Aronia refers to a flowering herb, or rather a group of flowering herbs, which have a fleshy interior and bear leaves at the top. Aronia officinalis and other related herbs are sometimes called “wild Aronia” because they look much like their domesticated cousins, the cactus-like privet. They share the same fleshy, green foliage, drooping flowers, and fruit as cacti and shrubs like Juniperus, Solanum, and Prunella. Aronia officinalis is the main species in this group and the wild counterpart of the cactus-like Aronia caespitosa. However, Aronia texana and Aronia spinosus plants are hybrids that look nothing like any of the species in this genera. Both seeds and the flesh of these plants belong to the same species, but they are rarely confused with each other.
Rich Source: As an herbal supplement, the most abundant ingredients found in Aronia products are flavonoids, the flavonoids that give these berries their characteristic aroma. Anthocyanins (or blueberries as it is commonly called) are another group of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that provide many health benefits when consumed. The fact that these berries are an excellent source of anthocyanins makes them a very important addition to a healthy diet, which has been known to be effective in improving cardiovascular health, reducing cholesterol levels, and increasing blood flow. Other important anthocyanins include tocopherols, which also provide protection against cardiovascular disease, and quercetin, which act as an anti-inflammatory and protect the gastrointestinal tract from damage by harmful chemicals and enzymes.
Popularity Among Individuals: For hundreds of years, the anise-herb has been popular among individuals all across the world. For centuries, it has been used as a medicinal treatment for a wide range of medical conditions including fatigue, nausea, cough, and diarrhea. While the berries are now readily available in supermarkets and health food stores, they are still fairly uncommon in home remedies and in the traditional therapy approach. This has likely, in part, been due to their relatively high price and limited availability – and while the rich health benefits of Aronia berries are certainly well worth paying for, they remain a relative rarity, so they must be marketed effectively.
Antioxidant Activity: Scientists have identified several antioxidant compounds in Aronia berries that may have some beneficial effects on humans. Among these compounds are flavonoids, which scientists believe may have antioxidant activity in human blood vessels and may potentially help protect against cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. Quercetin, a chemical compound in the skin of the Aronia tree, is another compound thought to have antioxidant activity. Preliminary studies appear to indicate that quercetin may help protect against cardiovascular disease and may even prevent some forms of cancer.
Nutritional Value: Based on nutritional data provided by manufacturers, there appears to be reasonable evidence that Aronia berries are relatively nutritious. They contain several types of antioxidants, including silymarin (which is believed to reduce homocysteine levels), protein, and quercitrin. Silymarin is probably the most highly significant contributor to the nutritional value of the entire plant, and it appears to be the only compound responsible for the high antioxidant concentration of the fruit. In test-tube studies, it appears to be very effective in preventing the formation of free radicals and in scavenging the effects of oxidative stress. It has also been shown to increase cell proliferation and to improve the antioxidant status of sperm.
Based on the test results documented here, the supplement industry should include a variety of antioxidants in products designed to promote overall health. However, since this is one area where there is relatively little direct clinical evidence of health benefits, it is not surprising that there are a limited number of safe Aronia products available on the market. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that some manufacturers have taken steps to develop products that contain significant amounts of antioxidants. While more research is definitely needed to validate the health benefits of this exotic berry, it is clear that these berries are an exciting new natural product with impressive nutritional potential.