What are aronia berries?
Aronia berries, or chokeberries, are small, dark fruits that grow on shrubs of the Rosaceae family.
They’re native to North America but grown in other parts of the world, including across Europe.
Traditionally, Native Americans used them as a cold remedy.
The berries have a strong mouth-drying effect, so they’re mainly used to make juices, purées, jams, jellies, syrups, teas, and wines.
However, they’re also available fresh, frozen, dried, and in powder form.
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:
The berries also supply folate, iron, and vitamins A and E.
Plus, they’re an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants, which help protect your cells from potentially harmful molecules called free radicals. Aronia berries are particularly high in anthocyanins, which give the berries their dark blue to black color.
Potential health benefits of aronia berries
Aronia berries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
This may protect your cells from damage and benefit your health in many ways.
Contain powerful antioxidants
Aronia berries pack high levels of 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.
Aronia berries are an excellent source of polyphenols, which is a group of antioxidants that includes phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavanols.
Test-tube studies indicate that the antioxidants in aronia berries can inhibit free radical activity.
The berries themselves also showed superior antioxidant activity, compared with four other berries.
What’s more, another test-tube study that collected blood samples from 30 healthy people found that extracts from aronia berries significantly reduced oxidative stress caused by an antipsychotic medication within 24 hours.
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 colon cancer cell growth.
May have anticancer effects
Aronia berries may protect against cancer.
Test-tube and animal studies show that the anthocyanins in aronia berries may stop the growth of colon cancer cells.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition, a 3-month study in residents of 6 nursing homes found that those who drank either 3 or 5.3 ounces (89 or 156 mL) of aronia berry juice daily experienced 38% and 55% reductions in urinary tract infections, respectively.
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.
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.
Studies indicate that aronia berries are safe to eat and have no serious adverse effects.
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.
Instead, you could add them to foods and drinks, such as yogurt, smoothies, and juices.
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 are a key ingredient in jams, purées, syrups, teas, and wines.
Here are some ways to add aronia berries to your diet:
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.
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.
If you’re interested in trying aronia berry supplements, speak with your healthcare professional before purchasing a product.