Aronia berry health benefit, this plant is known by the botanical name Aronia arbutifolia or melanocarpa, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
January 10 2015

Aronia or chokeberries are native to eastern North America and are often found growing in swamps or damp woodlands. The hardy shrub reaches about 2-4 meters in height and withstands salt and swampy conditions. The plant produces very bitter dark purple fruit clusters that are often used in jam and wine making. Aronia berries have been an important and integral part of the native Indian diet for hundreds of years.
   Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice and anthocyanins derived from the fruits have been studied intensively, particularly in Bulgaria and eastern Europe. This plant appears to have compounds that are protective to the liver, have blood sugar stabilizing properties, anti-tumor, and have anti-inflammatory activity.

Nutritional content
Aronia contains a high concentration of flavonoids and antioxidants. Berries are full of flavonoids, trace minerals and phenolic phytochemicals, including anthocyanins, of which it contains one of the highest of any known plant (several times higher than cranberry juice). Some of these specific substances include cyanidin-3-galactoside, epicatechin, quercetin, caffeic acid, delphinidin, malvidin, petunidin, pelargonidin, and peonidin.

Health benefit
Aronia melanocarpa fruits are one of the richest plant sources of phenolic substances, mainly anthocyanins--glycosides of cyanidin. Anthocyanins are water soluble pigments accounting for the dark blue and even black color of the fruits. The main active ingredients of Aronia melanocarpa fruit are phenolic substances, mainly flavonoids from the anthocyanin subclass. Aronia may be helpful in blood sugar control and reduction of cardiovascular risk factors.

Nutr Res. 2014. Black chokeberry juice (Aronia melanocarpa) reduces incidences of urinary tract infection among nursing home residents in the long term--a pilot study.

Scientific World Journal. 2014. Effects of glucomannan-enriched, aronia juice-based supplement on cellular antioxidant enzymes and membrane lipid status in subjects with abdominal obesity. The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of a 4-week-long consumption of glucomannan-enriched, aronia juice-based supplement on anthropometric parameters, membrane fatty acid profile, and status of antioxidant enzymes in erythrocytes obtained from postmenopausal women with abdominal obesity. Twenty women aged 45-65 with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 36.1 ± 4.4 kg/m(2) and waist circumference of 104.8 ± 10.1 cm were enrolled. Participants were instructed to consume 100 mL of supplement per day as part of their regular diet. A significant increase in the content of n-3 (P < 0.05) polyunsaturated fatty acids in membrane phospholipids was observed, with a marked increase in the level of docosahexaenoic fatty acid. Accordingly, a decrease in the n-6 and n-3 fatty acids ratio was observed (P < 0.05). The observed effects were accompanied with an increase in glutathione peroxidase activity (P < 0.05). Values for BMI (P < 0.001), waist circumference (P < 0.001), and systolic blood pressure (P < 0.05) were significantly lower after the intervention. The obtained results indicate a positive impact of tested supplement on cellular oxidative damage, blood pressure, and anthropometric indices of obesity.

Combination therapy of statin with flavonoids rich extract from chokeberry fruits enhanced reduction in cardiovascular risk markers in patients after myocardial infraction (MI).
Atherosclerosis. 2007. Department of Pharmacognosy and Molecular Basis of Phythotherapy, Medical University of Warsaw, Warszawa, Poland; Center for Atherosclerosis Research, Pomeranian Medical University Szczecin, Poland.
Forty-four patients who survived myocardial infraction and have received statin therapy for at least 6 months (80% dose of 40mg/day simvastatin) were included in the study. The subjects were randomised to receive either 3x 85mg/day of chokeberry flavonoid extract (Aronia melanocarpa E) or placebo for a period of 6 weeks. The study extract was a commercially-available product of the following declared composition: anthocyans (about 25%), polymeric procyanidines (about 50%) and phenolic acids (about 9%). Compared to placebo, flavonoids significantly reduced serum 8-isoprostans and Ox-LDL levels, as well as hsCRP and MCP-1 levels. In addition, significant increase in adiponectin levels and reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure were found.

Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2007. Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology and Biochemistry, Medical University, Varna, Bulgaria.
Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice is rich in phenolic antioxidants, especially flavonoids from the anthocyanin subclass. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice on plasma glucose and lipids in diabetic rats. Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice significantly decreased the streptozotocin-induced abnormalities in blood glucose and triblycerides  in diabetic rats and might be useful in prevention and control of diabetes mellitus and diabetes-associated complications.

