Hello! I'm Valerie Van Metre, a registered dietician working in Gregory and Tripp Counties in South Central SD. One of my favorite things about summer is the increased availability of produce. Nothing is better than a sun ripened tomato fresh off the vine, or freshly picked fruit, such as berries. Growing up I remember getting to help my daycare provider pick berries at her mom’s house. Typically we picked raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, which are the most commonly known berries in this area with the addition of blueberries. But what about the Aronia berry? Never heard of it before? Then I invite you to read on to learn more about this locally available, nutrient dense berry.
What is it?
The Aronia melanocarpa berry (also referred to as the “chokeberry”) is small, about a quarter inch in size, and dark purple or black in color. Aronia berries can be consumed fresh (eating the berries whole, as juice, in wine or jam), or dried (as a snack of dried fruit, used in baking, or powdered and used as a tea). The whole berries have been found to have the highest amount of antioxidative activity (see below), so consumption of the berries in fresh or dried form will have the maximum nutritional benefit compared to the juice form.
What is the benefit?
The Aronia berry has hit the spotlight as a nutrient superstar. The Aronia berry is very high in antioxidants, which plays a vital role in removing the oxidants, or free radicals, that negatively affect our bodies and overall health. Oxidative stress in the body can lead to the development of illness and diseases. Therefore the consumption of foods high in antioxidative properties can have a positive impact on one’s overall heath.
Comparatively, Aronia berries have 5-10 times more antioxidative properties than blueberries. Furthermore, based on United States Department of Agriculture research, Aronia berries’ antioxidant content is one of the highest of all fruits.
Why does that matter to me?
The consumption of foods high in antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk for cancer, heart disease, Diabetes, bacterial infections, neurological diseases, and inflammation in the body. Research with the Aronia berry in particular has shown benefit with circulation and blood pressure, prevention/treatment of Diabetes by assisting with blood glucose control, treatment of stomach issues such as ulcers and diarrhea, reduced risk of cancer, boosting the immune system and decreasing inflammation, and last but not least, protective effects on the eyes related to the high carotene content.
How do I get the benefit?
Considering antioxidative properties are acquired through the consumption of foods containing antioxidants and then their uptake into the blood stream, maximum benefit is found by having a consistent amount of foods high in antioxidants throughout the day to maintain the levels of antioxidants in your bloodstream. For Aronia berries in particular, human trials have determined that consuming the equivalency of 5 berries, three times per day results in the previously mentioned benefits.
I encourage you to do your body some good and experiment with these little nutrient powerhouses. There are all sorts of recipes to use the berries in fresh or dry form, and we would love to hear which recipes you like the best!
Health Benefits Aronia Berries. (2013). Retrieved from Http://aroniaberryservicesofneiowa.com/health-benefits.html
Health Benefits of Aronia Berries (Chokeberries). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/aronia-berries
Top 10 Health Benefits of Aronia Berries. (2011, Sept.16). Retrieved from http://www.aroniaberrynews.com