Aronia is a deciduous shrub of the Rosaceae family that is native to Eastern North America. The fruit from Aronia, also known as Chokeberries, is small (about the size of a raisin) and grows in clusters. It is highly astringent, which means its tart like the tartest plum and dry like the driest wine. Chokeberry shrubs produce red, purple or most common and most nutritious black edible fruit. The plant is likely found in lowland wet wooded areas and can grow as high as 2.5 meters.
Chokeberry plants are a beautiful addition to any landscaping. They produce small showy flowers in spring and fiery leaves in fall. The Aronia plant will handle just about anything thrown at it including wet swampy ground, dry sandy soil, drought, salt, full sun, part shade, acidic soil, and is insect and deer resistant; although deer and birds may nibble on the fruit.
Native American cultures used Chokeberries extensively in their diet and natural medicine. The dark rich pigment of the berry was used in dyes and paints as well. Native Americans shared their knowledge of Aronia with the first Europeans. Overtime though the use of this amazing plant dwindled here on this continent only to resurface in Eastern Europe and Russia where it is used extensively in their diet and natural remedies. In fact, Eastern European athletes use Aronia regularly to enhance performance and recovery. Now the use of Aronia is rapidly coming back to this continent and the land of its’ origin. With this new found enthusiasm and interest is new research and testing on Aronia, and the results and health benefits are eye opening. Aronia is packed with a host of beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential oils and flavonoids. All of this adds up to the fruit of Aronia being rich in antioxidants. So rich are the antioxidant qualities that Aronia is among the highest ever tested for any plant. Even more so than the acclaimed Acai, Blueberry, Cranberry, Elderberry and Pomegranite just to name a few.
The two most notable phyto-chemical antioxidants in Aronia are Proanthocyanidins and Anthocyanins. Proanthocyanidins are known to effectively reduce histamine production which can be helpful in the case of any type of allergy. They also act as an internal sunscreen protecting the body from the Ultra Violet rays in sunlight. Proanthocyanidins inhibit the break down of collagen thus helping to protect joints, connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons, the cornea of the eyes and skin tissue. Anthocyanins are known to effectively reduce all types of inflammation. This can be very helpful with conditions such as arthritis, trauma to the body such as fractures, and joint problems. Anthocyanins, along with Aronias low glycemic profile, are helpful in reducing glucose levels in those with diabetes. Anthocyanins are antibacterial and antiviral as they inhibit their replication. As with all antioxidants, Proanthocyanidins and Anthocyanins are capable of reducing the harmful oxidative process produced by free radicals. This in-turn means that not only will they improve ones immune system and overall health, they are highly effective at treating serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as naturally slowing the aging process.
There are so many claims out there for this and that product and this and that cure. So much of the time products are overrated or they are marketed beyond their real health benefit. When it comes to Aronia the evidence is everywhere, all one has to do is look. Given that Aronia has not been splashed around in every infomercials, magazine and TV ad, well not yet anyway, it is one of natures best kept secrets. The most common ways of getting Aronia into the diet are either as frozen berries, Aronia juice concentrate, or pick them right off the bush in the wild. For anyone looking to improve overall health or maybe target a specific health condition the introduction of Aronia into the diet and routine can have extraordinary results.
Written by DMK of Seven Grains.