If you’ve been reading my Health eTips for a while, you know by now that Mother Nature has a remedy for almost anything from skin conditions to mood disorders – be it in flowers like Rhodiola rosea, herbs like Chinese skullcap, or even tree bark.
However, you’ve likely not yet heard of the chokeberry. This funny-sounding fruit is actually a member of the Rose family and it can be found predominantly in Europe and Russia.
Chokeberries have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidant compounds called “polyphenols.” We’ve known for a while that polyphenols protect plants from environmental stressors and disease and that they can have the same effects on the human body.
They can improve blood flow, reduce clots, and boost immunity. They can even help prevent heart disease and may even have cancer-fighting properties!
And now, the latest research shows that the polyphenol-packed chokeberry can also help relieve anxiety and depression.
Researchers found that rats who drank chokeberry juice saw significant improvement in symptoms of depression and mood elevation in just two weeks. They were able to complete swim and maze tests more quickly and with more vigor than the groups of rats who juice without polyphenols or just plain water.
Chokeberry is still largely unknown for its nutritional value, despite being considered a “super fruit” just like more popular acai and goji berries. In fact, people often just plant chokeberry as an ornamental shrub without any intention of eating its fruit.
If only they knew to unlock the incredible antibacterial and antifungal qualities of those dark, purplish black berries!
That’s probably because you wouldn’t want to eat it right off the shrub. Like cranberries, chokeberries are pretty tart (nicknamed the “bitter berry”) unless you cook them. Fortunately, the act of heating berries actually enhances their nutritional value and brings out the polyphenols.
Now, if you decide to cook or bake with chokeberries, keep in mind that any sugary recipe for jam or muffins will likely do more harm than good. So you may have to get a little creative with your culinary skills to find a way of cooking them that doesn’t offset their health benefits.
Or, you can also find chokeberry extract capsules or chokeberry juice at your local health food store or online, where it might be labelled as “Aronia.”Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Reduction of anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors in rats after one month of drinking Aronia melanocarpa berry juice, pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/fo/c6fo00321d#!divAbstract
BLACK CHOKEBERRY Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Ell., plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_arme6.pdf
The impact of different baking conditions on the stability of the extractable polyphenols in muffins enriched by strawberry, sour cherry, raspberry or blackcurrant pomace, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643815302000