Much has been written and said lately about superfruits and superberries – in particular about their high levels of antioxidants. One of those superfruits is considerably rich in these substances. Time to have a closer look at our object of interest – ARONIA MELANOCARPA, also known as black chokeberry.

A Long History of Use for Better Health

What better reference can the chokeberry state than to have traditionally been used by the Potawatomi Native Americans to cure colds. North American settlers also came to learn about the secrets of the tiny wonderberry and used it as an astringent. In the 20th century, chokeberries were introduced in eastern European countries and are nowadays used for juice, jam, wine, jelly and liqueur. The berries are also used in soft drinks and as food coloring. The pharmaceutical industry has discovered the benefits of aronia too, and uses it in syrups and dietary supplements. Some animals too seem to guess the healthy effects of aronia. US scientists have found that migratory birds tend to increase the share of superfruits in their diet prior to starting their long flights.

The Picture of Health

The shrub develops many branches and is extremely fertile. The berries are round and grow in bunches up to a size of six to thirteen millimeters. Actually, they look like a cluster of tiny violet-black apples. Unlike other plants grown in plantations nowadays, the chokeberry is easy to care for and thrives on lean ground, which proves rather helpful when cultivating it. It even survives frosty winters and is resistant to a number of fungal and pest infestations.

A Natural Power Plant with a Scientific Background

Its long tradition of use for health purposes already suggests that chokeberries contain many valuable ingredients. With our modern analysis methods, we can prove what our ancestors may have just guessed at. The deep dark-blue color is a valid indicator for a highly potent main group of biologically active constituents, namely anthocyanins. Aronia melanocarpa actually contains some of the highest amounts of anthocyanins and procyanidins of red and blue berries. Anthocyanins are said to protect the body against free radicals and other unstable molecules and to have immune-boosting properties. They also may help to inhibit arteriosclerosis, protect the cardiovascular system, fight inflammation and have beneficial effects in patients with diabetes mellitus. These effects have been explored in in vitro and in vivo studies. Chokeberries also contain valuable vitamins, for example vitamins B1, B2, B6, and vitamin C and minerals, like potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium..

Consumers Want it all Functional

But why do functional substances, such as those in Aronia melanocarpa, enjoy such surging popularity? Consumers are increasingly taking responsibility for themselves. This goes hand in hand with a rise in health awareness, which has led to new emerging needs. At the same time, people struggle with a busier lifestyle on one hand and meeting healthy nutritional requirements on the other. That is one reason why they are increasingly looking for personalized, individual solutions matching their lifestyles. Consumers have therefore also started to widely accept functional food, food supplements and healthy products, which are now commonly available, and they have high expectations of them. For instance, they want their functional foods to contain natural ingredients and nutrients from reliable and sustainable sources.

A Healthy Choice

In order to offer its customers and consumers concepts that exactly fulfill these needs, Symrise has developed a series of botanical extracts and has consolidated them under its Actiplants® brand. There are two product variants available containing the Aronia melanocarpa extract: Actiplants® Aronia and Actiplants® Immune Aronia. Actiplants® Aronia is a pure botanical extract, which contains a large amount of anthocyanins. Their beneficial effects have been widely described in the scientific literature. Actiplants® Immune Aronia offers additional value by combining Actiplants® Aronia with vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin proven by the EFSA to support the immune system.

Kaden Biochemicals, a member of the Symrise Group, purchases cultivated aronia berries directly from suppliers in Eastern Europe and processes them at its plant in Hamburg, Germany. An elaborate process of extraction, multiple distillation and concentration is carried out to obtain the functional ingredients. This results in a final product that is standardized to a minimum content of 15% anthocyanidins with an ORAChydro value of 7.300 μmol (TE/g). Furthermore, the production site in Hamburg has recently been inspected by the FDA and is now recognized as a dietary supplement ingredient supplier.

“A lot of technical knowledge and experience is required to offer reliably standardized botanical products,” says Dr. Sonja Frank, Manager Scientific Marketing Consumer Health at Symrise. “We are using our knowledge to meet the demands of our customers and consumers for products with added health value and to create exactly the products they want. For this purpose, we offer a wide range of botanical extracts and are constantly searching to find new additions for our Actiplants® range in the future. This will help to broaden our position as a producer of functional ingredients.”

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