Aronia berries - the free radical´s worst enemy


The destructive potential of free radicals and the role of Aronia berries

Free radicals are aggressive oxygen molecules that attack our cells around 10,000 times a day, not only causing physical ageing but also creating or promoting many diseases. They occur during digestion, due to UV rays, environmental toxins, stress, excessive bodily strain, etc.

Diseases caused by free radicals

The following listed diseases are promoted by free radicals:

-                     cardiovascular disease

-                     diabetes

-                     cataracts

-                     cancer

-                     dementia

-                     Alzheimer’s

-                     Parkinson’s

-                     and others

The aronia berry as the richest source against destructive free radicals

Polyphenols have about 100 times more antioxidant potential than vitamins (vitamin C contributes just 15 % to the antioxidant protection of cells).

What makes the aronia berry so special and interesting to us is the fact that, in various investigations and studies, their antioxidant capacity was much higher than that of other fruits. Apart from the high proportion of polyphenols, this is attributed, inter alia, to the high bioavailability of the aronia berry which also depends on the particle size – in the case of the aronia berry, this is in the nano range.

Comparison of the anthocyanin content of various fruits (per 100 g):[1] 

Aronia berry 800 mg

Sweet cherry 180 mg

Blue grape 165 mg

Blueberry 165 mg

Blackberry 160 mg

Raspberry 40 mg

Strawberry 30 mg

The ‘antioxidant capacity’, which indicates the potential of a food to protect against destructive free radicals, is measured as the ‘TEAC value’ (trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity).

The aronia berry reached the fantastically high TEAC value of 64.8 mmol/l and thus not only surpassed fruits such as cranberries or pomegranates in terms of antioxidant (cell protecting) effect, but even lapped them multiple times.[2]

Here is a summary of the effect of secondary plant compounds:

-                   antioxidant

-                   antiviral

-                   antimicrobial

-                   antithrombotic

-                   builds up the immune system

-                   antimutagenic

-                   anticarcinogenic (fights carcinogenesis)

-                   regulates blood sugar levels

-                   regulates blood pressure

-                   protects blood vessels

-                   hypolipidemic (lowers cholesterol levels)

-                   antiproliferative


Effect of the aronia/apple berry

Findings on the effect and mode of action of aronia berries primarily come from Eastern Europe, where the berry has traditionally been recognised as a medicinal plant for many years. It has only been researched for a few years; the University of Potsdam and the University of Heidelberg are the main institutions actively pioneering this.

As reported by Dresdener Neueste Nachrichten (Dresden Latest News) on 11/12 August 2007, the scientist Prof. Dr. Sabine E. Kulling from the University of Potsdam, after initial research in the context of a government-funded project, found that the secondary plant compounds from the aronia berry have a preventive effect on colon cancer and positive effects on blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.[3]

General effect of the aronia berry

The aronia berry has a multifactorial effect and, in general,

-                   works in an antioxidant manner (cell protection against attacks by free radicals)

-                   strengthens the immune system

-                   anticarcinogenic (cancer prevention)

-                   anti-inflammatory

-                   antimutagenic

-                   regulates blood pressure

-                   encourages circulation

-                   protects blood vessels

-                   relaxes the coronary artery

-                   stimulates metabolism

-                   is a diuretic

-                   is astringent

-                   regenerative on muscle and bone

-                   is an expectorant

-                   expels heavy metals

-                   promotes growth of children and foetuses

As already mentioned under ‘Active ingredients’, the aronia/apple berry is particularly notable for its exceptional potential for protecting against free radicals, which attack our cells making us old and ill. The free radicals are considered, among other things, to be direct or indirect causes of diseases in the cardiovascular system, cancer, joints, kidneys, eyes and other modern diseases.

According to research by the Potsdam research group, the aronia berry achieves the exceptionally high TEAC value of 64.8 mmol/l, even surpassing fruits such as pomegranate or cranberry!

