Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released the results of a study which found that the chokeberry, a Native American fruit also known as Aronia, assists in regulating proper weight and helps balance out blood glucose levels.
Native to eastern North America, chokeberry shrubs typically grow in moist areas like swamps and wet woodlands. They are rich in flavanoids, trace minerals and phenolic phytochemicals, as well as B, E, C vitamins and folic acid.
According to scientists, chokeberries also have very high anthocyanin levels, which means they are rich in powerful antioxidants. Consumption of the fruit induces a powerful protective effect against the damaging consequences of free radicals, which includes serious diseases like obesity and cancer.
Particularly in regards to weight gain, chokeberries illicit a weight balancing effect that prevents the body from accumulating too much stored fat, especially in the abdominal region. Chokeberries also help to level out high blood glucose levels, effectively warding off the onset of diabetes.
Bolin Qin and Richard Anderson, two researchers from the USDA in Beltsville, Maryland, discovered these facts and others when testing the fruit’s effects on laboratory rats. The team first fed male rats high levels of fructose for several weeks in order to bring about a pre-diabetic effect. They then administered chokeberry extract to one group of rats and plain water to the other to see if any noticeable benefit would occur in the chokeberry group.
In the end, the chokeberry extract group was thinner than the control group and had blood glucose levels that were demonstrably lower. The chokeberry group also had decreased triglyceride, cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, indicating that the fruit protects the heart and cardiovascular system from disease.
Chokeberry fruit is often used to make jams and jellies because it has a strong tart flavor. Chokeberry extract can be purchased in supplement form from health food stores, and is also available in powder form for use in smoothies, protein shakes or even homemade ice cream.
You can even grow chokeberry bushes yourself if you want to have fresh fruit throughout the year. The deciduous bushes grow best in hardiness zones four through eight, which cover a significant portion of the United States.
Since chokeberry shrubs require relatively little maintenance and keep their berries throughout the winter, they are an excellent superfood plant to have in your garden.