Never heard about Aronia? You are not alone. Considering the tremendous nutritional value of this tiny, dark blue colored berry, aronia is still a great unknown to most people here in the U.S. This is surprising considering the long history of dietary use of this “very American berry” by humans, especially here in the United States.
Aronia has served as a staple in the diet of Native Americans for hundreds of years. Native North American Indians regularly used the berries to manage their daily health and well-being. While aronia berries were almost forgotten here in the U.S., this tiny berry eventually made its way into Europe in the late 19th Century. There the aronia berry gained much attention and eventually found commercial interest and use, especially in the former Soviet Union. There, the plant was grown at large scale since the late 1940s as a means for using it as a natural source of the antioxidant vitamin C. From there it eventually spread to Eastern European countries where aronia has been grown as a commercial berry crop since the 1950s. In 2004, aronia was cultivated on more than 11,000 acres in Poland alone. In Germany, Obsthof Stockinger (the grower and supplier of our juice products) and other growers in Central Europe started cultivation of aronia more than 20 years ago.
So, what is so special about this “Very American superberry”? Like many other berries and fruits, aronia is super-packed with free radicals fighting compounds called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that prevent potentially disease-producing cell damage caused by free radicals produced when the body breaks down food, and by environmental exposures like certain chemicals, tobacco smoke and radiation. Excessive and uncontrolled production of free radicals in our body has been connected to all different kinds of ailments and inflammatory diseases, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimers, diabetes 2, irritable bowel syndrome to cancer. As a matter of fact, when it comes to antioxidants, aronia is the unrivaled champion amongst all berries and fruits known to date .
With 16,062 micro-moles of Trolox Equivalents (TE) per 100 g fresh berries, Aronia berries show the highest ORAC value (a scientific measure for the antioxidant strength of food items) yet recorded among berries. On a fresh weight basis, aronia’s ORAC number is much higher than that of blueberries, elderberries, black currant, blackberries, cranberries and even the much better known acai.
The reason for this remarkable scientific finding is that Aronia is super-packed with natural antioxidants, most namely vitamin C, anthocyanins, proanthocyanindins, and hydroxycinnamic acids. The berries further contain very high levels of other antioxidants called flavonols (quercetin), and flavan-3-ols (epicatechins). The dark-blue, almost black, color of the aronia berry is due to the enormously high levels of immunostimulatory phyto-compounds called anthocyanins. The total amount of anthocyanins in fresh berries varies between a sensational 357 – 1790 mg per 100 g fresh weight. Compared with other anthocyanin-rich berries, i.e. elderberry or acai, aronia berries consist of almost exclusively cyanidin glycosides, e.g. cyanidin-3-arabinoside, cyanidin-3-galactoside, cyanidin-3-glucoside, and cyanidin-3-xyloside. The content of the proanthocyanidins found in fresh aronia berries, which primarily consists of epicatechins, is – with between 664 – 2120 mg per 100 g fresh fruit – also very high. The hydroxycinnamic acids found in fresh aronia berries are represented primarily by chlorogenic acid (61 – 193 mg/100g) and neochlorogenic acid (85 – 123 mg/100g). Hydroxycinnamic acid and chlorogenic acid have been connected with weight loss effects in animal and clinical studies and also shown to exert anti-inflammatory activities.
Aronia fruits further offer a series of organic acids, including succinic acid, malic acid, quinic acid, acetic acid, citric acid and oxalic acid. And if that is not already impressive enough, the aronia fruit also boasts high levels of folic acid, B vitamins, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and is also quite rich in the minerals potassium, iron and manganese.
