Aronia: The Berry You Need to Know About

Posted On Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Aronia: The Berry You Need to Know About

You won’t find this berry in your parfait, and you may have never even heard of it.

The berry you need to know about is from the Aronia family of shrubs, which are native to North America.

The best-known fruit of aronia are Aronia melanocarpa and Aronia prunifolia, known as black chokeberries due to their astringency. Their dark pigmentation is the result of an abundance of polyphenols that include flavonoids, anthocyanins, and proanthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants. Among berries, aronia is particularly high in these factors.(1)

Compared to elderberry, seven varieties of black and red currant, and six varieties of gooseberries, aronia has been shown in research to contain the highest total anthocyanin concentration and antioxidant capacity!(2)

Aronia & Cancer

Early investigation into the properties of aronia revealed that its flavonoids provided an anti-inflammatory effect.(3)

Interestingly, aronia's anti-inflammatory effect has been shown to be enhanced by the addition of selenium in research utilizing immune cells known as macrophages.(4)

In studies investigating the activity of aronia in human lymphocytes, inhibition of enzymes that activate promutagens has been shown.(5) In rats given the colon carcinogen azoxymethane, an anthocyanin-rich extract of aronia resulted in a reduction in aberrant crypt foci (an early change in the colon that may precede colon cancer) and colonic cell proliferation.(6)

In vitro research has found activity for aronia extract against treatment-sensitive and multidrug resistant leukemia cells.(7) In breast cancer patients, whose oxidative stress levels are increased in comparison with healthy individuals, aronia extract reduced the production of superoxide anion radicals in blood platelets, as well as in the platelets from a group of healthy individuals.(8)

Aronia Can Help Your Organs

Other research has found a reduction in experimentally induced pancreatitis among rodents that received aronia anthocyanins.(9) In rats given a liver-damaging compound, aronia natural fruit juice reduced signs of damage and inhibited the elevation of liver enzymes and malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress.(10) Aronia berries have also shown a protective effect against damage caused by alcohol intake to the gastric mucosa, which could be of value to alcoholics.(11) Similar effects have been observed for aronia in the protection against gastric damage caused by the drug indomethacin which is accompanied by oxidative stress.(12)

Aronia for Athletes

Aronia also exerted a protective effect against oxidative damage to red blood cells in a group of athletes whose blood was tested before and after consuming the juice.(13) Aronia lowered thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS, a byproduct of lipid peroxidation) in comparison with levels measured in a control group, which suggests that anthocyanins may help limit exercise-induced oxidative damage. Other research involving elite triathletes given aronia-citrus juice found reduced indicators of oxidative damage and a potential positive association with DNA repair.(14)

Aronia Combats Metabolic Syndrome

In diabetic humans, ingestion of aronia juice over a three-month period resulted in lower fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and total cholesterol.(15) In metabolic syndrome patients, two months of supplementation with aronia anthocyanins resulted in a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as red blood cell membrane cholesterol.(16)

Another study involving metabolic syndrome patients found decreased platelet aggregation and a reduction in the overall potential for clot formation after one month of supplementation with aronia extract.(17)

Additionally, in vitro research suggests that an extract of aronia can protect against increased clot formation caused by elevated homocysteine levels.(18)

Among men with high cholesterol, aronia anthocyanins increased the activities of the endogenous antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and catalase while decreasing red blood cell levels of potentially toxic lead and aluminum.(19)

In research involving coronary artery rings derived from animals, aronia extract protected against the loss of endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation following exposure to reactive oxygen species.(20)

In human aortic endothelial cells, administration of aronia extract prior to treatment with tumor necrosis factor-alpha protected against inflammation by inhibiting cell adhesion molecules, nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-KB) activation, and reactive oxygen species production.(21)

Aronia Offers Hope in Heart Disease

When tested in a double-blind trial of heart attack survivors treated with statin drugs for at least six months, aronia flavonoid extract given for six weeks was associated with a reduction in markers of inflammation and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, suggesting its use for secondary prevention of ischemic heart disease.(22) Recent experimental research which found that aronia juice retarded age-related changes in the aortic wall has led researchers to conclude that aronia "can be recommended as a prophylactic tool for healthy aging."(23)

Aronia Fights Infections

Like cranberry and blueberry juices, aronia juice has been found to have a preventive effect against urinary tract infection (UTI).(24) The finding suggests potential usefulness of aronia juice in skilled nursing homes, where UTIs require frequent administration of antibiotic drugs.

Other research suggests that aronia's ellagic acid and myricetin content may be protective against infection with influenza viruses.(25)

While much of the aronia research has been conducted in Europe, Americans are catching on. Aronia can be found in multi-berry and other supplements, and the juice can now be found on the shelves of natural food stores.


References
1. J Agric Food Chem. 1999 Oct;47(10):3954-62.
2. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec 29;52(26):7846-56.
3. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1994;20(1):25-30.
4. Fitoterapia. 2015 Sep;105:73-82.
5. Cancer Lett. 1997 Oct 28;119(1):37-46.
6. Nutr Cancer. 2006;54(1):84-93.
7. Phytother Res. 2008 May;22(5):689-94.
8. Planta Med. 2009 Oct;75(13):1405-9.
9. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2000 Jun;8(48):395-8.
10. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2004 Dec;56(3):195-201.
11. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 21;52(8):2226-9.
12. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2005 Apr;56(6):385-92.
13. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005 Feb;15(1):48-58.
14. Food Funct. 2016 Apr 20;7(4):2084-93.
15. Folia Med (Plovdiv). 2002;44(3):20-3.
16. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2007 Aug;23(134):116-9.
17. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Aug;51(5):549-56.
18. Nutrition. 2012 Jul;28(7-8):793-8.
19. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2005 Nov;19(113):651-3.
20. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Apr;100(4):1164-70.
21. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Aug;51(5):563-72.
22. Atherosclerosis. 2007 Oct;194(2):e179-84.
23. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:717439.
24. Nutr Res. 2014 Jun;34(6):518-25.
25. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Oct 11;440(1):14-9.

Michael A. Smith, MD

Michael A. Smith, M.D. is committed to providing the most current health information available. Dr. Mike's ability to present complex medical topics in a clear manner has attracted a sizable following of anti-aging and disease-prevention enthusiasts who have dubbed him "the country doctor with a city education."

A graduate of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, TX, Dr. Mike is the online personality for Life Extension®, the world's leading organization dedicated to extending the healthy human life span. An author, blogger, lecturer and national media personality, he has created and conducted numerous health‑related webinars as well as scripted and hosted a variety of informative online videos.

"I was taught that learning is the beginning of health," said Dr. Smith. "And, learning something new is what my show is all about. My job is to focus on the general public and engage them in the conversation, while helping them apply what they learn in their daily lives."

Website: www.LEF.org/HealthyTalk

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