Specific effect of aronia berries on diseases and various ailments

Healing mechanisms are attributed to the aronia berry for the following diseases and conditions:

-                                 cardiovascular diseases (protection against heart attack and stroke)

-                                 high blood pressure

-                                 clots

-                                 inflammation

-                                 joint conditions (arthritis, activated arthrosis)

-                                 diabetes mellitus

-                                 cancer

-                                 skin diseases, allergies

-                                 asthma

-                                 ageing

-                                 stomach inflammation

-                                 stomach lining inflammation

-                                 intestinal disorders

-                                 liver disease

-                                 gall bladder diseases

-                                 childhood diseases, such as scarlet fever and measles,

-                                 eye diseases

-                                 urethra infection 

-                                 kidney diseases

-                                 thyroid disorder

-                                 radiation injuries

-                                 injuries in chemo- and radiotherapeutic treatments

-            bacterial and viral illnesses

-             neurodegeneration

Effect of aronia berries on cardiovascular diseases

According to one study, the patients with the highest flavonoid consumption had 50 % lower cardiovascular disease mortality compared to the control group, which is more than significant. 

The ingredients of aronia berries, especially the flavonoids, which provide surprisingly high levels of protection against free radical attack, have the following effects on the cardiovascular system:

-                              inhibition of platelet aggregation (clumping of blood cells)

-                              anti-arteriosclerotic effects (protection against vascular calcification)

-                              cardioprotective effect (general protective effect of the cardiovascular system)

-                              improvement of blood fluidity

-                              anti-inflammatory effect

-                              blood pressure-regulatory effect

-                              relaxes coronary arteries

Effect of aronia berries on atherosclerosis

According to conventional medicine, atherosclerosis is the precursor to a heart attack or stroke. The strong antioxidant activity of aronia berries prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and improves the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol. Both of these factors provide reliable protection against plaque deposits in the blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis.

Effect of aronia berries against high blood pressure (high blood pressure)

The bioflavonoids contained in aronia berries, with their vitamin P activity, in combination with other minerals and vitamins contained in aronia berries, have a positive effect on the elasticity and permeability of the blood vessels. The nervous system is calmed and cholesterol deposits, which cause atherosclerosis, are prevented. All this makes aronia berries a potent cure for high blood pressure.

The effectiveness of aronia berries in treating high blood pressure (high blood pressure) is demonstrated by the decision of the Ministry of Health of the former USSR of 4 April 1959 to use aronia berries for testing in the treatment of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.[4] Just taking 200 ml of fresh aronia berry juice twice a day for a few weeks can significantly reduce high blood pressure, which also effectively reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Relaxing effect of aronia berries on the coronary arteries

David Bell and Kristin Gochenaur of Indiana Universitywere able to demonstrate the relaxing effect on the coronary vessels in animal tests on pigs’ hearts.[5]

Effect of aronia berries on cancer/malignant tumours

The flavonoids contained in aronia berries have been proven to provide protection against tumours in:

-                   breast cancer

-                   skin cancer

-                   oesophageal cancer

-                   colon cancer

-                   lung cancer

This is also due to the chemopreventive and antiproliferative properties, as well as the detoxification mechanisms of the flavonoids, which positively influence the apoptosis mechanisms as well as the immunomodulating properties.

The phenol ‘gallogen’, ellagic acid, is one of the other highly bioactive substances in aronia berries which has positive effects in cancer prevention as well as in cancer therapy.

Furthermore, the powerful antioxidant, detoxifying and antimutagenic potential of the aronia berry has a preventive effect on the development of tumours and is also therapeutically beneficial:

Aronia berry polyphenols can play an important role in cancer prevention and control because antioxidants work in all three phases: emergence, growth and progression of the carcinoma’. (Prof. Dr. Iwona Wawer)

Positive effects of aronia during and after chemotherapy

Studies have shown that aronia berry extract can protect against oxidative stress in all phases of chemotherapy due to its antioxidant activity.[6]

[1] Source: Deutsches Krebsforschungsinstitut Heidelberg (German Cancer Research Institute Heidelberg)

[2] Read more under ‘Effect of the aronia berry’ below.

[3] Sigrid Grün and Jan Neidhardt: Aronia – Unentdeckte Heilpflanze (‘Aronia – Undiscovered Medicinal Plant’), edition buntehunde GdbR, Regensburg, 2007, p. 40f.

[4] Albrecht 1993

[5] Sigrid Grün and Jan Neidhardt: Aronia – Unentdeckte Heilpflanze (‘Aronia - Undiscovered Medicinal Plant’), edition buntehunde GdbR, Regensburg, 2007, p. 28

[6] Kedzierska M. et al.: Effects of the commercial extract of aronia on oxidative stress in blood platelets isolated from breast cancer patients after the surgery and various phases of the chemotherapy. Fitoterapia 2011 Nov 12. PMID: 22101070