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    Aronia Melanocarpa

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    Overview

    The Aronia Melanocarpa (Black Chokeberry), commonly called wild gooseberry, or dogberry belongs to Rosaceae plant family and is native to eastern North America. Although chokeberries originate from North America, they are extensively cultivated in Denmark, Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey.

    There are two species which are the red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) and black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa). A third species is the purple chokeberry which is a hybrid of the two. The plant grows 2 – 3 meters tall. White flowers appear in spring, producing deep purple, almost black berries that are harvested from August through September.

    Fruit

    The raw Aronia fruits are inedible, owing to their astringent taste, but they are used in the food processing industry to produce a wide range of edible products, including wines and spirits, mixed juices, jams, sauces, soft spreads, syrups, fillings for confectionery and bakery products, flavorings for yogurt, cream desserts and teas. Aronia juice is considered to be healthful and has piquant taste. Berries are rich in pectin and can be added to pectin-deficient fruits to produce mixtures that jell readily.

    Superfruit

    Recently, Aronia has been added to the group of superfruits which include wild blueberries, cranberry, wolfberry, chokeberry, acai, noni, mango, pomegranate, Indian gooseberry, mangosteen, sea-buckthorn, and red grapes.

    The cultivation of Aronia is becoming more popular because components of the plant contain several useful bioactive compounds including anthocyanins. The Aronia plant is known to be one of the richest natural sources of polyphenols such as hydroxycinnamic acid, flavanols, and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins make up to 1% of the dry weight of the berries which act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects.5

    Cancer Research

    Cancer research on anthocyanins where black chokeberry preparations were used to inhibit esophagus and colon cancer in rats up to 80% both at the initial and progression stages of tumor development.2 Chokeberries also contain eye-protective phytochemicals such as carotenes, luteins and zeaxanthines.

    In addition, chokeberries are rich in vitamins C, A, and E, as well as important minerals potassium, iron and manganese. In type 2 diabetes mellitus a chronic exposure of pancreatic cells to high glucose levels leads to their irreversible failure causing glucose toxicity. Some of the studies investigating the use of Aronia berry extract prove its potential antidiabetic effect.4

    Aronia extract has been proved effective against different types of influenza viruses, including an oseltamivir-resistant strain. These anti-influenza properties of Aronia were attributed to two constituents, ellagic acid and myricetin. Aronia, ellagic acid, and myricetin protected mice against lethal challenge.

    Based on these results, it was suggested that Aronia is a valuable source for antiviral agents and that ellagic acid and myricetin have potential as influenza therapeutics.6 Because of these health-promoting properties, Aronia anthocyanins have impressive economic potential as a food additive.

    Video Credits: Gardenvideo.com
    Image Credits: Sten Porse

    References:

    1. Ernest Small – North American Cornucopia: Top 100 Indigenous Food Plants
    2. Publish This – Super Fruits and Nuts
    3. Nirmal Sinha, Jiwan Sidhu, Jozsef Barta, James Wu, M.Pilar Cano – Handbook of Fruits and Fruit Processing
    4. Rugină et al. – Chokeberry Anthocyanin Extract as Pancreatic β-Cell Protectors in Two Models of Induced Oxidative Stress
    5. Thi et al. Bioactive Compound Contents and Antioxidant Activity in Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa) Leaves Collected at Different Growth Stages
    6. Park et al. – Aronia Melanocarpa And Its Components Demonstrate Antiviral Activity Against Influenza Viruses

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