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Chokeberries: An Unexpected Superfood and Ally Against Cancer

Are you familiar with blueberries and their health benefits? Most people are. But you may be surprised to learn about the even better health benefits of blueberry’s cousin.

According to research published November 2022 in Molecules: “Chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) have been scientifically established as possessing various health-promoting qualities, including anti-diabetic, anti-infective, anti-neoplastic, obesity-decreasing and antioxidant benefits; in addition to having protective qualities against heart, liver and neuro diseases.”

And according to MedicineNet.com, chokeberries rank even higher as nutritional superpowers than their more famous berry counterpart!

What Are Chokeberries?

Chokeberries are native to North America, and have long revered by Native American tribes for medicinal use (check out this informative article from Yale Nature Walk). Chokeberries grow on cold-hardy shrubs that withstand extreme climate conditions. Chokeberries can be enjoyed raw or made into delicious dessert and savory recipes (check our featured recipes below).

If you’re curious about the taste, check out the Aronia Guide for their description of these tart little berries who they describe as having a “complex” taste.

Health Benefits of Aronia Berries:

  • Cancer-Fighting Properties: Researchers are discovering how aronia extracts may aid in slowing cancer cell growth and progression (see resources below).
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Early research suggests that aronia berries improve insulin sensitivity, offering exciting potential for managing diabetes (see resources below).
  • Enhanced Liver Function: Recent studies demonstrate how aronia fruit juice may help ease symptoms and boost liver health (referenced below)
  • Nutritional Powerhouse: Chokeberries are packed with anthocyanin pigments. According to MedicineNet.com, chokeberries rank even higher as nutritional superpowers than their more famous berry counterpart!

As research into chokeberries progresses, these little berries are emerging as powerful allies against many of the health issues afflicting Americans today.

Where to Find Chokeberries

You may find aronia berries (chokeberries) in your favorite health food stores like Whole Foods. Search frozen or bulk dried forms; alternatively check with local farmer’s markets.

Recipes

Add chokeberries to your diet easily by blending them into smoothies and shakes, or use them in flavorful, healthy tea recipes like this one from Edible Wild Food. But if you’re looking for something really different, check out these recipes that we scoured from the web!

Wojapi Sauce

Check out this Native American inspired recipe from The Gingered Whisk.

  1. 4 cups of chokeberries
  2. Place berries in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries break down into a thick sauce.
  3. Taste sauce and adjust as necessary using natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey for preferred sweetness.

Aronia Cheesecake Popsicles

This tasty treat is brought to you by Superberries.com.

Ingredients:

2 cups Superberries Frozen Aronia berries
2 cups authentic unsweetened Greek yogurt
6-8 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of 1 small lemon
Note: can substitute raspberries, blueberries or strawberries

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container as needed.
  2. Add  chopped or crushed berries to the bottom of small disposable cups or your favorite freezer pop molds. Add the yogurt-aronia berry mixture on top.
  3. Place cups onto a freezer-safe dish and freeze for 30 minutes, add popsicle sticks, and freeze for an additional 3-4 hours or until firm.

Aroniaberry Salsa

A delicious recipe from Superberries.com!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Superberries Frozen Aroniaberries
1 Medium Red Onion
3 Jalapenos
4 cups Roma Tomatoes
1-14 oz. Can Whole Corn
1-14 oz. Can Black Beans
4 Limes
1 Tsp. Salt

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the onion and place in a small glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt and squeeze the juice of one lime over the top. Mix and let sit while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Drain the corn and black beans. Put into a large bowl.
  3. Wash Aronia berries and add to the corn and black beans.
  4. Finely chop tomatoes and jalapenos – removing the seeds of each. (If you like jalapenos, add one or two more; for more of a kick or add one habanero pepper with the seeds removed.) Do not touch your face after chopping the peppers without first washing your hands. Add into a large bowl with Aroniaberries and black beans. Squeeze the juice from the remaining limes onto ingredients and mix.
  5. After mixing ingredients together, add the onions and mix once again. Let chill for an hour before serving.

 

Resources:

Ren Y, Frank T, Meyer G, Lei J, Grebenc JR, Slaughter R, Gao YG, Kinghorn AD. Potential Benefits of Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) Fruits and Their Constituents in Improving Human Health. Molecules. 2022 Nov 13;27(22):7823. doi: 10.3390/molecules27227823. PMID: 36431924; PMCID: PMC9696386.

Olechno E, Puścion-Jakubik A, Zujko ME. Chokeberry (A. melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott)-A Natural Product for Metabolic Disorders? Nutrients. 2022 Jun 28;14(13):2688. doi: 10.3390/nu14132688. PMID: 35807867; PMCID: PMC9268775.

Wei J, Yu W, Hao R, Fan J, Gao J. Anthocyanins from Aronia melanocarpa Induce Apoptosis in Caco-2 Cells through Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling Pathway. Chem Biodivers. 2020 Nov;17(11):e2000654. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.202000654. Epub 2020 Nov 6. PMID: 33016000.

Taheri R, Connolly BA, Brand MH, Bolling BW. Underutilized chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, Aronia arbutifolia, Aronia prunifolia) accessions are rich sources of anthocyanins, flavonoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, and proanthocyanidins. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Sep 11;61(36):8581-8. doi: 10.1021/jf402449q. Epub 2013 Aug 26. PMID: 23941506.

Olas B, Wachowicz B, Nowak P, Kedzierska M, Tomczak A, Stochmal A, Oleszek W, Jeziorski A, Pariekarski J. Studies on antioxidant properties of polyphenol-rich extract from berries of Aronia melanocarpa in blood platelets. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Dec;59(4):823-35. PMID: 19212014.

Khoo HE, Azlan A, Tang ST, Lim SM. Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food Nutr Res. 2017 Aug 13;61(1):1361779. doi: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779. PMID: 28970777; PMCID: PMC5613902.

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