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Everything You Need to Know About Aronia Berries

Health + Wellness
Everything You Need to Know About Aronia Berries
5PH / iStock / Getty Images

By Sharon O'Brien

Aronia berries (Aronia melanocarpa) are small, dark berries that have become popular among health-conscious consumers.


They're considered one of the richest sources of plant antioxidants, which are said to offer many health-promoting properties.

This article reviews all you need to know about aronia berries, including their nutrition, benefits, and downsides.

What Are Aronia Berries?

Aronia berries, or chokeberries, are small, dark fruits that grow on shrubs of the Rosaceae family (1Trusted Source).

They're native to North America but grown in other parts of the world, including across Europe (2Trusted Source).

Traditionally, they were used as a cold remedy by Native Americans (1Trusted Source).

The berries have a strong mouth-drying effect, so they're mainly used to make juices, purées, jams, jellies, syrups, teas, and wines (1Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

However, they're also available fresh, frozen, dried, and in powder form.

Summary

Aronia berries are small fruits that leave a dry feeling in your mouth. They're added to many foods and beverages but also available as a supplement.

Aronia Berry Nutrition

Aronia berries are low in calories but pack a nutritional punch, as they're high in fiber, vitamin C, and manganese.

Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of aronia berries provides the following nutrients (4):

  • Calories: 13
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 gram
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Manganese: 9% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 5% of the DV

The berries also supply folate, iron, and vitamins A and E.

Plus, they're an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants.

These compounds help protect your cells from potentially harmful molecules called free radicals. The fruits are particularly high in anthocyanins, which give the berries their dark blueto black color (5Trusted Source).

Summary

Aronia berries are nutrient dense with minimal calories. They're a great source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants.

Potential health benefits of aronia berries

Aronia berries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

This may protect your cells from damage and benefit your health in many ways.

Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Aronia berries pack high levels of antioxidants (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

These compounds defend your cells from damage caused by free radicals. A buildup of free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer (3Trusted Source).

Aronia berries are an excellent source of polyphenols, which is a group of antioxidants that includes phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavanols (3Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

Test-tube studies indicate that the antioxidants in aronia berries can inhibit free radical activity (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

The berries themselves also showed superior antioxidant activity, compared with five other berries (9Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

What's more, a study in 30 healthy people found that extracts from aronia berries significantly reduced oxidative stress caused by an antipsychotic medication within 24 hours (12Trusted Source).

Moreover, test-tube studies have linked the antioxidants in these fruits to other impressive health benefits, such as decreased inflammation, as well as reduced bacterial and cancer cell growth (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

May Have Anticancer Effects

Aronia berries may protect against cancer (16Trusted Source).

Test-tube and animal studies show that the anthocyanins in aronia berries may stop the growth of colon cancer cells (15Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

One test-tube study found that 50 mg of aronia extract reduced colon cancer cell growth by 60% after 24 hours. It's thought that the potent antioxidant activity of anthocyanins is responsible for this cancer-suppressing effect (15Trusted Source).

Similarly, extracts from the berries may reduce oxidative stress related to breast cancer.

In one study, these extracts reduced the number of harmful superoxide free radicals in blood samples taken from women with breast cancer (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

That said, current research is limited, and human studies are needed to evaluate the relationship between aronia berries and cancer protection.

May Benefit Heart Health

Due to its antioxidant properties, aronia berries may improve heart health (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

In particular, they may help people with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions — including high cholesterol and triglyceride levels — that increases your likelihood of heart disease and diabetes (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

One 2-month study in 38 people with metabolic syndrome observed that supplementing with 300 mg of aronia extract daily significantly decreased triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol (22Trusted Source).

A similar 2-month study in 25 people with metabolic syndrome found that taking 300 mg of aronia extract daily significantly reduced the same health markers, as well as blood pressure (23Trusted Source).

More human research is needed to identify the role that aronia berries may play in heart health.

May Provide Immune Support

Aronia berries may strengthen and support your immune system (13Trusted Source).

A test-tube study noted that aronia berry extracts exhibited strong antibacterial activity against the potentially harmful bacteria Escherichia coli and Bacillus Cereus. It exerted this effect by reducing the bacteria's production of a protective shield called biofilm (14Trusted Source).

In addition, a 3-month study in residents of 6 nursing homes found that those who drank either 5.3 or 3 ounces (156 or 89 ml) of aronia berry juice daily experienced 55% and 38% reductions in urinary tract infections, respectively (24Trusted Source).

Aronia berries may also reduce inflammation by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory substances, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-ɑ) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which may boost immune health (13Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).

Finally, the berries may have antiviral effects.

One mouse study determined that the ellagic acid and myricetin in aronia berry extract may protect against the influenza virus (26Trusted Source).

Summary

Aronia berries provide antioxidants. These compounds may have cancer-fighting properties and support your heart and immune health.

Possible Downsides

Studies indicate that aronia berries are safe to eat and have no serious adverse effects (5Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

However, long-term research is needed to verify this.

Keep in mind that aronia berries are very astringent. This can leave a dry, sandpaper-like feel in your mouth. Therefore, you may not want to eat them on their own (3Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

Instead, you could add them to foods and drinks, such as yogurt, smoothies, and juices.

Summary

Aronia berries are safe to eat with no serious side effects. The only downside is their astringent, mouth-drying effect.

How to Add Them to Your Diet

Though you may not find aronia berries in your local grocery store, they're widely available in health food stores and online.

They're often made into juice and a key ingredient in jams, purées, syrups, teas, and wines (1Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Here are some ways to add aronia berries to your diet:

  • Raw. They can be eaten fresh or dried as a snack, but their mouth-drying effects may not be for everyone.
  • Juices and smoothies. Aronia berries or their juice can be combined with other fruits, such as pineapples, apples, or strawberries, to make a refreshing drink.
  • Baking. You can easily add them to muffins, cakes, and pies.
  • Jams and desserts. Mix aronia berries with sugar to make different jams and tasty treats.
  • Tea, coffee, and wine. Aronia berries can be found as an ingredient in teas, wine, and coffee.

The berries can also be taken as a supplement in powdered or capsule form, with serving and dosing recommendations varying by brand.

A typical serving suggestion is to add one teaspoon of aronia berry powder to a juice, yogurt, or smoothie.

The capsules can be made from freeze-dried berries or extract. Therefore, serving recommendations vary considerably.

Two human studies on the heart-health effects of the berries used 300 mg of extract daily (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

However, as supplements are not regulated, it's difficult to identify a therapeutic and safe recommended dose.

Still, aronia berries have not shown any side effects, even when taken in concentrated doses (5Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

If you're interested in trying aronia berry supplements, speak with your healthcare provider before purchasing a product.

Summary

Aronia berries can easily be added to many foods and drinks. They can also be purchased as a powder or capsule supplement.

The Bottom Line

Aronia berries, or chokeberries, grow on shrubs of the Rosaceae family.

They're rich in fiber, vitamin C, and powerful antioxidants that may have heart-healthy, immune-boosting, and anticancer properties.

You can add fresh aronia berries to many recipes, try them in juices, jams, and syrups, or use them as a supplement.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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