Aronia’s high levels of antioxidants, most namely its polyphenolics and anthocyanins, have been associated with numerous health benefits against certain human conditions as reported in more than 90 research publications. Research indicates that anthocyanins confer a broad array of health benefits, including: limiting oxidative damage of DNA, inhibiting cancer cell growth, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, enhancing glucose tolerance and lipid profiles. In a 2015 study, anthocyanin-rich phytochemicals found in aronia fruits were able to suppress visceral fat accumulation and hyperglycemia in rats by inhibiting pancreatic lipase activity and/or intestinal lipid absorption. Research conducted with anthocyanins-rich extracts of aronia inhibited chemically induced esophageal and colon cancer in rats. According to another study, the polyphenols found in aronia juice are able to induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest through activation of p73, an important tumor suppressor protein. This upregulation of an important tumor suppressor – which is similar to the effects of the well-studied cancer-preventing polyphenol ECGC found in green tea – may explain the reported anti-cancer activity of aronia berries. Analysis of data from 13 clinical studies indicate that aronia products are useful as part of ‘functional food’ for prevention of oxidative stress-related human disorders or diseases.
According to one clinical study (Wiczkowski et al. – 2010), the health beneficial anthocyanins found in aronia berries are highly bioavailable to the human body. Anthocyanins given to healthy human volunteers in the form of aronia juice at a concentration of 0.8 mg anthocyanins/kg of body weight, were readily taken up and appeared in blood and urine samples less than 1 hour after consumption of aronia juice. Numerous scientific studies confirmed that aronia polyphenols are potent inhibitor of lipid peroxidation, a free radical-initiated process involved in many human inflammatory and chronic diseases. In vitro studies performed with platelets and other human cells showed that polyphenol-rich aronia extracts caused a concentration dependent decrease in superoxide radical production in patients with cardiovascular risk factors, but not in healthy individuals.
Aronia extracts also have been reported to exert significant concentration-dependent antiaggregatory effects in human individuals which may help to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks in people suffering from cardiovascular disease. Another human study performed with aronia extract showed that it reduced the adverse effects of homocysteine on the hemostatic properties of fibrinogen, indicating possible protective properties of consumption of aronia in hyperhomocysteinemia-induced cardiovascular disease.
For those who are not only interested in their personal health, but also in the health of our planet, aronia has another surprise fact in store. Due to its very high polyphenolics and anthocyanin content, the aronia berry plant is naturally resistant to pests and diseases. This remarkable feature allows our German grower to cultivate their aronia plants without the use of insecticides or pesticides, making it a truly organic product of nature.
Enjoy our aronia juice. Good for your health, good for the planet!
Don’t know much about elderberries? Keep reading.
Elderberries are the small, black colored fruits of the elderberry tree, a plant found in many parts of the world. Elderberry is considered one of the oldest medicinal plants. It has been mentioned in herbal and medical books going back to Medieval Times. The inconspicuous black berries, flowers and other parts of elderberry have been used as a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. Elderberry has been revered in different cultures around the world not only for its wonderful tangy-tart taste, but more so for its medicinal properties and health benefits. The Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 BC) already mentioned the healing powers of elderberry more than 2,000 years ago and praised the plant as a “medicine chest”. Elderberry is listed in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs since 1985. Since 2000, elderberry is also listed in Mosby’s Nursing Drug Reference as a remedy to treat common colds, the flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestions as well as hay fever. Elderberry’s health benefits range from cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulatory properties, helping to fight off colds, and other viral infections, such as “the flu” (influenza) and even HIV/AIDS. These and other reported health benefits, such as treatment of back and leg pain (sciatica) and chronic fatigue syndrome, have been attributed to the high polyphenolics and antioxidant levels of this little berry.
Like its dark purple colored “cousin” aronia, the elderberry is very high in natural antioxidants, most namely polyphenolics and anthocyanin. Today we know that black elderberry is – after aronia – the second richest source of anthocyanins, a class of well-studied immune boosting antioxidants . The total amount of anthocyanins in fresh berries varies between 603 – 1265 mg/100 g fresh weight, a concentration much higher than other, more popular anthocyanin-rich berries, i.e. blueberry and blackberry. The content of proanthocyanidins found in fresh elderberries is between 23-664 mg per 100 g also quite impressive. Besides being a great source of anthocyanins, elderberries are also rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenoids, organic acids and B-vitamins.
Important note: Fresh elderberries contain significant amounts of a plant toxin called Sambunigrin. Therefore, they should never be consumed as raw berries. The elderberries going into our elderberry juice have been preheated to destroy the toxin and are safe for human consumption.
Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that elderberry juice and extracts are able to improve critical health parameters. Oncology research performed at Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical Center, Israel, confirmed that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system and it is used treat cancer and AIDS patients. Research conducted by scientists at the German Bundesforschungsanstalt in Karlsruhe revealed that elderberry anthocyanins enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. Another study conducted at the University of Graz, Austria, revealed that elderberry extract reduced the oxidation of the “bad cholesterol” LDL, a process highly suspected to be responsible for the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. More recent scientific studies have linked the high levels of anthocyanins in elderberry with its immune-stimulatory properties and identified quercetin as the most active component in suppressing oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in nerve cells. According to an animal study, elderberry was able to lower the serum levels of fats (TAGs), improve inflammatory markers and insulin resistance. The anthocyanins found in elderberry may even lower the risk of certain forms of cancer. According to one study anthocyanin extracted from elderberries was able to inhibit the growth of human colorectal adenocarcinoma cells.
To assure our premium quality, our elderberry juice is extracted in the absence of oxygen and immediately cold stored in light-protected containers upon extraction. This process which minimizes oxidation and prevents UV degradation, assures maximum preservation of the health-supporting antioxidants contained in the berries. Almost needless to say, no sugar, additives, preservatives, dyes, or other synthetics are added and our juice is naturally free of gluten or lactose.
Enjoy our elderberry juice. Coming out of Nature, good for your health!
For those more interested in the science supporting elderberry’s health benefits, please
Never seen or heard of the black currant berry? Here is what you should know.
Black currant (Ribes nigrum L.) is a woody scrub native to parts of central and norther Europe and also northern Asia. Some Ribes species also exist in the wild in the United States.
Berries and other parts of black currant have been consumed by humans since pre-medieval times. The first mentioning of black currant was in the 11th century when it was already cultivated in monastery gardens in Russia. In central Europe, black currant was first mentioned in 1538 in the herbal book of Dodanaeus who also described it as a plant with medicinal uses. Throughout Europe, black curant was not only appreciated for its piquant black-colored berries to make jams and syrups, but also for its healing properties. In the 16th century the botanist and physician Jakob Dietrich (1520-1590) praises the healing effects of black currant in his herbal guide. In 1699, black currant is also described by pastor Lehmann, as a wild forest plant (“wildes Gichtbäumlein“) with strong indication that it may have been used to treat gout (German: Gicht). Traditionally black current teas and extracts have been used not only to treat gout, but also as a diuretic, to treat migraines, rheumatic and skin diseases. In Great Britain, from 1942 onwards, black currant syrup, due to its high vitamin C content, was given to children under the age of 2 free of charge.
Cultivation and use of black current was once popular in the U.S. But in the early 1900s cultivation of this antioxidant-rich fruit was banned due to its connection with white pine blister rust, a considered threat to the domestic logging industry back then. Fortunately, in 1966 the ban was eventually lifted in many U.S. states, allowing – the today vastly unknown but remarkable – black currant fruit to make a slow comeback in the U.S., especially in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and Oregon. Today many disease-resistant, new black currant varieties are being cultivated with great success in many parts of the world, including New Zealand.
Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that compounds found in black currant juice and extracts are able to improve critical health parameters. Let’s begin with antioxidants which are supposed to be good for you. Black currant is with about 180 mg/100 g fruit super-packed with the antioxidant vitamin C and also very rich in the electrolyte potassium. It also boasts a high content of vitamin E (another important antioxidant), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B3 (niacin). It further contains high amounts of the minerals phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and iron. But what sets the black currant berry apart from many other berries and truly makes it an interesting fruit from a health perspective is the fact that it offers high levels of phytochemicals, most namely anthocyanins, polyphenols and the omega-3 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid. Studies performed in the U.S. and in New Zealand confirmed that black currant berries contain more of the dark-blue colored and powerful antioxidants anthocyanins than any other commercially available fruits or vegetables (except aronia and elderberry). The anthocyanin levels of black currant range between 478-773 mg/100 g of fresh fruit. The average anthocyanin content of black currant is about 22% and 72% higher than that of blueberry and cranberry, respectively. Amongst the anthocyanidins found in black currant, science has identified delphinidin- and cyanidin-glucosides, both not only powerful antioxidants but also immune boosting compounds. Scientists also have identified the phenolics chlorogenic acid and neochlorogenic acids, the flavonols quercetin-3-glucoside, quercetin-3-rutinoside, and the flavanols procyanidin B2 and procyanidin type A2 in black currant berries. Many scientific studies have proven that polyphenols are strong antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-cancerous properties. Other scientific studies demonstrated that black currant juice may be effective against high blood pressure. The polyphenols may also be able to modulate the immune system and control blood glucose levels.
