The profound effect of Aronia on our health

Dr Steve Collins of Aronia Ireland chats to West Cork People about the positive impact of aronia berries on metabolic health due to this superfood’s high levels of polyphenols, which have been proven to prevent disease. A medical doctor and scientist, Steve’s life work has been dedicated to treating and preventing severe starvation and alleviating famine, during which time he has experienced firsthand the power of nutrition to heal or cause disease.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and impaired fasting glucose, that together, raise the risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and dementia.

“Aronia improves core metabolic processes such as glucose metabolism, anti-oxidant protection mechanisms, inflammation and the composition of the microbiome, as well as being anti-bacterial and anti-viral,” explains Steve.

“One of the few things that practically all nutritionists agree on, is that fruit, especially berries, are good for you. Aronia berry has three times the level of polyphenols that blueberries have. In fact, they have the highest level of polyphenol of any fruit or vegetable.” Ideally, we should all be getting between 1500 and 2000 mg of polyphenols per day.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 states that a low fruit intake is the third most important risk factor for all ill health.

“What’s unusual about aronia berry is that the health benefits are well-documented in human trials,” shares Steve.

“They have been shown to decrease the level of blood glucose in people and keep the levels from spiking, which is a really critical aspect of metabolic health and preventing metabolic syndrome and conditions such as diabetes, and one that often goes wrong in the modern diet, which is high in concentrated salts, sugars, emulsifiers and additives.”

One epidemiological study showed that those with a high polyphenol intake had fewer heart attacks and strokes. It also showed a significant reduction in all causes of mortality.

Aronia berry has also been shown to be an effective aid in weight loss, acting on the same receptors in the body that Ozempic, the so-called weight loss wonder drug does, except without any of the side effects or the high price tag.

Ever-increasing levels of inflammation, or so-called ‘Inflammageing’, is a strong risk factor for multiple diseases. Aronia berry can reduce inflammation. “Pro-inflammatory cytokines trigger or heighten inflammation and aronia has been shown to reduce these by 30 per cent, while increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines,” explains Steve.

Aronia may also contribute to a decrease in the damage that occurs as a result of excessive physical activity during competitive sport.

High in antioxidants, incredibly aronia berries can also switch on the production of your body’s own antioxidants.

In recent years, the impact of our gut microbiome on health, from boosting immunity to overcoming depression, has really come to light. Polyphenols, the active ingredients in Aronia, together with increasing fibre intake, are essential for developing those good bugs that we need in our microbiome.

“As well as increasing those beneficial bugs, Aronia has also been shown to help in lining the gut to keep it from leaking,” shares Steve.

Native to North America, the aronia berry was developed into a commercial fruit in Eastern Europe. Steve, who has 35 years experience in the field of nutrition, has in recent years turned his hand to farming and has been growing aronia berry successfully on a West Cork mountain between Bantry and Glengarriff since 2019. “I was looking for something nutritious that would grow well on marginal land,” he explains. Aronia berry ticked all the right boxes and have been producing really good yields on the 54-hectare organic farm. But it’s still early days and, as demand increases, until other Irish farmers start planting, they will have to be imported. “The demand has outgrown my capacity to produce so we import the berries from an organic family farm in Poland.”

Hardy and easy on the environment, with a possible 20-year productive lifespan and a substantial return promised after the first three years, Aronia is an excellent option for West Cork farmers interested in diversifying. As the proven health benefits of this superfood become more widely known, it is inevitable that demand will increase.

Steve puts aronia concentrate in his yogurt and nuts every morning and takes 150 mls of the juice in the afternoon. “I’m over 60 and less creaky and wobbly now than I was five years ago when I started it. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe in it,” shares the doctor.

There are a range of products available under Aronia Ireland’s PhyterBerry brand in the form of capsules, juice, concentrates and powders. All are stocked in local health food shops or available to purchase from

WCP Staff

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