The bright red and deep purple berries have been used by Native Americans for centuries. But now, the chokeberry can be found in the form of dietary supplements in local pharmacies and health food stores.
Chokeberries come in two varieties, the black and the red berries to be more precise. While the red berries are the sweeter options amongst the two varieties, the black variety is seen to be a bit bitter. These fruits are coated with a thick pigment, and are generally harvested in a large number.
Once these fruits are harvested, they are generally refrigerated for storage. However, these fruits can only be stored for 10 days at the max if you want to enjoy the health benefits they hold for you.
Health benefits of choke berries
- Chokeberries are low in calories and fats but are rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber.
- Black chokeberries compose significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Total anthocyanin content in the choke berries is 1480 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, and proanthocyanidin concentration is 664 mg per 100 g. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries on regular basis offers potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
- Laboratory analyses of anthocyanins in chokeberries have identified the following individual chemicals: cyanidin-3-galactoside, quercetin, peonidin, delphinidin, petunidin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, pelargonidin and malvidin. These flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants have proven health benefits through scavenging dangerous oxygen free radicals from the body. Anthocyanins also have a potent anti-inflammatory effect, improve blood sugar and the function of insulin.
- Cancer research on anthocyanins, where black choke berry preparations were first used to inhibit chemically induced cancer in the rat esophagus by 30-60% and of the colon by up to 80%. Effective at both the initiation and promotion/progression stages of tumor development, choke-berries are a practical research tool and hold a promising therapeutic source, since they contain highest amount of anthocyanins among native North American berries.
- They also rich in flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotenes, luteins and zeaxanthins. Zeaxanthin has photo-filtering effects on UV rays and thus protects eyes from age related macular disease in the elderly (ARMD). Chokeberries are also good source of many antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene and folate and minerals like potassium, iron and manganese. 100 g of fresh berries provide about 35% of daily recommended levels of vitamin C.
- The oxygen radical absorbency capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates choke berry with one of the highest values yet recorded -16,062 micro moles of Trolox Equivalents (TE) per 100 g.
- Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture studied the effects of chokeberry extracts on pre-diabetic rats. They found rats that were given the chokeberry extract weighed less, had a lower percentage of body fat, lower blood glucose and reduced levels of plasma triglycerides, cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein. This could make chokeberries an important component in the treatment of diabetes. Authors of the study believe this “provides evidence that the chokeberry extract inhibits weight gain in insulin-resistant animals and that it modulates multiple genes associated with adipose tissue growth, blood glucose regulation, and inflammatory pathways.”
|Some serving tips:Chokeerries are great addition to ice cream tops, and fruit salads. They are also used in juice, cakes, muffins, baby foods and pies.Choke berry syrup has been used in variety of recipes.|
Once these berries are picked, they need proper washing and processing. These berries are then dried and refrigerated for further use. While these can be obtained from the market as well, the refrigerated berries should be consumed within a week to get the best effects out of them.
These berries can be readily juiced, eaten with ice creams, used for baking muffins, and a number of other delicious uses. If you are a fruit lover and at the same time a health conscious person, these chokeberries can be something for you to try out!