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Aronia from Chokeberry
 


THE DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER OF POLYPHENOLS

Rich in Polyphenols, Antioxidants

Like the blueberry, the black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is high in anthocyanins and antioxidant activity.1 Compared with the cranberry, it contains more than five times the amount of flavonoids and anthocyanins. Although native to eastern North America, the chokeberry has become popular in Eastern Europe and Russia because of its health-promoting potential.

"Aronia melanocarpa fruits are one of the richest plant sources of phenolic substances, mainly anthocyanins," Stefka Valcheva-Kuzmanova, MD, PhD, chief assistant professor of medicobiological sciences at the Medical University in Varna, Bulgaria, said. "Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice and anthocyanins derived from the fruits have been intensively studied during the last 15 years. Most of the effects of Aronia melanocarpa anthocyanins are due to their high antioxidative activity."

In animal studies, Dr. Valcheva-Kuzmanova's group has shown that Aronia protects the liver from chemical poisoning, and the stomach lining from ulcers caused by the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin.2 Aronia also acts as an anti-inflammatory substance to prevent swelling caused by release of the allergic mediators histamine and serotonin.3

Even more exciting, Aronia lowers harmful cholesterol levels in rats fed a high-fat diet,4 and prevents dangerous swings in blood sugar in experimental diabetes.5 In the laboratory, Aronia fruit juice slows growth of virulent Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli bacteria and of influenza virus type A.6 In contrast to antibiotics and other drugs, there is currently no evidence for "any unwanted and toxic effects of Aronia melanocarpa fruits, juice, and extracts," Dr. Valcheva­-Kuzmanova explained.

Other studies have shown that Aronia tends to prevent harmful mutations in cell cultures, to regulate immune function of human white blood cell cultures and in patients with breast cancer, and to suppress the growth of human colon cancer cells." Athletes consuming chokeberry juice have less oxidative damage to red blood cells during vigorous exercise.7

Bringing these findings to the arena of human disease prevention, a placebo-controlled study showed that patients treated with statins following a heart attack had reduced levels of inflammatory markers when they ingested chokeberry extract.8 Even more amazingly, they had reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 11 and 7 mmHg, respectively.

"In view of the fact that chokeberry flavonoids reduce the severity of inflammation, regardless of statins, they can be used clinically for secondary prevention of ischemic heart disease," the authors concluded.

References

1. Valcheva-Kuzmanova S, Gadjeva V, Ivanova D, Belcheva A. Antioxidant activity of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice in vitro. Acta Alimentaria. 2007;36(4):425-28.

2. Valcheva-Kuzmanova SV, Belcheva A. Current knowledge of Aronia melanocarpa as a medicinal plant. Folia Med (Plovdiv). 2006;48(2):11-7.

3. Borissova P, Valcheva S, Belcheva A. Antiinflammatory effect of flavonoids in the natural juice from Aronia melanocarpa, rutin and rutin-magnesium complex on an experimental model of inflammation induced by histamine and serotonin. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1994;20(1):25-30.

4. Valcheva-Kuzmanova S, Kuzmanov K, Tsanova-Savova S, et al. Lipid-lowering effects of Aroma melanocarpa fruit juice in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets. J Food Biochem. 2007;31:589-602.

5. Valcheva-Kuzmanova S, Kuzmanov K, Tancheva S, Belcheva A. Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2007 Mar;29(2):101-5.

6. Valcheva-Kuzmanova S, Russev V, Bojkova K, Belcheva A. Study of natural Aronia melanocarpa fruit juice for antibacterial and antiviral activity. Scr Sci Med. 2003;35:21-3.

7. Pilaczynska-Szczesniak L, Skarpanska-Steinborn A, Deskur E, Basta P, Horoszkiewicz-Hassan M. The influence of chokeberry juice supplementation on the reduction of oxidative stress resulting from an incremental rowing ergometer exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005 Feb;15(1):48-58.

8. Naruszewicz M, Laniewska I, Millo B, Dluniewski M. Combination therapy of statin with flavonoids rich extract from chokeberry fruits enhanced reduction in cardiovascular risk markers in patients after myocardial infraction (MI). Atherosclerosis. 2007 Oct;194(2):e179-4.

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension

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