The better berry: Aronia Berries or Cranberries

Mon, 2019-08-26

When it comes to healthy berries, cranberries are one of the first to be brought up in conversation. Commonly known for being high in fibre and vitamins, they are essentially the mascot for many other berries. However, some other berries, like the lesser-known aronia berry, are comparable (if not better) in terms of the healthy chemicals they contain. As such, the aronia berry – also known as the black chokeberry – will be matched up against the cranberry in terms of their relative nutritional value.

Both cranberries and aronia berries are rich in vitamins C and E1, which are essential for maintaining one’s immune system and promoting skin and cell health, among many other functions.They are also both rich in carotenoids, which are good for preventing eye diseases[1]. However, studies show that aronia berries are one of the highest in Carotenoids, while cranberries turned out to be one of the lowest among those tested[2]. Two of such Carotenoids is Lutein and Zeaxanthin, these compounds are accumulated in the eyes and are responsible for protecting the eyes from blue light. Lutein is also associated with good blood circulation as it has an antioxidant effect on cholesterol[3].

One of the reasons why cranberries are popular is their ability to treat and prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), an infection that plagues 50% of women at least once in their lifetime. However, studies have shown that aronia berries might be more useful in preventing UTIs[4], through its much higher concentration of quinic acid. Having a Quinic Acid concentration 5-10x more than that of Cranberries, the Aronia berry has the ability of promoting good bladder health. Some studies have even shown that Aronia Berry juice can even prevent bacteria from infecting the bladder[5]. It is clear that Aronia Berries are far more superior when it comes to UTI prevention, we went in depth into how Aronia Berries help with UTI in our previous blog post (https://www.idoori.com/blog/super-berries-are-the-new-black), click on the link to find out more.

Both cranberries and aronia berries are rich in anthocyanins and flavonols, which are renowned for their antioxidant abilities[6]. On average, aronia berries have 2.5 times the anthocyanin count of cranberries while cranberries have 3 times the flavonol count of aronia berries[7]. This then brings up the question: Which is a better antioxidant? Well, the short answer is that anthocyanins have stronger antioxidant abilities compared to flavonols[8], making aronia berries a better source of antioxidants overall. To illustrate, the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test, which measures antiradical (and thus antioxidant) ability, shows that cranberries have 18.5 µmol of TE/g while chokeberries have a whopping 160.2 µmol of TE/g[9]-- the highest among all the berries tested.

Overall, it is easy to see that the cranberry deserves its health food status. Nonetheless, it appears to have blocked its less popular – yet much more nutritious – relative, the aronia berry, from the spotlight. The aronia berry outclasses its better-known competitor in many ways and adding some of them to your diet is as easy as having some juice before a meal. Doing so brings so many health benefits to the table with little effort on your part, so consider adding it to your pre-meal routine!

 

The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and should not be considered as medical advice.

 

[1] Basu, A., Rhone, M., & Lyons, T. J. (2010). Berries: Emerging Impact on Cardiovascular Health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(3), 168-177. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00273.x

[2] Szajdek, A., & Borowska, E. J. (2008). Bioactive Compounds and Health-Promoting Properties of Berry Fruits: A Review. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 63(4), 147–156. doi:10.1007/s11130-008-0097-5

[3] Dwyer, J. H., Navab, M., Dwyer, K. M., Hassan, K., Sun, P., Shircore, A., ... & Merz, C. N. B. (2001). Oxygenated carotenoid lutein and progression of early atherosclerosis: the Los Angeles atherosclerosis study. Circulation, 103(24), 2922-2927.

[4] Handeland, M., Grude, N., Torp, T., & Slimestad, R. (2014). Black Chokeberry Juice (Aronia Melanocarpa) Reduces Incidences of Urinary Tract Infection Among Nursing Home Students in the Long Term - A Pilot Study. Nutrition Research, 34(6), 518-525. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.05.005

[5] Handeland, M., Grude, N., Torp, T., & Slimestad, R. (2014). Black chokeberry juice (Aronia melanocarpa) reduces incidences of urinary tract infection among nursing home residents in the long term—a pilot study. Nutrition research, 34(6), 518-525.

[6] Hwang, S. J., Yoon, W. B., Lee, O. H., Cha, S. J., & Kim, J. D. (2014). Radical-Scavenging-Linked Antioxidant Activities of Extracts from Black Chokeberry and Blueberry Cultivated in Korea. Food Chemistry, 146, 71-77.

[7] Kähkönen, M. P., Hopia, A. I., & Heinonen, M. (2001). Berry Phenolics and their Antioxidant Activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 49(8), 4076-4082. doi:10.1021/jf010152t

[8] Jakobek, L., & Seruga, M. (2012). Influence of Anthocyanins, Flavonols and Phenolic Acids on the Antiradical Activity of Berries and Small Fruits. International Journal of Food Properties, 15(1), 122-133. doi:10.1080/10942911003754684

[9] Zheng, W., & Wang, S. Y. (2003). Oxygen Radical Absorbing Capacity of Phenolics in Blueberries, Cranberries, Chokeberries, and Lingonberries. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(2), 502–509. doi:10.1021/jf020728u

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