In a recent review published in the journal Nutritional sciences and human well-being, researchers gathered current research on the disease control and prevention potential of Aronia melanocarpa, the black chokeberry. They summarize and present the critical metabolites of black chokeberry, their respective anti-disease (prevention, adjuvant and therapeutic) properties, and the diverse mechanisms of action that these functional components exert on the human body.
Study: Polyphenol components in black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) as clinically proven disease control factors – a review. Image credits: Emberiza / Shutterstock
The history of black chokeberry in medicine
Aronia melanocarpa, Colloquially known as the black chokeberry, it is a branching shrub species native to eastern North America. It belongs to the Rosaceae family and can be recognized by its glossy dark green leaves that turn red in autumn. Following research into its health benefits, black chokeberry can now be found in large-scale growing facilities across Canada, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.
Black chokeberries have traditionally been used to treat the common cold in North America, but after intensifying clinical research, have shown promise in the treatment of metabolic (hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia), cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. In addition, some in vitro models have found that black chokeberries have significant immunoregulatory effects, especially anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.
Functional components of black chokeberries
The medically relevant functional activity of A. melanocarpa is mainly attributed to its rich and varied polyphenol content. Fresh black chokeberries are known to contain up to 2994 mg/100 g of these compounds, including flavonoids and phenolic acids. Flavonoids are further divided into flavonols, anthocyanins and flavonols. Likewise, the phenolic acids of black chokeberry include chlorogenic and caffeic acids.
Polyphenols, especially flavanols, are the richest components of black chokeberries. Research has shown that the therapeutic activities of this herb can be mainly attributed to the antioxidant properties of its metabolites, which remove and neutralize circulating free radicals in humans, thereby combating a spectrum of chronic diseases.
Black chokeberry polyphenols have been clinically proven to significantly reduce blood lipid levels by inhibiting cholesterol absorption in the small intestine and attenuating adipogenesis. This, in turn, makes black chokeberry supplements effective in controlling hyperlipidemia and obesity and, by extension, the development of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. The anti-obesity effects of black chokeberries extend to fat digestion, with multiple functional polyphenols inhibiting pancreatic lipase activity, thereby reducing fat absorption and the accumulation of visceral fat.
In vivo Mouse models have shown that even when genetically modifying mice by inactivating their apolipoprotein E gene, four weeks of black chokeberry extract significantly lowered plasma cholesterol, preventing or delaying the onset of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
Encouragingly, black chokeberry extracts have a profound positive effect on the gut microbiota; many components of black chokeberry reach the colon after ingestion. These components have been shown to increase intestinal microbial diversity and decrease the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio (F/B ratio). Since the F/B ratio has been highlighted as a critical marker of obesity, these changes, together with the increased relative abundance of beneficial Bacteroids, PrevotellaAnd Akkermansia species, have been shown to reduce hepatic steatosis and obesity and promote dyslipidemia in mouse models.
“It should be noted that black chokeberry did not show the ability to reduce blood lipids and body fat in healthy people.”
Black chokeberries have further been proven to be useful in hypertension interventions. Characterized by elevated arterial blood pressure, hypertension is a complex cardiovascular disorder resulting from the interplay of numerous genetic and environmental factors. Research has shown that black chokeberry extracts (containing both polyphenols and non-polyphenols) can significantly reduce arterial blood pressure through the influence of cyanidins (subtype of anthocyanins) and chlorogenic acid. Four weeks of black chokeberry intake was sufficient to stabilize systolic and diastolic blood pressure in rats with spontaneous hypertension.
Analyzes of the daily urine volumes of these rats showed that rats consuming black chokeberry extracts urinated more frequently and in greater amounts than their control counterparts, suggesting that black chokeberry may exert a diuretic influence. The antioxidant properties of this herb can further reduce high blood pressure by removing organ-damaging free radicals from the human body, thereby reducing blood lipid peroxidation, vascular dysfunction and oxidative stress.
Black chokeberries have also been shown to have profound anti-hyperglycemia and anti-inflammatory benefits. The polyphenols in these herbs, especially their polyphenols, chlorogenic acids and cyanidins, exhibit potent inhibition of α-amylase activity. In addition, anthocyanins in black chokeberries have been found to inhibit the expression of metabolic genes (e.g., insulin resistance), promoting hypoglycemic outcomes.
“The blood glucose regulation of black chokeberry can be used as an effective supplementary hypoglycemic food. In clinical research, black chokeberry showed different hypoglycemic effects for different types of patients. Long-term intake of black chokeberry can effectively lower the blood sugar level of patients with metabolic syndrome, but it has no effect on healthy people and patients with diseases other than normal blood sugar levels. This targeted hypoglycemic ability makes black chokeberry better as a health food that helps with hypoglycemia.”
Although the high tannin content of raw black chokeberries prevents its excessive intake (resulting in mild side effects, including diarrhea), research has shown that using this herb and its extracts as a supplemental therapeutic food with controlled doses could have significant benefits for the human energy metabolism. blood pressure and immune activity.
Unfortunately, most studies are conducted on black chokeberries in vitro. While in vivo Studies do exist, but they are mainly conducted in mouse or other animal models, with only limited data available from human clinical trials. Nevertheless, emerged from in vitro and mouse in vivo Research has identified these herbs as a treasure trove of medically important functional components. Future research can spotlight these understudied plants as a natural, safe, and cost-effective alternative to a broad spectrum of conventional therapeutic interventions.
- Gao, N., Shu, C., Wang, Y., Tian, J., Lang, Y., Jin, C., Cui, X., Jiang, H., Liu, S., Li, Z ., Chen, W., Xu, H., and Li, B. (2024). Polyphenol components in black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) as clinically proven disease control factors – A review. Nutritional sciences and human well-being, 13(3), 1152-1167, DOI – 10.26599/FSHW.2022.9250096, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453024000090