Our Director of Berry Science Melanie Bush spoke with Food Technology Magazine to discuss how supplementing with aronia berry can potentially benefit heart health. Recent studies have shown that 6–8 weeks of aronia supplementation caused a measurable reduction in overall cholesterol and systolic blood pressure with the strongest effect among adults age 50 and older.

Cardiovascular diseases affect nearly half of American adults and are the No. 1 cause of death globally. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), in 2017, coronary heart disease was the leading cause (42.6%) of deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the United States, followed by stroke (17.0%), high blood pressure (10.5%), heart failure (9.4%), diseases of the arteries (2.9%), and other cardiovascular diseases (17.6%) (Virani et al. 2020).

When it comes to heart health, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides are some of the top factors that can increase the risk of heart disease. However, these can be managed through diet, exercise, prescription medicines, and lifestyle changes. Mediterranean and DASH diets are often encouraged for heart-healthy lifestyles. These promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fish as well as limiting sodium, processed meats, and saturated fat.

Here is a look at some of these foods and rising ingredients that research shows may play potential roles in controlling these risk factors and in maintaining heart health.

Aronia Berry

Aronia berry, also known as chokeberry, contains a high concentration of anthocyanins. “The tremendous health benefits, including the heart health benefits observed from supplementing with aronia berry are believed in large part to be due to its loaded polyphenol profile,” states Melanie Bush, chief science officer at Artemis. “Even among other high-antioxidant berries, aronia is particularly high in flavonoids such as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. In several human studies, the benefits were observed after treatment with anthocyanin-standardized aronia extracts.”

Rahmani et al. (2019) demonstrated a significant increase in HDL cholesterol and reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol among subjects supplementing with aronia. They analyzed seven studies in the meta-analysis. A more recent meta-analysis conducted at the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences (manuscript submitted for publication) showed that 6–8 weeks of aronia supplementation caused a measurable reduction in overall cholesterol and systolic blood pressure with the strongest effect among adults age 50 and older, according to Artemis.

Interestingly, aronia supplementation lowered systolic blood pressure but had little effect on diastolic blood pressure. “The fact that systolic blood pressure is reduced, but not diastolic blood pressure, indicates that clinically speaking, aronia is targeting what is most problematic without lowering all blood pressure across the board and potentially disrupting overall health,” explains Bush. “Whereas pharmaceuticals tend to reduce blood pressure all together without discernment, the results of aronia supplementation indicate more of a normalizing effect, which tends to be a trend with high-anthocyanin berries and their ability to support a healthy balance within the body.” Bush adds that while the recent meta-analysis did not make an overall conclusion on recommended dosage, some of the studies that were evaluated as part of the analysis used treatment dosages in the range of 45 mg—60 mg of aronia anthocyanins.

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