Aronia Plants Health Perspectives for Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Anti-Cancer Properties

Aronia black berries are used mainly for healthy juice, jam, and wine production, as well as an ornamental plant. Modern pharmacological research presents aronia black berry melanocarpa as a plant with numerous health-promoting activities. Biological activities of anthocyanin-rich chokeberry fruit extracts include anti oxidative, anti mutagenic, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic and anti hyperglycemic, among others. Initially used by Native Americans for treatment of colds, the plant became more popular after it had been introduced to Russia and Eastern European black health  countries as a crop plant in the early 20th century. Traditional use of the black chokeberry as an antihypertensive drug in Russian herbal medicine was supported by modern pharmacological research. Because of their health promoting effects, aronia black berry extracts may constitute a valuable dietary supplement for people with risk factors of cardiovascular diseases or metabolic syndrome. Moreover, regular consumption of black chokeberry products, considering their high antioxidant and anti mutagenic potential, may exert some long-term effects such as cancer prevention. The two most popular aronia plants for fruit production are Viking and Nero.

Anti-diabetic activity
Anti-diabetic activity was established for fruit as well as for leaf extracts of aronia black berry, has been experimentally demonstrated in animals. Beside animal models, the anti diabetic activity of aronia black berry juice was demonstrated in patients with diabetes mellitus. It was shown that daily ingestion of 200 mL or 0.85 cups (1 cup = 250 ml) of sugar-free black chokeberry juice over a 3-month period resulted in substantially lower fasting blood glucose levels in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes compared to the control group. (Note sugar-free black chokeberry juice can be sweetened using stevia). The results indicate that supplementation of the diet with aronia juice may exert beneficial supporting effects for diabetic patients.

Oxygen radical absorbing capacity
A comparative study using the oxygen radical absorbing capacity assay showed that acetone extracts from black chokeberries exhibit stronger antioxidant activity than those obtained from blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) (over five times), cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) (over eight times), and lingonberries (Vaccinium vitisidaea) (over four times). Other experiments, based on 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging ability, demonstrated that aronia black berry methanolic extracts have greater antioxidant potential than blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), and strawberry (Fragaria anannassa).

Experimental results show that black chokeberry can be used not only as a coloring agent, but also as an effective antioxidant, protecting a-tocopherol and unsaturated lipids in food products. The antioxidant potential of aronia black berry has been demonstrated in vitro, as well as in numerous in vivo models, where it often combined with other pharmacological activities. Among other effects, the role of black chokeberry extracts serves in the reduction of oxidative stress.

Anticancer properties
Anticancer properties of black chokeberry extract against the HT29 cell line were confirmed, as it significantly (>60%) inhibited the growth of above-mentioned colon cancer cells at G1=G0 and G2=M phases during a 24-hour exposure.

In an in vivo experiment in rats, ingestion of chokeberry extracts resulted in significant inhibition of azoxymethane induced aberrant crypt foci (a colon cancer biomarker) formation in colonic cells, confirming the chemo-preventive potential of aronia black berry anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins from aronia black berry berries exhibit anti mutagenic activity in vitro, which can be attributed to their free radical scavenging properties, as well as inhibition of enzymes that are responsible for pro mutagen activation.

Cardioprotective activity
The broadly understood cardioprotective activity of aronia black berry can be attributed to lipid-lowering, anti aggregative, and direct vasoactive action of its anthocyaninrich extracts. It should also be mentioned that black chokeberry fruits contain significant amounts of niacin, the beneficial effects of which in cardiovascular diseases, especially in terms of lipid-lowering activity, are well-recognized. As a result, the observed effects of aronia black berry juice may be attributed to the presence of anthocyanins, as well as niacin.

Beneficial effects of aronia black berry on blood lipid concentration have been observed in hypercholesterolemic patients receiving black chokeberry anthocyanins in the form of juice or dry extracts. It was shown that regular (>6 weeks) drinking of Aronia juice significantly lowered TC, LDL-chol, and TG blood levels and increased the HDL-chol concentration in patients with mild hypercholesterolemia and without pharmacological treatment. In another study, 2-month supplementation of the diet with Aronia extracts resulted in significantly lowered TC, LDL-chol, TG, and endothelin-1 levels in patients with metabolic syndrome

It has been shown that black chokeberry extracts significantly influenced human platelet functions in vitro. Platelet superoxide production was substantially increased in patients with cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, and diabetes); treatment of platelets with aronia black berry extract caused a significant decrease in superoxide level in patients with cardiovascular risk, whereas no effect was observed in the case of the control group. Supplementing the diet with aronia black berry anthocyanins for 30 days caused noticeable improvement of oxidative status in blood cells of patients with hypercholesterolemia. Black chokeberry extracts also significantly reduced oxidative stress, manifested by increased levels of auto antibodies to oxidized low-density lipoproteins, in individuals with other metabolic problems

Anti-ulcerative activity
Anti-ulcerative activity of aronia black berry anthocyanin fractions was established in vivo studies in rats with ethanol-induced gastric hemorrhagic damage. Like in another experiment, the observed effects can be attributed to oxidative stress reduction and free radical scavenging activity of black chokeberry anthocyanins.

At present, Aronia black berries are used mainly for healthy juice, jam, and wine production, as well as an ornamental plant. Among other substances, the berries of the aronia black berry plant contain anthocyanins and procyanidins, possessing strong antioxidative potential. Numerous health-promoting activities-namely, antioxidative, antimutagenic, anticancer, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, gastroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, radioprotective, and immunomodulatory-have been demonstrated for black chokeberry extracts by both in vitro and in vivo studies.



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