Aronia is also known as chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) which is an antioxidant-rich fruit that is commonly consumed in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Aronia have been used in folk medicine by Native Americans as a treatment for the common cold. This little berry is said to offer a range of health benefits related to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a destructive process linked to many chronic diseases. It occurs when DNA-damaging free radicals overwhelm the body. Aronia is thought to fight oxidative stress by providing potent antioxidants known to knock out free radicals and offer additional health benefits.
Aronia may be useful in treating conditions related to oxidative stress. Free radicals can damage your DNA which may contribute to the development of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other conditions.
In a research review published in 2010, scientists evaluated 13 studies, finding that chokeberry's mixture of procyanidins, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids "constitutes one of the most potent natural antioxidants."
Authors of a 2017 study also examined the antioxidant benefits of chokeberry. They concluded that the berries have the potential to provide both medicinal and therapeutic benefits and may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases including metabolic disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
In a small study published in 2010, researchers found that aronia berry extract may benefit people with metabolic syndrome—a cluster of health problems linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, including excess belly fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
For two months, 25 patients with metabolic syndrome took 100 mg of chokeberry extract three times daily. Study results showed that the patients experienced significant decreases in blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Another preliminary study evaluated the effects of chokeberry extract on obese mice who consumed a high-fat diet.
Researchers found that the mice treated with the extract showed decreases in body weight, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity. It is too soon to tell, however, if these benefits will occur in a human body.
Chokeberry may help keep blood sugar in check in people with diabetes, suggests a small study published in 2002. After drinking 200 ml of a sugar-free, artificially sweetened chokeberry juice daily for three months, diabetes patients showed a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels.
Chokeberry juice also appeared to reduce total cholesterol levels.
A review of studies was published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition where researchers examined evidence linking chokeberry to antidiabetic effects. The study concluded that there is evidence suggesting that the berries' antioxidants have potential in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Other preliminary studies are investigating the potential of using chokeberry extract in the treatment of hypertension and related cardiovascular conditions.
Some people also use chokeberries or chokeberry supplements to treat conditions including:
There is not enough evidence to know if chokeberry fruit or chokeberry extract can aid in the treatment of these conditions.
Aronia is found in many forms. A common favourite is to drink aronia berry juice or as a concentrated juice, where you take a small shot per day. It can be found as a powder or flour which you can use in baking, capsules even as vinegar which you can use in salads.
It has a tart taste similar to that of sour cherries.
Possible Side Effects
Experts suggest that drinking chokeberry juice or taking chokeberry extract as medicine is possibly safe for most adults. However, some people may experience side effects including constipation or diarrhea.
People with diabetes should exercise caution when using chokeberry. The fruit can lower blood sugar so it is important to watch for signs of low blood sugar and monitor your blood sugar carefully.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also exercise caution with chokeberry or chokeberry extract as there is not enough evidence to know if it is safe.
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Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !