Aronia melanocarpa is the #1 super fruit that few people know about, but should. The North American native, also known as black chokeberry or aronia berry, has been shown to be one of the most potent fruits in terms of antioxidant content. A great deal of research has been done in regards to this plant and the health benefits it provides for those who consume it. Aronia melanocarpa is considered one of the best sources of polyphenols, which have been shown in clinical trials to help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more!
Although Aronia is referred to as a berry, it is actually a pome fruit similar to the rose hip. Aronia berries are native to the United States and were known and widely consumed by Native Americans primarily in the form of pemmican, a paste of dried fruit and meat mixed with tallow – the original energy bar! They are mentioned as a sustaining food source in the journals of Lewis and Clark, however, as agricultural practices in the U.S. industrialized, the plant was unfortunately regarded as a weed and nearly eradicated. The knowledge and appreciation of Aronia were all but forgotten. Luckily, the plant was introduced to Russia in the late 1800s and subsequently cultivated throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Multiple cultivars of Aronia were developed. One of the most successful was developed in Sweden and termed Viking. Today
For those who may not be familiar with Aronia melanocarpa, here are some interesting facts:
Aronia berries contain high levels of dietary fiber (more than blueberries), vitamin C (three times that of oranges) and anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are a subgroup of flavonoids and are the pigments that confer the blue, purple, and red color to many fruits. They are particularly of interest to researchers for their ability to quell free radicals in the body and in their role as prebiotics for healthy gut bacteria.
Aronia is currently the richest known source of dietary anthocyanins. Wu et al. determined the anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin content of aronia, black currant, red currant, gooseberry, and elderberries via UPLC-MS. They used Aronia melanocarpa fruit, and found cyanidin-3-galactoside (Cy3Gal), cyanidin-3-glucoside (Cy3Glu), cyanidin-3-arabinoside (Cy3Ara), cyanidin-3-xyloside (Cy3Xy), pelargonidin-3-galactoside, pelargonidin-3-arabinoside, cyanidin + rhamnose + pentose, and one non-identified anthocyanin species. Aronia berry had 1,480 mg/100 g FW total anthocyanins, the highest concentration among the berries in the study. Cy3Gal was the predominant anthocyanin, representing 67% of total anthocyanins, followed by Cy3Ara, which represented about 27% of total anthocyanins. Only traces of pelargonidin glycosides were detected. Maata-Riihinen et al. found the anthocyanin content of aronia to be 8,421 mg/kg. The only anthocyanins that they detected were cyanidin derivatives. Aronia had the greatest total anthocyanin content of the 18 berries tested.
Aronia melanocarpa is so rich in anthocyanins, the purple fruit almost appears black. Hence the species name melanocarpa or “black body”
Aronia melanocarpa is an excellent source of vitamin C, containing about 50% of the daily value per 100 grams (25).
Research has shown that aronia can help reduce inflammation in osteoarthritis patients by inhibiting several inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-12 and tumor necrosis factor alpha.
Wu, X.; et al.Characterization of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins in some cultivars of Ribes, Aronia, and Sambucus and their antioxidant capacity J. Agric. Food Chem. 2004, 52(26), 7846–7856.