The Local Alternative to Acai Berries: Aronia Berries

Nature’s best superfood is ready to replace Acai berries.

Aronia berries (Aronia melanocarpa) are a new superfood that has made its way onto the superfood list thanks to their excellent health benefits.

Aronia berries have been studied in detail and have demonstrated that they are multifaceted antioxidants. ORAC, Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is one straightforward method of determining a food item’s antioxidant capability. Proanthocyanidins can directly protect against cardiovascular disease, as measured by ORAC values. Aronia, for instance, has 58 percent higher antioxidant levels than blueberries. Aronia berries have one of the highest reported concentrations of PAs of any food.

North America can produce Aronia berries, which is an impressive aspect of the health benefits they provide. They are native species that range from Nova Scotia to Florida and are also known as chokeberries.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes black chokeberry also called Aronia Berry, shrubs as a member of the Rose family growing between 3 and 6 feet high. Having fine-toothed leaves with a midrib that is raised and hairless, the leaves have a rich green color during the growing season and turn a beautiful red in the fall. The flowers are bisexual, white, and grow in clusters up to 2 inches across spring. Bees can serve as primary pollinators, however, the flowers are apomictic. Aronia loves full sun but is shade tolerant, drought resistant and can grow in most soil types. The plant is hardy to zone 3 and favored by wildlife.

Fresh Aronia berries can be too astringent for some. The mouth puckering feel of raw berries is due to their tannins and incredible levels of polyphenols. Tannins are compounds that protect plants from bacteria and fungi. The Aronia berry has the highest known concentration of polyphenol antioxidants of any fruit or vegetable.

The berries make a potent dietary supplement and can be found in many forms such as raw juice powder, herbal extract beverage and capsules which contain higher levels than blueberries, acai berries, mangosteen, pomegranate or goji berries to name a few of the current “super-fruits”. Bitter is better! – at least from a health standpoint and Aronia is uniquely bitter and astringent. This is due to the higher tannin content and lower sugar content than other commonly consumed fruits.

An unbiased catalog of Aronia polyphenols as they compare to other berries can be obtained from the published  USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods.  Of note, a direct comparison of Aronia (Chokeberry) and Acai in the same raw form yields a total anthocyanin amount for Aronia of 349.79 mg/100g vs 53.64 mg/100g for Acai, a nearly 7:1 difference.

The quantity and diversity of polyphenols found in Aronia berry rank it as the #1 super fruit currently known. This is verified with data from multiple independent research studies, the comprehensive Phenol – Explorer directory and the USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods.

The take-home message here is – move over acai berry, Aronia berry is the new healthy and powerful superfruit. Packed with antioxidants and health benefits, Aronia is a fantastic find that should be sought out by consumers everywhere.

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