If you live outside of the Unites States or parts of Europe, you’ve probably never heard about chokeberries. However, these berries possess several health benefits that may be of interest to you. In this article, we will discuss what these berries are, and how they can help improve your health.
What Are Chokeberries?
Belonging to the genus Aronia, there are actually 4 varieties of this berry found in the United States and Europe, with it found growing abundantly in wetter forested regions and swamps. While used ornamentally, it is more commonly included as an ingredient in various jams, jellies, juices and gummy products owing to its astringent like taste which causes one to characteristically and predictably “pucker” their lips.
Its taste is sometimes regarded to as sour for this reason, though more correctly it has a tart and choking sensation. Its taste becomes much more palatable when sweetened or added to sweeter accompaniments.
Chokeberries (Aronia) Nutrition Facts Per 100g
Total Carbohydrate-9.6g 3%
Dietary Fiber-5.3g 21%
Vitamin A-350IU 7%
Vitamin C-21.0mg 35%
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)1.6mg 8%
Vitamin K-13.6mcg 17%
9 Amazing Health Benefits of Chokeberries
1. May Reduce Cancer Risk
When it comes to their ability to reduce cancer risk, berries lead the pack owing to their rich spectrum of active compounds. Chokeberries contain anti-oxidant vitamins and compounds known as anthocyanins- capable of reducing the likelihood of cells experiencing cancerous changes. This effect appears to be particularly notable on cancers affecting the colon, making adding these berries to your diet well worth the time.
It also shows great promise in helping to reduce the risk of breast cancers, and although more studies need to be conducted to confirm this benefit, it is very exciting to say the least.
2. May Reduce The Risk Of Developing Diabetes
While type 2 diabetes is often referred to as an adult onset diabetes, it is also likely for type I to develop in adults owing to damage to the insulin producing cells within the pancreas. Use of chokeberries can help possibly reduce the risk of developing either type of diabetes, by helping to suppress the effect of inflammatory damage on this insulin producing organ.
In type II diabetics, use of the berry can help improve insulin sensitivity, having the net result of reducing blood glucose values. In turn, damage that is caused by elevated blood glucose levels is minimized and other metabolic complications are avoided.
3. May Help With Weight Loss
Weight loss usually requires a multifaceted approach, and is one which chokeberries are ready to assist with. Being naturally low in calories and rich in fiber, consuming the berries can be a great way of decreasing your overall caloric intake while also preventing excessive hunger from developing.
Coupled with the fact that it can help improve glucose uptake by cells means that your weight loss efforts are not likely to be negatively affected by high levels of insulin chronically floating around in blood. Of course, the astringent taste may be difficult to get past, so adding it to a suitable low-calorie and low carbohydrate sweetener may be the way to go.
4. Helps Preserve Cognitive Function
Oxidative damage and inflammation accumulated over the years takes its toll on the body, with the brain not exempt from these effects. This is why consumption of chokeberries is an excellent way to help prevent accelerated cognitive decline, since it can help to neutralize the production of excessive free radicals, reducing the impact of oxidative damage on structures within the brain.
In turn, by reducing the degree of cellular damage to the brain, diagnosis of many age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are reduced, or at least delayed for several more years.
5. Promotes Healthy Skin
One should not forget the fact that chokeberries are excellent sources of vitamin C, a necessary component in the production of collagen by the body. Centuries ago, scurvy was a very common ailment experienced by sailors who would spend weeks to months at sea without access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The scurvy that developed resulted in weakened connective tissue, leading to severe joint pain and bleeding from mucous membranes, especially the gums.
Today it is known that collagen plays an important part in maintaining the structural integrity of these mucous membranes, but in addition to this also helps to keep your skin youthful and healthy looking. This is especially important if you spend lots of time outdoors as sun damage can quickly deteriorate the health of our body’s primary defense barrier – the skin.
6. Helps Preserve Vision
Chokeberries contain natural carotenoid compounds which are very important to maintaining the health of the structures within the eye. Of these, the most significant is on the macula, where excessive oxidation or inflammation can bring about premature macular degeneration and subsequently loss of vision.
Consumption of sufficient amounts of carotenoid compounds and vitamin A can slow the rate of this mostly unavoidable consequence of aging, and in turn prevent the likelihood of you developing vision loss for years to come.
7. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure
Hypertension is extremely common, affecting millions of people around the world and increasing the risk of associated cardiovascular episodes by an exponential number. Consumption of chokeberries is helpful in regulation of normal blood pressure thanks primarily to the presence of potassium.
Potassium is one of the body’s primary electrolyte minerals that plays a key role in the regulation of fluid balance. It can help to promote the excretion of excessive sodium and water from the body, which are some of the primary contributors to elevated blood pressure.
In addition to this, potassium also possesses the ability to dilate blood vessels, helping the body to cope with temporary increases in blood volume. It also helps to support blood vessel flexibility so that they more easily accommodate required changes to blood pressure.
8. May Help Reduce Elevated Cholesterol Levels
One of the best ways of reducing hypercholesterolemia is to increase the consumption of fiber. Fiber can act as a sponge, helping to remove excessive amounts of free fatty acids in the blood, but more reliably, by promoting the excretion of bile acids.
Bile acids are involved in the metabolism of fat, but is usually recycled by the body, negating the need for production of this new enzyme every time. Being synthesized from cholesterol, it is actually a good thing to remove bile acids from circulation, so that the body can dip into its reservoir of cholesterol, in turn helping to effect a drop in total cholesterol.
Maintaining a healthy cholesterol value is necessary to reduce the risk of several associated cardiovascular complications, including atherosclerotic plaque deposits which raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
9. May Help Treat Urinary Tract Infections
Diseases have always been around – this is the fact. They have been around long before the advent of commercially available antibiotics, and while there was a much higher associated mortality risk, people generally relied on natural remedies to effect a cure.
Chokeberries were one of the go to remedies of North American natives in the treatment of urinary tract infections, owing primarily to the presence of a compound known as quinic acid.
The berries also possess generalized antibacterial actions, though the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria these days means that there is a high probability relying on the berries for a cure may not work.
Regardless, chokeberries appear to confer overall protective actions to the kidneys and urinary tract as a whole, adding real evidence of its potential.
Look, we know that consuming chokeberries as is doesn’t sound like a practical option, so we’re not advising you do that. Rather, what we are suggesting is that you add chokeberries to more finished products, such as jams, jellies, juices and more.
However you get yours in, the key thing is to ensure that you do to experience its many beneficial actions.