Health Benefits of Chokeberries
Some of the most impressive health benefits of chokeberries include their ability to improve digestive processes, protect the body against free radicals, help lose weight, reduce inflammation, protect the immune system, prevent diabetes, improve eye health, slow the effects of aging, combat cancer, lower blood pressure, and stimulate repair to the body.
This type of berry, native to North America, is one of the most potent groups in terms of antioxidant content, which is part of the reason they are so widely sought for culinary applications, not to mention their unique flavor. Scientifically classified in the Aronia genus, there are about half a dozen different species that usually present in different colors, but the most common would be Aronia melanocarpa. The name chokeberry comes from the berry’s tart quality, and the fact that it often makes your mouth pucker when you eat it. This flavor becomes much more palatable when the berries are sweetened or used in various dishes.
It is easy to confuse chokeberries with other unique berry varietals in the Rosaceae family, as their appearance and organic components are quite similar to other beneficial berries, but chokeberries stand out from the crowd in terms of nutrient concentration. Rich in anthocyanins, carotenes, flavonoids, and various other organic antioxidants, in addition to vitamins and minerals, these super berries can play a major role in boosting health and treating/preventing a number of medical conditions. Chokeberries are commonly used in candies, desserts, cakes, beverage flavoring, yogurt, juice, beer, ice cream, wine, syrup, and can even be brewed as a tea. This wide range is due to its unique flavor, as well as the underlying health benefits, which will look at in more detail below.
Health Benefits of Chokeberries
Weight Loss: Right off the bat, chokeberries are low in calories and fat, yet contain dietary fiber and a wealth of nutrients. If you’re trying to feel full and stay healthy, without packing on any extra pounds, chokeberries can be an excellent dietary aid.
Digestion: As mentioned above, chokeberries are high in dietary fiber, meaning that they facilitate smooth digestion by moving food through the gut efficiently. By bulking up stool, fiber can help to eliminate constipation, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and general stomach discomfort. The organic compounds contained in chokeberries also protect the gut from dangerous bacteria, due to its natural immune-boosting and antioxidant activity.
Antioxidant Capacity: This is certainly the most important aspect of chokeberries, given that there are dozens of different antioxidants crammed into this one type of fruit! From quercetin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, and malvidin to lutein, zea-xanthin, and carotene, chokeberries provide a huge amount of antioxidant protection that can increase your overall health by eliminating free radicals in your bloodstream, skin, eyes, organs, and tissues that may be trying to cause healthy cells to mutate. The powerful anthocyanin and flavonoid activity is one of the most impressive and unique capacities of this tart fruit.
Cancer Prevention: Research has linked chokeberries and their anthocyanin content directly to a reduction in colon cancer. Given that this is one of the most widespread and largely untreated (until it’s too late) forms of cancer, these berries could be a wonderful preventative measure against it, particularly if you have other predispositions to that type of cancer.
Cognitive Disorders: One of the most damaging processes of free radicals affects the brain and cognitive pathways. The anthocyanins found in chokeberries have been directly linked to increasing neural pathway activity and reducing oxidative stress in the brain, thereby reducing the appearance and onset of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related cognitive disorders.
Immune System: While the antioxidants get most of the attention in chokeberries, there is also a significant amount of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells and is also a crucial component in the production of collagen. Collagen is integral for the growth and repair of new tissues, organs, blood vessels, and cells, while white blood cells function as the front lines of the body’s immune response.
Eye Health: The carotenes found in chokeberries are able to reduce oxidative stress in the eyes, thereby preventing the onset of macular degeneration and slowing or preventing the development of cataracts. Carotenes are some of the most powerful antioxidants and are found in significant levels in chokeberries.
Skin Health and Aging: There are a variety of components in chokeberries that can improve the health and appearance of your skin. Oxidative stress affects skin as we age, resulting in wrinkles, age spots, and the more severe appearance of blemishes and scars. The antioxidants in chokeberries can prevent these age-related symptoms, and due to their astringent property, can actually tighten the skin and shave years off your appearance!
Blood Pressure and Heart Health: The potassium content in chokeberries is high enough to have a noticeable effect on heart health, mainly because potassium is a vasodilator and can relieve the strain on the cardiovascular system. By relaxing the blood vessels and arteries, blood flow increases, blood pressure drops, and you can lower your chances of a heart attack or stroke. Dietary fiber and various antioxidants also have a crucial partnership with the heart in terms of lowering cholesterol levels and clearing out free radicals.
Antibacterial Effects: Recent research has shown that chokeberries have a direct impact on common flu and bacterial infections in the gut and respiratory tracts, making it a popular preventative measure during flu season and a great snack if you’re feeling the onset of a cold.
Diabetes Prevention and Management: The dietary fiber in chokeberries has also been linked to increase insulin regulation, which helps keep blood sugar levels normal and prevents the spikes and drops that can be so dangerous to those suffering from diabetes. These berries can also help prevent the disease, in addition to managing it.
A Final Word of Warning: Chokeberries are not known as a commonly allergenic food and limited side effects have been reported. However, due to the potent combination of chemical compounds, your body may react differently than others, so monitor your body’s reactions when first adding chokeberries to your diet.