We know that nutrition plays a huge role in our health. Incorporating foods that improve redox status and reduce inflammation with antioxidant-rich foods or healthy fats is a great way to promote your health and support daily performance.
At some point in your life you probably have heard that berries are good for you, right? Yet, not all of them are equal and have the same medicinal power. There are more studies coming out on how berries support our health from different angles. In the last decade, researchers and scientists have created berry symposiums across the world, where they discuss their clinical data on how berries can positively affect our systems from our heart, stomach, brain, metabolism, and more.
The subjects that seem to be in their biggest interests are:
- How berries can affect your vascular and cognitive systems and how this relays to Alzheimer's
- How polyphenols from berries impact the gut-brain axis
- Polyphenols from berries and cognitive function in adults
- How berries can positively impact age-related vascular dysfunction
- Berries and their polyphenols affects on endothelial function
- Berries and their affects on cardiovascular function, insulin resistance and diabetes
Berries are among the healthiest foods on the planet. However, when we think of berries, we usually think of the typical strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, the most common berries consumed in America.
Yet, there are many other kinds, even more powerful than the typical berry, including red and black currant, elderberry, bilberry, gooseberry, wild strawberry, cloudberry, and, finally chokeberry aka aronia, just to name a few.
The last one is one of my favorites. I personally have done a lot of research on aronia. I interviewed top experts around the world, who have spent their entire lives investigating and conducting clinical research around this particular berry.
Recently aronia has become very popular with consumers who care about health and want to add more nutrients to the diet. These small, dark berries are full of valuable nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin C and anthocyanins, which offer great health benefits for those who want to improve their health, daily vitality and athletic recovery through better nutrition.
How to Consume Aronia?
Fresh chokeberry fruits are commonly used, especially in Europe, in juices, jams, syrups, and wine. Dried chokeberries can be eaten as a healthy snack added to oatmeal, yogurt, or used in baked goods.
In some countries including the US, dried chokeberry fruits are used to produce antioxidant herbal tea. Dried chokeberry fruits are full of fiber - in a serving of 100 grams it provides 16.9 grams of this essential macronutrient.
Of course, one would get the most benefit from the entire fruit, but the second best option, especially if you are concerned about sugar levels, comes in the form of a standardized extract, which is usually standardized for anthocyanin levels, and has no sugar content.
I am very proud to say that, after testing 7 different aronia sources around the world (Austria, France, Canada, Poland, USA, China, and Japan), the one we selected for Resync products comes from Poland and stands out dramatically among the others. Resync aronia extract is standardized to the highest levels of anthocyanin so far on the market, and actually has been clinically tested.
In this blog I want to explain in detail how you can derive nutritional and health benefits from aronia berry and why it is considered an antioxidant powerhouse.
Aronia Is a Super Antioxidant
Chokeberry has very strong antioxidant properties. These properties, in turn, can be attributed to phenolic compounds present in aronia.
The studies of Tolić et al.  showed that the content of these compounds are positively influenced by both the average temperature and the hours of insolation from May to September. The authors reported that the average polyphenol content in the tested fruit was from 8834 to 1093mg GAE/L (GAE stands for gallic acid equivalent).
It should be emphasized that when compared to other berries such as blueberries, raspberries, black currant, strawberries, and blackberries, the black chokeberry fruit is characterized by the highest content of polyphenols [Kratchanova et al. 2008].
Chemical Composition of Chokeberry Fruit
The chokeberry fruit contains water, which in ripe fruit amounts to 74-85%, with the dry matter constituting the remaining part. Fresh chokeberry fruit contains approximately 10% carbohydrates and has organic acids (citric, malic, quinic, succinylated), the amount of which can vary from 0.7 to 1.3%. The presence of the following vitamins was also illustrated: C, B2, B6, E, PP, provitamin A [Szopa et al. 2017] and minerals: Ca, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Zn [Juranović 2017]. It should be emphasized that the fruit of this bush does not accumulate heavy metals, such as: arsenic, tin, cadmium, or lead [Wawer 2005]. That is very important to notice as that is not the case for all berries.
