Ever come across aronia berries on a summer hike through the woods? You might have—especially if you were hiking in wooded areas of the East coast. Similar in appearance to blueberries, aronias, or chokeberries, are a treat.
The domesticated aronia bush is also known as a black chokeberry bush. It’s often grown in backyards for its beauty. The deep green bush blossoms with delicate white flowers in the spring. In the fall, dark purple berries grow among its changing autumn leaves. The aronia is a hearty shrub. It’s tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and weather patterns. It’s also pest-resistant. No wonder people are adding it to their yards!
But aronia bushes aren’t just a beautiful shrub. Indigenous Americans have long-valued the health benefits of the shrub’s berries. Aronia berries are antioxidant powerhouses.1 Aronia berries contain plenty of vitamin C, vitamin E, and polyphenols. They’re one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can eat.
Antioxidants come in a variety of forms. They include vitamins A, C, E, polyphenols, and selenium. These antioxidants are compounds that have the ability to fight off free radicals.
Why do we need to fight these free radicals off? Well, they contain unpaired electrons. And here’s the thing: electrons like to be paired. When they’re not paired, they become highly reactive and attack human cell components. This attack on cell components is known as “oxidative stress.”
What does that mean for you? Well, oxidative stress is largely responsible for the visible signs of aging.2 This includes hair aging and all that comes with it. Gray hair, dryness, hair loss, or hair growth that slows down significantly are all signs of aging hair.3
The Antioxidant Properties of Aronia Berries
This is where the benefits of aronia berries come in. The antioxidant properties of these berries are able to neutralize free radicals. They either break them down, or provide an extra electron for them to make a pair. This counteracts the effects of oxidative stress on the body.
Antioxidants get used up in their battle against free radicals. So, it’s important to maintain a consistent and adequate supply. That’s why a diet rich in antioxidants is so important.
One of the most powerful antioxidants is vitamin C, and aronia berries have a lot of it. One handful of berries provides about 35 percent of your vitamin C intake a day.4 Vitamin C protects cells against free radicals damage which leads to hair loss or hair follicle irritation. It’s also integral to hair shaft creation.5
And these berries are also plentiful in vitamin E. This potent antioxidant works to combat oxidative stress.6 This vitamin also helps promotes blood circulation. Healthy circulation to the scalp means that hair follicles are getting the red blood cells they need to encourage hair growth.
Speaking of red blood cells – their formation depends on adequate concentrations of folic acid. You know where you can find a good supply of folic acid? Yep. Aronia berries.
How To Grow Aronia:
So, are you ready to reap the benefits of these berries growing in your own backyard? Well, you’re in luck, because the aronia berry bush is a resilient, low-maintenance plant to grow.
- Start with a bush that is about two years old. You can buy the bush at a nursery, or even order the shrub from an aronia berry bush grower online.
- Find a sunny location in your yard. You can grow it in partial shade, but more exposure to the sun means a higher yield of berries.
- Don’t worry too much about what kind of soil you have in your yard. This flexible shrub will grow in moist soils, as well as drier, sandier soils. To grow as many berries as you can, add some compost to the soil as you plan. The shrub will love these nutrients.
- This hearty bush will remain healthy throughout cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. But while it’s young, try to keep moisture consistent. Water once or twice a week, so the plant gets about an inch of moisture. As the plant matures, it will need less water, adapting to whatever Mother Earth provides.
- You can harvest your aronia berries late in the fall. The berries may still taste a bit bitter before the cold weather sets in. Like persimmons, aronia berries tend to sweeten up after one or two freezes.
- During its dormant season, prune the older branches down to the ground. This will help encourage new growth.
How can you cook with it?
Once you’ve harvested some berries, it’s time to eat them! Many gardeners use the berries to make chokeberry juice, smoothies, and jams. They’re also great for baking. Here are a couple of simple recipes to get you started:
Easy Aronia Berry Smoothie
This is a super simple way to get a dose of antioxidants from fresh berries.
30 aronia berries
½ cup apple or orange juice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
Combine ingredients in a blender and blend!
Aronia Berry Pie:
For a sweet autumn treat (that’s packed with antioxidants), try an aronia berry pie.
Pastry for 8 inch pie crust (top and bottom)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 cups aronia berries
2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons lemon juice
¾ cup flour
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a saucepan, melt the butter or margarine. After it’s melted, stir in berries, sugar, and lemon juice. After it’s heated through, stir in flour. Remove from heat and let cool until mixture reaches room temperature. Line pie pan with bottom layer of pastry crust and pour in cooled mixture. Lay second pastry crust on top, and pinch together with bottom crust. Slit several times on top. Cover outer only edges of pie crust with foil. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, removing foil for final 15 minutes. Let cool before serving.
An Antioxidant Powerhouse in Your Own Backyard
These antioxidant-rich berries pack a punch. So if you’ve got a green thumb and you’re looking for a health and hair boost, add this easy-to-grow bush to your yard. You’ll enjoy gorgeous foliage and the fact that you’re adding something super healthy to your diet, too.
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