Chemotherapy toxicity prevention
Folia Med (Plovdiv). 2013. Protective effect of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice in a model of cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity in vitro. The protective effect of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice observed in this study is most probably due to its well appreciated antioxidant activity as oxidative stress plays a central role in the toxic effects of cisplatin.

Aronia side effects
No major aronia side effects have yet been reported.

The shrub
The Aronia plant is a deciduous shrub native to the eastern part of North America and also grows in cooler parts of Europe and Asia. The plants are usually about three to 10 feet tall. The shrub grows well in wet areas, and is a very resilient plant that will easily resist the dangers of drought, pests, disease, and pollution. Species of Aronia are differentiated by the color of their small berries, either black (Aronia melanocarpa), red (arbutifolia), or the purple hybrid (prunifolia). Due to the tannins, the berries are very astringent when raw - hence the name "chokeberry" - but when cooked they can be used in a variety of delicious ways such as wine, jam, syrup, or even candies. Aronia is also used as a natural color or flavoring for food products like yogurt or juices. The intense coloring of Aronia berries is actually a natural defense from harsh sunlight. The pigmentation develops as a "sunscreen" to protect the pulp and seeds from the sun's UV rays.

Aronia species

Q.  I am very interested is a comparison if the nutritional values and uses of acai berry compared to that of the aronia berry.
   A. There are dozens of berries that provide health benefits for human consumption. Each of them has certain substances that the other berries do not have. We prefer consuming a wide variety of berries rather than one or two types. Which is healthier to eat, an apple or an orange? They both have benefits and provide their own special nutritional value.

Q. Is there such a thing as aronia extract?
   A. Yes, I am aware of aronia extract 4 to 1 concentration, I am sure there are other extract potencies.

Q. I am an organic farmer in Iowa looking for information on Aronia melanocarpa also known as chokeberries. Is there any interest in aronia for its ORAC value? Have there been any double blind, placebo controlled trials?

NP Nutra has tested over 100 different superfruit powders over the last year, including the most popular ones from other manufacturers. NP Nutra's water soluble Aronia 4:1 extract got an ORAC score at 4738 umoleTe/g, which is more than virtually all other superfruit powders. Aronia is also known as chokeberry and has a very attractive dark purple color. It is also high in anthocyanins, antioxidants, flavonoids, phenolic acid, trace minerals and vitamin C.

Kaden Biochemicals of Germany has introduced an aronia extract (Aronia melanocarpa). The ingredient contains more than 15 per cent natural anthocyanins and has an ORAC value of  7300 µmolTE/g. Kaden also sells many other berry extracts, such as bilberry, blackcurrant, cranberry, elderberry and blackberry. Kaden Biochemicals is a wholly owned subsidiary of Symrise.

Emails received 2009 and 2011
As you know, aronia berries contain very high levels of antioxidants. Because of its nutraceutical properties, public interest in aronia is growing at a phenomenal rate. It is even being researched as a natural, organic additive to pet food.
Dr. Eldon Everhart, ISU aronia expert
Vaughn Pittz, owner of the farm

Aronia A New Crop for the Midwest
By Eldon Everhart, Horticulture Specialist, Iowa State University Extension

Why is aronia in the news?
Aronia berries contain very high levels of antioxidants. Aronia melanocarpa is a perennial, deciduous, self-supporting shrub, native to the eastern half of the United States. Its native range extends into Canada and south into Georgia, and includes only Winneshiek County in Iowa. Aronia is cold hardy to at least USDA Zone 3 (-40 F). The cold tolerant blooms open in late spring and avoid most frosts. The plants will grow on various soils from poorly drained to well-drained sites.

Where is it grown commercially?
Early in the 20th century, aronia was introduced in Eastern Europe where high quality, large fruited cultivars were selected. It is now grown on thousands of acres in Eastern Europe. The aronia berry industry is still in the early stages of development. Commercial plantations are mostly being planted in the Midwest.

Are all cultivars the same?
‘Autumn Magic’ and ‘Iraqis Beauty’ are commonly sold ornamental cultivars of Aronia melanocarpa. They were selected for their ornamental traits white flowers, shiny green leaves, orange-red fall foliage, and dark purple berries. If not harvested, the berries will hang on the bushes until songbirds eat them late winter. ‘McKenzie’ is a cultivar that was selected for use in windbreaks and conservation plantings, not for commercial berry production. It was released in 2008. ‘Viking’ and ‘Nero’ were selected in Russia for commercial fruit production. Within the last 15 years, these two cultivars were introduced back into the United States. Mature plants of ‘Viking’ are six to eight feet tall with 40 or more shoots per plant. They are the size of a common lilac bush and live just as long.

