Everything You Need to Know About Aronia Berries
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).
However, they're also available fresh, frozen, dried, and in powder form.
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).
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
This may protect your cells from damage and benefit your health in many ways.
Contain Powerful Antioxidants
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).
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
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.
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
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).
Aronia berries provide antioxidants. These compounds may have cancer-fighting properties and support your heart and immune health.
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.
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.
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.
However, as supplements are not regulated, it's difficult to identify a therapeutic and safe recommended dose.
If you're interested in trying aronia berry supplements, speak with your healthcare provider before purchasing a product.
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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Manuela Callari
It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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