You've heard that aronia, also known as chokeberry, is supposed to be healthy, but you want to form your own opinion about the "superfood"? What's behind the little blue berry? Does she really keep what the internet promises?
In this article we will answer your open questions about aronia. We have brought ourselves up to date with the latest science and will also present you with the results of various studies.
the essentials in brief
- The aronia berry has been proven to have a positive effect on general health and the human immune system . It helps to lower cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Aronia also has a positive effect on the digestive system(1).
- Aronia contains a lot of important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and amino acids. It has powerful antioxidant effects and is often dubbed a "superfood"(5). This can give the impression that people are absolutely dependent on aronia and can live healthy, this is not the case. Internet sites in particular that try to sell aronia in some form often advertise with the word "superfood" and the healing properties of the berry.
- Aronia is being researched for some diseases. Whether individual active ingredients are extracted from the berry, as is the case in cancer research(7), or whether the whole fruit is used. Aronia(6) is also being researched into the treatment of type 1 and 2 diabetes.
The effect of aronia: what you should know
In the following paragraphs, we will address questions that came up most often in our research and may interest you. We want to give you the opportunity to form your own opinion about the effects of aronia, which has hands and feet. All studies and articles we refer to are linked at the end.
What does aronia do in the body?
In general, the positive effect of vitamin intake on the body is beyond question. The aronia berry not only contains vitamins that are important for humans, but also minerals and secondary plant substances that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Consuming aronia helps to lower cholesterol levels and thus reduce the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Elevated cholesterol levels can lead to vasoconstriction and thus, for example, to heart attacks. Cholesterol can basically be divided into LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). The cited study also shows increased HDL levels in subjects after supplementation with Aronia(1).
Aronia also regulates the microbiological composition in organs and stimulates the production of short-chain fatty acids. It has also been shown that inflammatory stress in endothelium is reduced(3), so aronia has an anti-inflammatory effect on blood cells.
Endothelium are cells on the vessel wall of blood vessels. They produce substances that are responsible for regulating blood pressure and also influence the flow of blood.
The aronia berry contains, above all, polyphenols, which are the most important natural antioxidants. Much of the antioxidant activity comes from phytochemicals like polyphenol(4). There are also positive effects on the digestive tract due to the anti-inflammatory properties of chokeberry(2). More on that below.
In summary, it can be said that the aronia berry has a positive influence on the digestive tract and the cardiovascular system. However, the so-called bioavailability of certain secondary plant substances in the aronia berry is very low.
What are the ingredients of the aronia berry?
In the following, we will first go into the macronutrients of the aronia berry and then list the micronutrients.
To a large extent, aronia consists of carbohydrates (approx. 15%), which mainly result from fructose.
The berries contain only a very small amount of fat (<1%).
The proportion of vegetable proteins in the berry is just 0.7g per 100g.
|vitamins||Vitamin A, E, K, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid|
|minerals||Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Iodine, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Iron|
|amino acids||Asparagine, Aminobutyric Acid, Glutamine, Aspartic Acid, Gutamic Acid, Serine, Threonine, Ammonia, Proline, Alanine, Arginine, Glycine, Lysine, Valine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Tyrosine, Methionine, Ornithine|
In this table we have limited ourselves to the most essential micronutrients. The diploma thesis on which the table is based is available for a more detailed preparation(5).
What effect does aronia have on the intestines?
Aronia supplementation can have positive effects on gut health . The cited study shows that by increasing TH17 cells and regulatory T cells (Treg) in the body, chokeberry reduces the risk of ulcerative colitis(2). Ulcerative colitis is a chronic intestinal inflammation counteracting the TH17 cells.
The aronia berry has a confirmed, positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract. It increases the work of the intestinal barrier. (Image source: unsplash / Kat von Wood)
In an experiment from 2020, research was carried out on an intestinal barrier model with polyphenols from the aronia berry. The intestinal barrier serves to absorb nutrients and to contain harmful substances in the stomach contents. Aronia has been shown to increase the work of the gut barrier(9). This leads to a more extensive filtering of pollutants and the absorption of nutrients is also stimulated.
Can aronia help with diabetes?
Since aronia lowers the cholesterol level of LDL(1), this can have a positive effect on diabetics. People with diabetes should test their cholesterol levels regularly anyway and keep them lower than healthy people. Here the aronia berry can have desirable effects.
In a study with rats suffering from type 2 diabetes, it was shown that the aronia berry lowers blood sugar levels over the long term, increases glucose tolerance and regulates the enzyme activity for glucose processing(6). Furthermore, the aronia berry extract used also alleviated the insulin resistance of the liver.
The aronia berry also has positive effects on type 1 diabetes. Since chokeberry inhibits the increase in blood sugar levels, it also has positive effects on type 1 diabetes(10).
What effect does aronia have in connection with cancer?
There are too few well-founded studies to prove the general effectiveness of the aronia berry in cancer patients. There are also no known studies on living people. However, research is being done with the aronia berry to fight cancer.
The effect of components of the aronia berry plays a role in cancer research. Initial studies are promising, but treatment for cancer patients is still a long way off. (Image source: unsplash / ThisisEngineering RAEng)
However, research has been done using breast cancer stem cells. The growth-restricting effect of aronia berries on cancer cells could be reduced to a specific component of the berry, namely catechol. It is believed that this ingredient may be used in the treatment of breast cancer patients in the future, although further studies are needed(7).