How are aronia berries harvested and used?
The round, pea-sized, violet-black berries of Aronia melanocarpa hang in clusters of up to 12 berries. Aronia berries are ready to harvest by hand or with a mechanical harvester in mid August to early September. Aronia berries can be eaten fresh off the bush or used in bread, muffins, pies, cookies and other baked goods. They can be used to make tea, smoothies, juice, and aronia wine. The fruit or fruit juice can be used to make jams, jellies, syrup, candy, salsa, barbeque sauce, and to flavor and color yogurt, sorbet, ice cream, milk, and other products.

What do they taste like?
Taste is difficult to describe and not all things taste the same to all people. Aronia berries have a distinctive, pleasant flavor. Astringency is the sensation that most people notice first. The berries will make your mouth pucker. This dry mouth feeling is caused by chemicals known as tannins. Tannins make dry wines dry. Many people like that dry, mouth puckering quality of dry wines and aronia berries. Freezing reduces the astringency and makes it easier to extract the juice. When fully ripe, aronia berries have a sugar content as high as grapes or sweet cherries. They have a high acid content (low pH) but are not sour when fully ripe.

Where to get more information?
Dr. Eldon Everhart retired from Iowa State University in 2010. He is now the president and CEO of Everhart Horticulture Consulting business. The family-owned business provides advice by phone, email, & on-site visits related to aronia berries, gardening, and herbicide drift, as well as business plan and grant writing. Dr. Everhart also serve as an expert witness in herbicide drift cases and presents PowerPoint programs and workshops face-to-face or over the Internet all over the US and beyond. Consultations and presentations are tailored for length, content, and the size and type of audience. For a partial list of educational topics & pricing, visit the website hortconsulting dot com or Aronia in America blog at  aroniainamerica dot blogspot dot com. This blog is about growing Aronia melanocarpa and cultivars of it in home gardens and commercial aronia berry farms. Topics include personal experiences and research based information and stories about antioxidant content and health benefits of the fruit, insect and disease pests, critter control, native range, habitat, soil preferences, cultural practices, environmental benefits, economic benefits, potential for growth of the commercial aronia berry production in North America, etc.

The Midwest Aronia Association is assisting their member growers in finding buyers. Currently the demand for aronia is growing and supply is relatively low. Our web address is midwestaronia dot org. Ronita Walker Marketing Chair-Midwest Aronia Association.

Foggy Ridge Farm
I am a small grower of Organic Aronia berries near Seattle WA. In your emails and research you quote Dr. Everheart from Iowa who we hired as a consultant a couple years ago to help us determine how to best grow more Aronia in Washington. My family have been using Aronia berries for 6 years now mostly by accident as I was testing various perinnials in my large garden and they made awesome jellies. Five years ago my 50 year old husband was told to get on Cholesterol lowing medication, otherwise in great health and excercises daily. I thought to give a try to reducing using our Aronia juice after reading some research from a doctor in Poland. I cold press the berry, the juice I freeze taking air out immediately and dry the skin for teas. I gave my husband a shot of the juice every morning with grape juice and then made a sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, fruit pudding to give him mid afternoon every day at work. He did not change his eating habits or exercise routine. Within two months his cholesterol dropped 50 points. Over the last 4 years we continue to drink the tea and occasional juice, not everyday anymore. His cholesterol every 6 months has remained healthy. As a side result I noticed we weren't coming down with colds or flus anymore. Any time we feel a tickle like a cold coming on I make a mixture of Aronia, Rose hip, and whatever tea I have handy, steep for 20 minutes and add 1/2 tsp of our own honey. Truthfully the two of us have not had a cold for 3 years now. I now add Aronia to my husbands coffee and my green tea in the morning. We have decided to plant more aronia berries for a retirement project. I'm making a really great tasting Liquere and we live in the wine district so that make sense but I do really like the tea and working on perhaps marketing that. My friends and neighbors are all asking when my bushes will be big enough to sell them some as well. Just thought I'd share my results. Lynn Cash, Foggy Ridge Farm.