Aronia: The Antioxidant-Antiaging-Superfood!

The dark purple berries of aronia are considered “health berries”: they are said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties. Read more about the effect, application and possible side effects of aronia here!

What healing power is in chokeberry?

The berries of the aronia bush are said to have anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, vasodilatory, blood sugar-regulating and antioxidant effects. The term “antioxidant” describes the ability to intercept cell-damaging oxygen compounds (free radicals) in the tissue. Furthermore, aronia berries are said to help against viruses and bacteria and to protect the stomach mucous membranes.

Aronia juice also has a mild laxative effect, promotes the formation of urine and acts as a diuretic, i.e. it promotes the flushing of water out of the body. In addition, aronia can apparently lower blood pressure and the fat content in the blood. For stomach, intestinal, liver and gall bladder complaints, the tannins contained in the berries seem to help.

The aronia berry is also said to protect against cancer. Especially in connection with intestinal cancer chokeberry is said to have a preventive effect. It is also used as a food supplement for breast cancer. The medicinal plant is also often used to support regeneration after chemotherapy.

People who have too much iron in their blood (iron storage disease) could also benefit from aronia. The berries’ ingredients bind iron and promote its excretion.

In summary, the application of aronia berries includes the following areas:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • high or low blood pressure
  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • high cholesterol values
  • Common colds
  • intestinal complaints
  • diabetes mellitus
  • Eye diseases (cataract)
  • Iron storage disease

Even if some studies for the above-mentioned areas of application have found indications of a positive effect of chokeberry, the significance of the investigations is usually insufficient.

What ingredients are contained in aronia berries?

Aronia contains many vitamins and minerals. For example, a high content of folic acid, vitamin K and vitamin C strengthens the immune system and defences. The body also needs vitamin C to build up connective tissue. A sufficient supply of folic acid is especially important for pregnant women to prevent malformations in the unborn child. Beta-carotene (provitamin A) and B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6) also belong to the repertoire of the aronia berry.

In addition, the small aronia berries contain plenty of minerals and trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iodine and iron. Thus they are said to support bones, nerves, muscles, wound healing and blood formation, among other things.

The aronia berry also possesses many secondary plant substances that are considered natural antioxidants. These include the plant pigment anthocyanin, which belongs to the flavonoids and protects the plant from light. In humans, anthocyanin has an antioxidant effect, i.e. it acts as a free radical scavenger:

Free radicals are produced excessively by the body in stressful situations, unhealthy lifestyles (nicotine and alcohol) or harmful environmental influences (UV radiation, smog). Small amounts of these aggressive oxygen compounds are normal, but too much of them is harmful to health. If the repair and detoxification function of a cell is overtaxed, such an excess of free radicals occurs. This accelerates the aging process and promotes the development of diseases.

By binding the free radicals, the ingredients of aronia (especially the anthocyanins) are supposed to counteract this. The anthocyanin content of aronia is over 2000 milligrams per 100 grams of fruit. For comparison: other berries have 500 to 800 milligrams per 100 grams.

Clear evidence that the antioxidants contained in fresh fruit and vegetables actually have a therapeutic effect is, however, still missing.

How is aronia used?

Only the small berries are used medicinally, internally. Aronia is not suitable for external use.

Aronia can be dried, taken as juice, drinking ampoules or even in tablet form. Symptoms of colds are best alleviated with vinegar made from the berries. If the dried berries are crushed, they can also be used to make tea. To make tea, pour hot water over two to three teaspoons of the berries and leave to infuse for ten minutes.

The most effective dosage has not been conclusively determined. Adults are often recommended to drink 100 millilitres of juice daily or to consume 15 grams of dried berries. Children should consume about half. Due to the high content of tanning agents, chokeberry products should be taken after meals.

What side effects can aronia cause?

Very rarely do people react hypersensitively to the ingredients of aronia. The tanning agents of the berries can cause stomach aches. It is therefore better to take aronia juice or berries after meals.

People with iron deficiency should be careful, as the berries contain proanthocyanidins. These can affect blood formation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about this.

What you should bear in mind when using aronia

The blue dye of the aronia berry temporarily discolours teeth and tongue.

To soften the tart taste, you can mix the fresh aronia juice with other juices.

The fruits of the aronia medicinal plant contain – like almost all food plants – toxic prussic acid, but only in small amounts: There is about 0.6 to 1.2 milligrams of prussic acid in 100 grams of fresh berries. A daily dose of 0.7 milligrams per kilogram body weight is dangerous. For this, however, a 70 kilogram adult would have to eat four to eight kilograms of fresh aronia berries per day. The processing of the berries also reduces the prussic acid content.

Things to know about aronia

The aronia is a robust shrub plant from the rose family (Rosaceae). It has elliptical leaves that turn reddish golden in autumn. In spring the plant forms umbrella-like flower panicles of up to 20 small, white-pink flowers. They develop into pea-sized, blue-black, waxy, apple-shaped fruits reminiscent of blueberries. They can be harvested from August to October. Aronia berries have a sweet-sour-tart taste. Due to their high dye content (anthocyanins), the berries are used in the food industry for colouring food.

Their healing properties were already known to the Indians in eastern North America. In Europe, aronia has been cultivated since the beginning of the 20th century – especially in Eastern Europe, where the plant has been valued as a medicinal plant for a long time. The most commonly cultivated are the felted chokeberry or red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) and the black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa). Both are said to have a healing effect.