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What is the aronia berry?

The aronia berry, also called the black chokeberry(Aronia melancarpa/Aronia melanocarpa), is one well-kept secret. Due in part to its powerful antioxidant properties, this fruit has a lot to offer. Aronia berries range in pigment from red to a darker purple and even black. Although the plant that the berry grows on is native to the Americas, most people are not familiar with it. Aronia berries are more frequently eaten in Eastern Europe. This is because the peoples of the area have traditionally used the fruit, recognizing how much it can help with heart conditions. Even Native Americans have traditionally used the fruit, but in their case, for the purpose of dying clothing or eating and drinking.

Aronia Berries 960px-Chokeberries

By Mrigashirsha – Flickr: Chokeberries, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29926262

How Does Aronia Berry Taste Like?

Tasting aronia berries is a thrilling experience in itself, since these berries offer a complex range of sensations and taste. All berries have a unique taste that’s pretty difficult to describe. However aronia berries have an even more distinctive taste to them that sets them apart as either pleasant or stringent, depending on the taster’s taste buds.

The taste will always be influenced by the person’s gender, age and cultural background. It’s very possible that younger people, for example, may feel the aronia berry is a bit too stringent. To this end, the connection between age and how taste is perceived is typically built on an evolutionary motivation. Younger people usually tend to dismiss bitter or stringent tastes, as an automatic response of their bodies wanting to protect them from danger.

If the aronia berry you taste is not yet ripe, you’ll notice a puckering sensation in your mouth, a sort of dry mouth feeling. This is caused by a compound you’ll find in the aronia berry, giving it this astringency – it’s called tannin. It’s precisely because of this reason that some wine producers will add aronia berries to their grapes, in order to create drier, more full-bodied wines.

In order to reduce the astringency of the aronia berries, you can just as well freeze them, which will reduce some of that taste intensity. However it’s a totally different game when you taste an aronia berry that’s fully ripe. At that point in its development, this berry will have a pretty high sugar content that’s comparable to that of grapes or sweet cherries. In the end, it’s best to have this tasting experience all by yourself and decide if the aronia berry is for you and how you can consume it. Everyone is different in this regard, so deciding the taste of an aronia berry by browsing internet reviews can only go so far.

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How Can You Recognize the Aronia Berry Plant?

Aronia Berry Plant

By Michael Jeltsch – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51301490

The bushes these berries grow on can reach up to 2 or 3 m in height and will often be used as hedges. These bushes will have an attractive white aspect throughout May, a very alluring green during the summer and a fiery red look in the autumn.

The aronia berry plant will adapt to a variety of soils and is forgiving of growing conditions. It flourishes under the sun and it is mildly tolerant of the shade. This aronia berry plant is very resistant to pests, so you can trust it will find its own way to mature and bear fruit without intense maintenance, making it a good plant to grow at home, as well.

The berries will mostly be dark purple-colored when ripe and measure between 0.5 – 1.2 cm in diameter. However you can also find red aronia berries, the Aronia arbutifolia ones, otherwise known as red chokeberries.

Aronia Berries by Lakeladyjeanne

Health Benefits of Aronia Berry

Health Benefits of Aronia Berry Red Choke-Berries-IMG_2431_051013_121714

By No machine-readable author provided. Abrahami assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1065889

So what are some benefits of consuming this fruit? This berry provides the following nutrients when consumed: anthocyanins, polyphenols, quinic acid, vitamins (C for example), minerals, and flavonols.

Some nutritional benefits are:

  • Polyphenols
  • Anthocyanins
  • Quinic Acid
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Flavonols

The quinic acid concentration of aronia berries is actually ten times that of cranberries. Although cranberries are most often used to prevent urinary tract infections, aronia berries are more successful at it due to this aforementioned high quinic acid content. In 2006, a study was conducted by the University of Maryland that found choke berries’ antioxidant properties may help to prevent the damage that results from colon cancer.

 

Not only this, but since antioxidants fight the free radicals in the body that support the natural cell aging process, it’s safe to say that the aronia berry’s antioxidants are also a good aid in maintaining a healthy and sturdy immune system. By tending after your immune system and ensuring it’s healthy, you already offer your body the ability to stave off various troubling health conditions.

