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Chokeberries (Aronia) are cultivated as ornamental plants and as food products. The berries can be eaten raw off the bush but are more frequently processed. Chokeberries can be found in wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea, salsa, chili starters, extracts, beer, ice cream, gummies and tinctures. The name "chokeberry" comes from the astringency of the fruits, which create a sensation making your mouth pucker.

Chokeberry is one of its own kinds of berry packed with essential phyto-nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. These humble tiny berries from the wild natural shrub have recently grabbed the attention of fitness lovers and food scientists alike for their exceptional nutritive value.

Chokeberries are low in calories and fats. 100 g of fresh berries contain 47 calories. Nonetheless, they are one of the nature's richest sources of flavonoid anthocyanin antioxidants. In addition, the berries contain handsome levels of minerals, and vitamins, and dietary fiber obtained through their peel. The oxygen radical absorbency capacity or ORAC demonstrates chokeberry with one of the highest values yet recorded among berries-16,062 micro-moles of Trolox Equivalents per 100 g.

Botanically, it belongs to the Rosaceae family within the genus: Aronia. Scientific name: Aronia melanocarpa. Aronia are native to eastern North America and most commonly found in wet woods and swamps. The genus is usually considered to contain two or three species, one of which is naturalized in Europe. A fourth form that has long been cultivated under the name Aronia is now considered to be an intergeneric hybrid, Sorbaronia mitschurinii.

At least two species of chokeberries are cultivated widely, black and red. The plant bears numerous small, about 1 cm size fruits with relatively thick, pigmented skin. Red berries are sweeter in taste than black varieties; the latter are slightly bitter in taste; however, black and blue color berries are rather rich sources anthocyanin class of anti-oxidants.

The chokeberries are often mistakenly called chokecherries, which is the common name for Prunus virginiana. Further adding to the ambiguity, there is a variety of Prunus virginiana named melanocarpa. This is easily confused with Aronia melanocarpa, commonly referred to as "black chokeberry" or "aronia berry." Aronia berries and chokecherries are both high in polyphenolic pigment compounds, like anthocyanins, further contributing to confusion. In fact, the two plants are only distantly related within the Rosaceae family.

Black color berries consist of significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Total anthocyanin content is 1480 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, and proanthocyanidin concentration is 664 mg per 100 g. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries on a regular basis offers potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections. 

Laboratory analyses of anthocyanins in chokeberries have identified the following individual chemicals: cyanidin-3-galactoside, quercetin, peonidin, delphinidin, petunidin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, pelargonidin and malvidin. These flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants have proven health benefits through scavenging dangerous oxygen-free radicals from the body.

Cancer research on anthocyanins where in black chokeberry preparations were first used to inhibit chemically induced cancer in the rat esophagus was found to reduce the disease severity by 30-60% and that of the colon cancer by up to 80%. Effective at both the initiation and promotion/progression stages of tumor development, these berries are a practical research tool and hold a promising therapeutic source, since they contain the highest amount of anthocyanins among native North American berries.

They are also rich in flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes, luteins and zeaxanthins. Zea-xanthin has photo-filtering effects on UV rays and thus protects eyes from age-related macular disease in the elderly (ARMD).

Further, they are an also good source of many antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene and folate and minerals like potassium, iron and manganese. 100 g of fresh berries provide about 35% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin C.

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