acid and myricetin in aronia berry extract may protect against the influenza virus.