Supplementation with aronia – in the form of aronia juice from the supermarket – keeps cholesterol balance and the walls of the blood vessels young as we age. Bulgarian researchers at the University of Plovdiv reached this conclusion after doing an animal study that was published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Aronia berries contain enormous amounts of polyphenols. As a result of this, their taste is not what we’d describe as optimal – but the expectations surrounding their health-promoting effects are high.
One litre of aronia berry juice contains for example almost 5 g polyphenols, 4 g of which consist of proanthocyanins. The two most common polyphenols in aronia juice are the hydroxyciannamates neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid.
The researchers wanted to know whether they would be able to show the anti-ageing effects of aronia juice. They bought a couple of bottles of aronia juice from the Bulgarian company Vitanea, and gave them to the older rats. By the way, Vitanea did not sponsor the subject. The researchers were funded by the Bulgarian government.
For three months the researchers gave 10-month old [i.e. adult] lab rats for three months [lab rats have a life expectancy of about two years] 64 ml aronia juice per kg bodyweight. The human equivalent of this dose for an adult would be about 700 ml per day. And that’s a lot.
At the end of the three months the researchers analysed the rats’ blood [A], and compared it with blood from rats of the same age [CO] and with that of young rats that were a couple of months old [CY] and had not been given aronia juice.
The old rats in the CO group had more ‘bad’ cholesterol LDL in their blood than the young rats did. A high LDL level is still regarded as one of the most important predictors of cardiovascular disease that we know.
When the researchers studied the aorta – a crucial artery near the heart – they saw that the blood vessel walls of the A group were in a better state than those of the CO group.
So, in this study, aging resulted in a declining cholesterol balance and quality of the blood vessel walls; but aronia supplementation partially reversed this decline.
“The importance of the present study is associated with a potential application of its findings in human nutrition and preventive medicine”, the researchers write. “Its results indicate that Aronia melanocarpa juice improves lipid profile of supplemented animals and slows down the age-related changes in the aortic wall.”
“The analysis of the atherogenic and cardioprotective indices definitely confirms that chokeberry juice has antiatherogenic and cardioprotective effects and can be recommended as a prophylactic means for healthy aging.”