Bioactive Components of Chokeberry
- Procyanidins: These are the main class of polyphenol compounds found in the chokeberry fruit [Kulling et al. 2008]. These substances mainly form the sensory properties (astringent taste) not only found in fruit, but also in products made from chokeberry [Szajdek et al. 2008].
- Anthocyanins: In the chokeberry fruits, these are the second largest group of phenolic compounds. Their content in the chokeberry fruit ranges from 300mg to 630mg/100g of fruit, accounting for up to a quarter of the total polyphenol content found in chokeberry [Wawer, 2008]. Chokeberry's anthocyanin content also depends on weather conditions [Tolić et al. 2017]. The chokeberry fruit mainly contains the cyanidin glycosides: 3-O-galactoside (64,5%), 3-O-arabinoside (28,9%), 3-O-xylozide (4,2) and 3-O-glucoside (2,4%) [Sapis et al.1988].
- Phenolic acids: These are derivatives of benzoic and cinnamic acids. The chlorogenic acid (caffeic and quinic acid depside) is the main phenolic acid present in chokeberry fruit, which, together with neochlorogenic acid constitutes a significant part of the total polyphenol content [Szopa et al. 2017].
Biological Properties of Black Chokeberry Fruit
Like already mentioned above, the analysis indicates that compounds contained in chokeberry have a strong antioxidant effect. The crucial role in this respect is attributed to anthocyanins, which prevent the excessive formation of free radicals, namely superoxide radical, hydroxyl radical, nitrite or chlorine radicals [Malinowska et al. 2013; Tolić et al. 2015 ].
The studies cited earlier [Tolić et al. 2017] show that the antioxidant capacity of chokeberry as measured by total antioxidant capacity (TAC), as well as the reducing power (the reducing power was determined as the Fe3+ to Fe2+ transformations), is very high, and it also depends on weather conditions.
The work on the use of flavonoid compounds exhibiting strong antioxidant properties, conducted by various research centers, confirms the usefulness of flavonoids present in chokeberry in the treatment of free radical disease [Jurikova et al. 2017]. These compounds are attributed with various properties, including the inhibition of platelet aggregation (preventing the formation of blood clots), arterial sealing that inhibits the passage of LDL to the arterial walls, as well as antiarrhythmic effects. However, the greatest hopes are related to the well-documented antioxidant activity of flavonoids, in terms of: strong antioxidant activity, limiting the RFT production [Hwang et al. 2014; Malinowska et al. 2013; Olas et al. 2008A; ], the ability to bond toxic metal ions [Kokotkiewicz et al. 2010], protection against oxidation of antioxidant vitamins (among others, regenerating or protecting α-tocopherol) [Heidi et al. 2008].
Reducing the activity of enzymes involved in the oxidation reaction, including xanthine oxidase [Bräunlich et al. 2013],
- Inhibition of oxidation of endogenous antioxidants (e.g. glutathione), [Nikitchenko et al. 2008; Ciocoiu et al. 2013],
- Inhibition of growth and death of cancer cells [Kędzierska et al. 2013; Lala et al. 206].
In addition, recent studies on preparations rich in flavonoids have shown their contribution in counteracting some bacterial and viral infections along with strengthening of the immune system [Denev et. al. 2014 ].
Studies published in recent years [Appel et al. 2015; Goh et al. 2015; Ho et al. 2014; Qin et al. 2012; Villaño et al. 2016] confirm the immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties of compounds contained in the chokeberry fruit. The beneficial effect of chokeberry on the course of inflammatory processes is multidirectional, both in inhibiting the activity of cyclooxygenase 2 (increased expression of COX-2 is characteristic for, among others, inflammation, degenerative and cancerous lesions), as well as in inhibiting the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines [Ohgami et al. 2005; Wei et al. 2017].
I hope I have successfully presented a large body of evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of aronia berry. Please keep in mind that most red and purple fruits have a pronounced effect on endurance, sports nutrition, exercise, and daily vitality, which might be due to high antioxidant content, along with other vital constituents. Aronia, just like other selective red and purple fruits, contains significant amounts of natural anti-inflammatory agents, which will immensely help in sports nutrition, pain alleviation, and quick athletic recovery.
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