Aronia health benefits include supple, glowing skin and a huge dose of antioxidants. Find out more about this super berry - and why you should make it a staple in your pantry.June 20, 2022 2:07 pm August 27, 2018 4:45 pm
From the Apache to our pantries
The Apache are one of the most famous native American groups. Long before any colonizer set food on American soil, the Apache were living in the northern territory. They witnessed the development of the new nation first-hand.
An era of colonial violence displaced many of the Apache. Around them, their home transformed into one of the most powerful nations in the modern world. But, against the odds, they have managed to continue their rich cultural traditions,
The Apache people are divided into thirteen tribes, each with its own unique identity. Each has an individual culture. However, there are a few things which all Apache tribes have in common.
It would be impossible not to mention their oppression at the hands of the USA and Mexico. The Apache, along with other native American peoples, suffered greatly at the hands of the colonists.
They are also bound together by their animistic world view. The Apache believe that animals, objects and even places can all possess their own spirit. They express their beliefs through certain ceremonies.
One ceremony, which is common to multiple tribes, symbolizes the passage of young girls into womanhood. Rich in cultural symbolism, it is called ‘the Sunrise Ceremony’.
The Sunrise Ceremony
The Sunrise Ceremony marks an important passage from child to womanhood. It is performed to strengthen the individual girl along with her entire tribe.
The ceremony revolves around the symbolic number four. It represents the four stages of life (infant, child, teen, adult), the four sacred mountains and the four directions of the land and of prayer.
The young woman is guided through four days of the ceremony and must overcome each ‘sacred mountain’. She must demonstrate her commitment to the tribe in a show of tenacity, Without this, the other members of her tribe will not consider her to have fully entered womanhood.
On the twelfth and final day of the ceremony, the medicine man dines with the young woman. Then, finally, he gives her the gift of her Apache name, which she will keep for the rest of her life.
One particular tribe begins their Sunrise Ceremony with a special ritual. The young woman must run four laps between her tipi and a traditional woven basket. Indeed, the tribe takes its name from from the Mexican Spanish word for ‘little basket’: jicarilla.
But what does all this have to do with the aronia berry?
Aronia berries were a staple food for the Jicarilla
Aronia berries were an important part of the diet of many native Americans. They usually ate the berries raw, or dried them and mixed them into pemmican. Pemmican is type of food cake which contains dried meat, tallow and berries.
The Jicarilla would dry the fruit and press it into cakes, which they could stockpile for the difficult winter months. They would also mash the fresh berries and make a jam, or simply leave them to ferment to make cherry wine.
They made sure to use every part of the plant, even making a form of medicinal tea with its bark and roots.
"The Jicarilla would dry the fruit and press it into cakes, which they could stockpile for the difficult winter months."
What are aronia’s health benefits?
Aronia berries contain an impressive amount of health-boosting nutrients, including vitamin C and anthocyanins.(1)(3)
A 100g serving of aronia berries provides over a third of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C.(1) This vitamin plays a vital role in supporting your heart health. It also helps your body to make collagen and absorb iron.
Speaking of which, a 100g serving of aronia berries contains about 8% of your daily iron. Your body is better able to absorb iron in the presence of vitamin C, so it’s a win-win!
Aronia is also packed with health-promoting phenolic compounds. These are organic substances found in many fruits and vegetables, and are named after their molecular structure. There are many different types, and they are thought to be good for us in a variety of ways.
One type, in particular, is very interesting for scientists investigating aronia’s potential as a health food.
Anthocyanins are pigments which give the aronia berry its deep purple color. They are also powerful antioxidants.
These pigments can be found in other purple fruits and vegetables such as aubergines and blueberries, too. They are thought to contribute to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial health benefits of aronia.(2)(4)(5)
Whole aronia berries are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. You probably already know that eating fibre-rich foods promotes digestion. However, fibre may also you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of diabetes.
With a nutrient profile that powerful, it’s no wonder that aronia berries are hailed as a health food the world over. Here are our favorite aronia health benefits.
Aronia fights free radical damage.
Aronia berries can protect you against oxidative stress.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a type of unstable molecule that easily reacts with other molecules in a cell.(6) They’re sometimes called free radicals.
Your body makes a few free radicals during your normal metabolic processes. They don’t present a problem as long as there aren’t too many of them. However, factors like pollution can tip the scales and produce more free radicals than your body can easily handle.
Too many free radicals can cause damage to the lipids, proteins and DNA in your cells. At this point, the cell is undergoing ‘oxidative stress’, which is contributing factor in ageing and some health problems.
Luckily, the antioxidant properties of phenols have been shown to inhibit the formation of ROS.(5)(7)(8)(9)
If you’re curious just how powerful these berries are, let’s compare their antioxidant capability to that of blueberries and raspberries. Using a measurement called the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), scientists determined that aronia berries were over three times better at neutralising free radicals than red raspberries, and almost four times better than blueberries.(10)