Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), an antioxidant-rich fruit available in supplement form, is said to offer a range of health benefits related to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a destructive process linked to many chronic diseases (including heart disease), and it occurs when DNA-damaging free radicals overwhelm the body's ability to neutralize them. Chokeberry extract is thought to fight oxidative stress by providing potent antioxidants known to knock out free radicals and offer additional health benefits.
The Science Behind Chokeberry's Benefits
To date, few studies have tested chokeberry's effects on human health. Here's a look at several findings from animal research, test-tube studies, and small clinical trials:
1) Chokeberry and Oxidative Stress
Chokeberry may be useful in treating conditions related to oxidative stress, according to a research review published in 2010. The review's authors sized up 13 studies, finding that chokeberry's mixture of procyanidins, anthocyanins and phenolic acids "constitutes one of the most potent natural antioxidants." However, the authors note that most of the reviewed studies are of poor quality, and that more rigorous research needs to be conducted before chokeberry supplements can be recommended as a means of combating oxidative stress.
2) Chokeberry Extract and Metabolic Syndrome
In a small study published in 2010, researchers found that chokeberry extract may benefit people with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of health problems linked to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, including excess belly fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and inflammation). For two months, 25 patients with metabolic syndrome took 100 mg of chokeberry extract three times daily. Study results showed that the patients experienced significant decreases in blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
3) Chokeberry and Diabetes
Chokeberry may help keep blood sugar in check in people with diabetes, suggests a small study published in 2002. After drinking 200 ml of a sugar-free, artificially sweetened chokeberry juice daily for three months, diabetes patients showed a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels. Chokeberry juice also appeared to reduce total cholesterol levels.
Should You Use Chokeberry Supplements?
Due to the lack of scientific support for chokeberry's health benefits, it's too soon to recommend chokeberry supplements for any health condition. If you're interested in using chokeberry to treat or prevent a particular health problem, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.
Broncel M, Kozirog M, Duchnowicz P, Koter-Michalak M, Sikora J, Chojnowska-Jezierska J. "Aronia melanocarpa extract reduces blood pressure, serum endothelin, lipid, and oxidative stress marker levels in patients with metabolic syndrome." Med Sci Monit. 2010 16(1):CR28-34.
Chrubasik C, Li G, Chrubasik S. "The clinical effectiveness of chokeberry: a systematic review." Phytother Res. 2010 Jun 22.
Simeonov SB, Botushanov NP, Karahanian EB, Pavlova MB, Husianitis HK, Troev DM. "Effects of Aronia melanocarpa juice as part of the dietary regimen in patients with diabetes mellitus." Folia Med (Plovdiv). 2002;44(3):20-3.