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Chokeberry (aronia) nutrition facts

Chokeberry is one of its own kinds of berry packed with essential phyto-nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. These humble tiny berries from the wild natural shrub have recently grabbed the attention of fitness lovers and food scientists alike for their promising nutritive values.

Botanically, black chokeberries belong to the Rosaceae family, within the genus: Aronia. Scientific name: Aronia melanocarpa. Red chokeberries belong to the same species abd has botanical name: Aronia arbutifolia.

chokeberry chokeberry-bloom
Black chokeberries. (Aronia melanocarpa). Aronia bloom. (Photo: Linda. N)

At least two species of chokeberries cultivated, black and red. Black chokeberry is a small, deciduous shrub native to North-American cold regions. It grows to about 5 to 8 feet tall and bears numerous small, about 1 cm in diameter fruits with relatively thick, pigmented skin in pendulous clusters. Red berries are sweeter than black varieties, while the latter are slightly bitter in taste. However, black and blue color berries are rather rich sources anthocyanin class of pigment anti-oxidants.

Health benefits of chokeberry

  • Chokeberries are low in calories and fats. 100 g of fresh berries carry around 50 calories. Nonetheless, they are one of the nature's richest sources of flavonoid anthocyanin antioxidants. In addition, the berries contain handsome levels of minerals, vitamins, as well as dietary fiber through their peel.

  • The oxygen radical absorbency capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates chokeberry with one of the highest values yet recorded among berries-16,062 micro-moles of Trolox Equivalents (TE) per 100 g.

  • Black chokeberries consist of significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Total anthocyanin content is 1480 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, and proanthocyanidin concentration is 664 mg per 100 g (Wu et al. 2004, 2006). Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries on regular basis offers potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections. (- By Dr. Paul Gross, 2007-07-09).

  • Laboratory analyses of anthocyanins in chokeberries have identified the following individual chemicals: cyanidin-3-galactoside, quercetin, peonidin, delphinidin, petunidin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, pelargonidin and malvidin. These flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants have proven health benefits through scavenging dangerous oxygen-free radicals from the body.

  • Cancer research on anthocyanins in black chokeberry preparations was first used to inhibit chemically induced cancer in the rat esophagus, and was found to reduce the disease severity by 30-60% and that of the colon cancer by up to 80%. Effective at initiation and promotion/progression stages of tumor development, these berries can be a practical research tool and hold a promising therapeutic resource since they contain the highest amount of anthocyanins among native North American berries [J. Agric. Food Chem. 50 (12): 3495–500].

  • They are also rich in flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes, luteins and zeaxanthins. Zea-xanthin has photo-filtering effects on UV rays and thus protects eyes from age-related macular disease in the elderly (ARMD).

  • Further, they are also good sources of many antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene and folate and minerals like potassium, iron and manganese. 100 g of fresh berries provide about 35% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin C.

Selection and storage

In the wild, chokeberries usually picked up from their natural habitat and eaten directly after simple washing. While purchasing from the stores, choose berries that are plump, fresh, uniform, shiny, clean-surface and color. Remove any wet, mottled berries since they tend to spread mold to other ones.

chokeberries can be stored inside the refrigerator for about a week. Wash them in cold water just prior to use to keep their texture intact.

Preparation and serving methods

Chokeberries in their natural form feature very thin whitish waxy coat on them, as you can also find in other berries like grapes, blueberries....etc. Red berries are sweeter than black variety; however, the latter have high levels of pigment anti-oxidants.

To wash, gently swish them in a bowl in cold-water for few minutes. Then mop dry using a soft cloth, taking care not to injure them. This method also brings them back to room temperature, and enhances their taste and flavor.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Chokeberries are great addition on ice cream tops, and fruit salads.

  • They are also used in juice, cakes, muffins, tarts, and pies.

  • Dried chokeberries can be eaten alone or added to confectionary, and in baby food preparations.
  • Chokeberry syrup has been used in variety of recipes.

Safety profile

Chokeberry contains oxalic acid, a naturally-occurring substance found in some fruits and vegetables, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. It is therefore, in individuals with known history of oxalate urinary tract stones may not want to eat too much of these fruits and vegetables. Adequate water intake is advised in them to maintain normal urine output. Oxalic acid also interferes with the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further Reading:

1. Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk (Opens New Window).

2. USDA NRCS- Plant guide..

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