Black currant berry. A little berry with great health benefits!
For those more interested in the science supporting black currant’s health benefits, please click on the Black Currant Science button below.
Pomegranates are big these days. Literally.
Pomegranates (Punica granatum L.), which belongs to the family Punicaceae, are the large, red fruits of an ancient fruit tree. Its fresh fruits and juices have been consumed by human for more than two thousand years. The plant which is a native of the area of Iran and the Himalayas in northern India, has been cultivated and naturalized over the entire Mediterranean region since ancient times. Human use of the pomegranate fruit dates back to ancient times and its medicinal properties have been recognized ever since. The seeds of pomegranate were regarded as an agent of resurrection by the ancient Babylonians, as an agent of invincibility on the battle fields by the ancient Persians and as a symbol of longevity and immortality by the ancient Chinese. Since ancient times, the pomegranate has been regarded as a “healing food” with numerous beneficial effects in several diseases. Pomegranate was traditionally used in folk medicine to treat and cure ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhage, worm and microbial infections, and respiratory pathologies. Recent scientific studies – both in vitro and in vivo – have demonstrated that pomegranate has high levels of antioxidants and confirmed that this remarkable fruit indeed may offer numerous health benefits including:
• Acting as an anti-inflammatory agent
• Helping to fight prostate cancer and be useful against breast cancer
• Potential to lower the blood pressure
• Helping to reduce arthritis and joint pain
• Lowering the risk of heart disease
• Assistance in fighting bacterial and fungal infections
• Acting as an antidiabetic, and hypolipidemic agent
Even though much more rigorous science is needed, the health benefits of pomegranate are evident and can be attributed to its wide range of phytochemicals, most namely anthocyanins, proanthocyanidin and many polyphenols, including ellagitannins.
Many of the bioactive compounds, minerals, mainly potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, and complex polysaccharides, are found in the peel which makes up about 50% of the total fruit weight. The numerous fleshy arils of pomegranate which make up 40% of the edible part of the fruit contain the natural sugars fructose and glucose, pectin, organic acids, i.e. citric acid, and malic acid, vitamin C, the phenolics gallic acid, caffeic acid, catechin, quercetin and flavanoids. Anthocyanins are the largest and most important group of flavonoids present in pomegranate juice. The anthocyanins present in pomegranate juice are cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, cyanidin-3,5-di-O-glucoside, delphinidin-3-O-glucoside, delphinidin-3,5-di-O-glucoside, pelargonidin-3-O-glucoside, and pelargonidin-3,5-di-O-glucoside.
The polyphenols, vitamin C and anthocyanins act as antioxidants, show anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties and improve the diabetic condition and cardiovascular health. According to several scientific studies, pomegranate constituents were able to prevent and attenuate LDL oxidation a risk factor for development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Singh and others have shown that compounds in pomegranate help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and in 2007 Forest et al. reported the use of pomegranate to improve erectile dysfunction in male patients. Yet, another study showed that pomegranate extract is able to inhibit the production and expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα in microglial cells. In 2008, Hong and others demonstrated that pomegranate juice contains compounds able to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and suggested synergistic and/or additive effects of several phytochemicals present in pomegranate, including proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins. In 2005, Afaq and others reported that fermented pomegranate juice polyphenols inhibited in vitro proliferation of several human cancer cell lines (LNCaP, PC-3, DU 145) indicating significant antitumor activity of pomegranate compounds against human prostate cancer.
Pomegranate. Enjoy the health benefits of this ancient fruit!
For those more interested in the science supporting pomegranate’s health benefits, please click “Pomegranate Science”.