The following is a list of problems that the aronia berry has been used to both treat and prevent:

  • Bacterial infections: Due to their high antioxidant content, aronia berries will also be a trusting ally in your fight against bacterial infections and viral activity in the body.
  • Diabetes: Aronia berry juice can lead to lower blood glucose concentrations after consumption.
  • Inflammation: Because aronia berry is such a powerful antioxidant, it can relieve inflammation that results from oxidative stress.
  • Cardiovascular Ailments: By neutralizing free radicals, cardiovascular disease is less of a risk.
  • Circulatory Problems: The anthocyanins in aronia berries strengthen blood vessels while promoting healthy blood flow.
  • UTI: Aronia berry’s high quinic acid content prevents UTIs in people who eat the berry regularly.
  • Influenza (Flu): Aronia berry has been established as having antiviral properties.
  • Certain Types of Cancer: Fruits with antioxidant properties are able to slow the growth of cancer and sometimes even destroy the malignant tumors.
  • Cholesterol Levels: A study conducted on rats showed the ingestion of chokeberries also had some cholesterol-lowering effect.Studies also show that aronia berries can help protect with liver damage. These wonderful fruits have beneficial effects on liver fibrosis, which in turn decrease the liver cancer diseases and insulin resistance.
Aronia Berries by Lakeladyjeanne

Aronia Berries by Lakeladyjeanne http://www.flickr.com/photos/8526893@N06/

The fruit was commonly used by the Native Americans for the color as well as for fresh consumption. It is used in jelly making, candies, pie and cookie fillings, yogurt, sorbet and flavored milk.

The berry’s juice is extremely tart, so the natural juice is best sweetened. When sweetened it is a cross between a blueberry and a blackberry. The actual juice has a very dark purple color.

The author of The Aroantioxidant-fruits.coma Berry Blog, mentioned that he found this statement about the berry’s bush:

“This shrub is so beautiful, easy to grow and so productive that it will become a staple in American backyards, as it has in Eastern Europe. In Europe and recently in the U.S. it is being widely used in delicious juices, soft drinks, jams and wine. It’s not an “aronia’s conclusion” that this, and the seabuckthorn, are the most productive fruiting bushes in captivity. The fruit is tart eaten fresh even when fully ripe. It is very high in Vitamin C. It is native to the U.S., but the best varieties were bred in Europe.”

The high Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) Value of the fruit is a result of the high amount of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins within it. It has been shown that fruits with a high proanthocyanidin content also inhibit enzymes that help break down collagen, which means that aronia berries may also be a good aid in your daily beautifying rituals. Science also indicates that proanthocyanidins may reduce allergy production. These are the chemicals that cause the fruit to be such a dark color. They are also the chemicals responsible for aronia berry’s antioxidant properties. When you see a darker colored fruit, you can bet it is likely rich in antioxidants.

ORAC Chart

All in all, it’s important to know what the average nutritional value is per ounce (28 grams) of fruit: 2 grams of proteins, 2 grams of fiber, 10% of the Daily Value of Vitamin C, 9% of the Daily Value of Manganese and 5% of the Daily Value of Vitamin K. The berries also pack in iron, folate, vitamins E and A.

Thanks to all these health benefits described above, the aronia berry has rightly been classified as a superfruit, together with other berries that help prevent and fight certain health conditions.

How to Eat the Fruit

The best ways to reap aronia berry benefits are to use it for jelly making, candies, yogurt, pie fillings, sorbets, and flavored milk. It’s easy to use aronia berries in many different meals; all you have to do is experiment a bit. You can find where to buy aronia berries online thanks to websites like Amazon.com, where they have deals on aronia berry concentrate to add to your favorite beverages. Many of these concentrates feature natural, organic sweeteners to tone down the astringent taste and make the juice of the berry much easier to get down.

Having said this, you can use aronia berries in a variety of ways and you can easily incorporate them in your daily nutrition plans in view of a healthier body and immune system.

Depending on how you feel about their taste, you can start by consuming aronia berries raw, just like you would any other fruit. Additionally, you can alternate by eating them dry, as a healthy snack. You can introduce them in your homemade muesli, together with other berries and fruits.

If you like baking and experimenting in this department, you can rejoice. Aronia berries are a quick and delicious addition to any cake, pie or muffin. The quantity you use depends on you and you have the possibility to fine tune the taste you’d like to feel when the baked good is done and savory.

Aronia berries are also a great addition to smoothies and juices. Prepare a smoothie just like you would normally and add sweeter fruits to balance out the taste – use pineapples, bananas and strawberries to begin with.

Similarly, you can mix aronia berries with sugar if you want to make delicious desserts and jams. Ultimately, aronia berries may pass as less obvious ingredients in some types of coffee, wine and tea.

Lastly, we already talked about the multiple amazing health benefits of the aronia berry. This is why it’s also a good idea to consume aronia berries as a powdered supplement that you can add to your drinks, smoothies and yogurt.

Aronia berries, or chokeberries, are one of nature’s miracle fruits that are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and a myriad of other properties that make them great aids in preventing and fighting diseases. They are versatile and easy to consume, either raw, freezed, dry or in powdered form, as part of your nutritional habits, such as milkshakes, desserts and drinks. This versatility allows you to enjoy aronia berries all year long, regardless where you are – they have become popular enough to be ordered online and delivered anywhere in any shape or form.

Where to Buy Aronia Berries

Learn more about the Berry and its benefits, uses and availability:

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