Research was also carried out with the azerolthorn, another representative of the aronia berry genus, more precisely with its leaves. A 2020 study concluded that the leaves could be used to treat lung cancer(8). Here, too, further studies are necessary.
In the first laboratory tests with cancer cell lines, aronia berry extract was able to limit the growth of these cancer cells. This gives hope that individual active ingredients from the aronia berry can be used in cancer treatment in the future(12)
Studies examining the effect of aronia on blood cancer also show that aronia berry extracts inhibit the cell growth of cancer cells. To generalize and say that aronia helps treat any type of cancer would be wrong(12). All studies are carried out on individual cancer cells or cancer cell lines. There are no studies with cancer patients, the research into the effect of aronia on cancer is too early.
Does aronia help you lose weight?
There are no scientifically relevant studies that confirm a particular effect of the aronia berry on weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you should base your diet on biological facts. If you feed the body fewer calories than it consumes over a certain period of time, it will inevitably have to fall back on fat reserves and the person will lose weight.
Aronia is a berry that contains many health-promoting vitamins. However, it would be wrong to speak of a miracle cure for weight loss. (Image source: unsplash / Bill Oxford)
Nevertheless, aronia contains many essential vitamins and minerals and also has other positive effects on general health and partly on fat metabolism (5). Nobody would deny that aronia is a berry that has a lot of health-promoting properties, but it would be wrong to regard it as a miracle cure for weight loss. However, some sites on the Internet suggest this, after all they also want to sell their aronia products.
Can side effects occur with excessive consumption?
The tannins contained in the aronia berry can cause abdominal pain, especially on an empty stomach. If you are not overly sensitive to the ingredients in the berry or even have allergies to them, you can safely eat the aronia berry. At worst, excessive consumption can lead to mild stomach upset(11).
So it can be said that the consumption of Aronia is harmless, even if you shove the berries down your throat by the kilo, there will be no significant side effects, apart from abdominal pain.
It cannot be denied that aronia has a positive effect on the human body. The aronia berry contains many vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances. Aronia is even being researched to find medicines for serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. There are no specific side effects known to make consumption of this berry a concern(11).
However, calling the aronia berry a panacea or even the new "superfood" should be viewed critically. Everyone can live very well without taking this berry and is in no way specifically dependent on this fruit. However, websites often want to suggest this, and this usually goes hand in hand with the sale of their own aronia products.
Image source: unsplash / Alexander Mils
- Jamal Rahmani, Cain Clark, Hamed Kord Varkaneh, Theophilus Lakiang, Lenny T. Vasanthan, Vincent Onyeche, Seyed Mohammad Mousavi, Yong Zhang (2019) The effect of Aronia consumption on lipid profile, blood pressure, and biomarkers of inflammation: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Ruisong Pei, Derek A Martin, Jonathan C Valdez, Jiyuan Liu, Robert L Kerby, Federico E Rey, Joan A Smyth, Zhenhua Liu, Bradley W Bolling (2018) Dietary Prevention of Colitis by Aronia Berry is Mediated Through Increased Th17 and Treg
- Ting Wu, Charlotte Grootaert, Judit Pitart, Nevena Kardum Vidovic, Senem Kamiloglu, Sam Possemiers, Maria Glibetic, Guy Smagghe, Katleen Raes, Tom Van de Wiele, John Van Camp (2018) Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa) Polyphenols Modulate the Microbial Community in a Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME) and Decrease Secretion of Proinflammatory Markers in a Caco‐2/endothelial Cell Coculture Model
- Jung Hyun Kwak, Yoonji Kim, Soo In Ryu, Minho Lee, Hyo‐Jeong Lee, Yong Pyo Lim, Jean Kyung Paik (2020) Anti‐inflammatory effect from extracts of Red Chinese cabbage and Aronia in LPS‐stimulated RAW 264.7 cells
- Christine Misfeldt (2007) Health-promoting components of Aronia melanocarpa
- Jingjing Mu, Guang Xin, Bo Zhang, Yuehua Wang, Chong Ning, Xianjun Meng (2020) Beneficial effects of Aronia melanocarpa berry extract on hepatic insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus rats
- Hack S. Choi, Ji‐Hyang Kim, Su‐Lim Kim, Hong‐Yuan Deng, Doseung Lee, Chang Sook Kim, Bong‐Sik Yun, Dong‐Sun Lee (2018) Catechol derived from aronia juice through lactic acid bacteria fermentation inhibits Breast cancer stem cell formation via modulation Stat3/IL‐6 signaling pathway
- Islam Omairi, Firas Kobeissy, Salam Nasreddine (2020) Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Hemolytic Effects of Crataegus aronia Leaves and Its Anti-Proliferative Effect Enhance Cisplatin Cytotoxicity in A549 Human Lung Cancer Cell Line
- Jonathan C Valdez, Junhyo Cho, Bradley W Bolling (2020) Aronia berry inhibits disruption of Caco-2 intestinal barrier function
- Yong-Deok Jeon, Sa-Haeng Kang, Kwang-Hyun Moon, Jeong-Ho Lee, Dae-Geun Kim, Wook Kim, Jong-Sung Kim, Byung-Yong Ahn, Jong-Sik Jin (2018) The Effect of Aronia Berry on Type 1 Diabetes In Vivo and In Vitro
- Nicole Wender, Martina Feichter (2017) Aronia
- What is it: Aronia for cancer prevention?