Aronia is part of the aster family, and the majority of its genus is in common use as a spice, including being the source of pepper. The chokeberry family, which Aronia belongs to, contains three subspecies and numerous sub-species around the world. Some of the most common and well-known members of the group are: the blueberry, blackberry, and cranberry. Aronia is a common genus of shrubs, which the majority of the species are native to the eastern North America, particularly in wetland regions and swamps.
The leaves of Aronia, which can be eaten raw or juiced for consumption, contain numerous antioxidants and belongs to the most important antioxidant foods. Some of these antioxidants are useful in fighting free radicals, which may cause damage to the heart and other body organs. Others are important for regulating blood pressure and regulating body temperature. A unique characteristic of the plant is that the leaves are coated with a bitter resin that may help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Heart disease and inflammation are both believed to be aggravated by high amounts of free radicals, and research has indicated that antioxidants may protect against both conditions. It is not clear how the antioxidants work, but evidence suggests that they may prevent the development of blood clots and plaque that form in arteries, which may protect the heart. Studies also suggest that the plant may protect against cholesterol build-up and inflammation.
The plant’s high levels of carbohydrates, protein, and lipids make it an excellent source of nutrition. In addition to the health benefits that have been attributed to the antioxidant properties of the leaf, research has indicated that the plant has antibiotic, laxative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has indicated that consuming aronia berries may help prevent type II diabetes and heart disease. Further studies are currently being done on the subject. However, preliminary evidence supports the notion that the leaves of the plant may help protect cardiovascular health. Preliminary evidence also indicates that the antioxidants found in the leaves may help prevent cancer, as well.
Aronia is quickly gaining popularity among the growing population of “green-thumbs”. In addition to its nutritional benefits, this no-nonsense herb has a delightful taste like honey. When added to teas and juices, its sweet taste like honeydew or prune juice is highly complementary to many other beverages, not to mention the fact that it can be eaten on its own. When added to the top of steamed white rice, Aronia berries make for a delicious breakfast food that has been used by generations of people all around the world. While research continues to confirm and amplify the many health benefits of this little known superfood, we can’t deny the fact that it does taste like honey.