Whilst many other dark purple berries have been in the spotlight due to their high levels of antioxidants, the Aronia Berry is the real superstar of polyphenol power! It has an ORAC score more than three times that of a blueberry and has four times more anthocyanin content.
Antioxidants can reduce the risk of heart disease and damage to blood vessels by scavenging free radicals, reducing low-grade inflammation and reducing blood coagulation and clot formation.1 Aronia Berries have had several studies conducted on their capacity to boost heart health.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can increase the risk of strokes, heart disease and heart attacks. A 2013 study looked at the influence of the phenolic compounds found in Aronia on arterial stress. They found that extracts were not only useful in the prevention of heart disease, it could also function as a nutritional supplement in the management of arterial hypertension.2
Another study published in 2012 found that taking 300mg of Aronia extract daily significantly reduced high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and significantly decreased triglycerides.
The strength and effectiveness of the immune system is largely dependant on nutrition and the intake of sufficient macro and micro-nutrients. A deficiency in these important compounds can lead to suppression of the immune system and an increased risk of illness, which in turn can lead to physiological changes that can worsen one’s nutritional status and further impact the immune system.
Polyphenols (antioxidants) exhibit a range of biological activities that are hugely beneficial to the immune system. Aronia Berries have the highest known levels of polyphenols than any other known fruit. The are especially rich in oligomeric procyanidins (opc’s), compounds which were studied in a 2014 research paper published in the “International Journal of Molecular Science”. The study found that polyphenol extracts of Aronia Berries possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.3
Another study published in 2013 found that Aronia Berries demonstrated anti-viral activity against the influenza virus. They concluded that; “The results of the study suggest that Aronia is a valuable source for antiviral agents and that ellagic acid and myricetin have potential as influenza therapeutics.”4
Urinary Tract Infections
Whilst cranberries are normally the go to berry for the prevention and relief of a UTI, Aronia Berries have actually been shown to be more effective at alleviating this painful condition.
Aronia Berries are high in quinic acid – a sugar compound that is found in many plants. With five to ten times more quinic acid than cranberries, the Aronia Berry is highly effective in reducing the bacteria that can cause a UTI.
In a long-term pilot study of nursing home residents, it was found that the incidence of UTI’s was reduced by 55 percent in one group of patients. Furthermore, during the 3 month period of juice administration, a reduction in antibiotic use was observed in both of the groups in the study.5
Folklore and history
Almost forgotten to history due to the loss of Native American wisdom, the Aronia Berry was considered to be an essential part of the daily health needs of many tribes. As well as consuming the berries, they used the leaves and twigs of the plant to make a decoction that was used to ward off colds and other winter illnesses. The juice of the berries was used as dyes, war paint and for treating cuts and abrasions.
According to an ethnobotanical account from 1933, the Forest Potawatomi tribe reported that “they eat the berries from this plant, but they are entirely too bitter to suit the white man.” Among North American settlers, both the berries and the bark were used as an astringent.
Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, the renowned Russian botanist was among the first to recognise the value of Aronia Berries outside of the US. Due to its nutritional properties, ease of growing, and its extraordinary resilience, Michurin thought it would be a good candidate to survive the frigid Siberian winters. Known for his ability as a genetic tinkerer, he made some improvements before sending it. A genotype he developed was named in his honour, Aronia mitschurinii. It is still cultivated on an industrial scale near Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Aronia Berry was later used in the Soviet Space Program to enhance the diets of Russian cosmonauts.
This antioxidant rich berry may just be breaking into mainstream health circles as a trendy new superfood; however, it has long been known by Native Americans for its health and nutritional benefits.
Many tribes used Aronia Berries as an ingredient in “pemmican”, a pressed cake of pounded dried meat mixed to a paste with melted fat, used for long journeys and winter stores due to its long shelf life.
Nowadays the Aronia Berry is making a comeback as a super berry – another in a long line of deep purple, North American berries that are being recognised for their antioxidant power and high levels of nutrition.
Organic Aronia Berries
The perfect blend of sweet and tart, Aronia Berries can be eaten whole, added to muesli, a breakfast smoothie, desserts and baked goods.
Aronia Berry contains: dietary fibre, vitamins c, k and manganese. Polyphenols include phenolic acids (neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids) and flavonoids (anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavanols and flavonols), particularly cyanidin-3-galactoside and cyanidin-3-arabinoside, as well as (−)-epicatechin units.