Aronia Berry (chokeberry)
The Acai of North America
The Aronia Berry, commonly known in the United States as the chokeberry is one of the richest berry in
pigmented compounds known. It is these pigments and other phenolic compounds (anthocyanins, catechins, phenolic
acids, etc.) that are believed to make the aronia berry one of the powerful antioxidant fruits in the world.
The pre-American native inhabitants knew about aronia berries and used them for food, medicinal, and preservative (e.g., pemmican)
purposes. When the Europeans arrived, they found the astryngent berry unpalatable, and thus it received the name "chokeberry".
With a little preparation, the aronia berry in fact can produce delicious and healthy juices, wine, preserves, etc.
As interest in super-fruits has increased, the aronia berry has been given a new
place in the hierarchy of antioxidant fruits-
at the top of the heap! There are few berries in its class, acai possibly being one of them;
though the aronia berry has some unique characteristics worth considering. First of all, it is
native to the United States. Acai needs to
be pulped and frozen or freeze/flame dried, then shipped from Brazil. Also, like red wine, the
aronia berry has tannins (polymeric proanthocyanins and others). The tannins in aronia berry are much stronger
(more units in the polymer) than red wine. Interestingly, unlike red wine, the tannins in aronia
are largely water soluble. Tannins in wine require alcohol to solubulize. This may be why the
beneficial effects of red wine (the French Paradox) are not observed with red grape juice . It is
the tannins in aronia that earn it the name "chokeberry".
The aronia berry as well as other berries should be part of any health concious diet. Berries are tasty, fun to eat in different forms, and nutritional science is showing that they
have great potential health benefits.