Sunday, June 10, 2012

Antioxidants and the black chokeberry

Antioxidants, or molecules that inhibit other molecules from oxidizing, have been a hyped-up health topic for the past several years. Ads for products containing blueberries, acai, pomegranate and other antioxidant-rich foods are everywhere, from television to magazines to the internet.

The message on most of these advertisements is simple: "Buy this product because it has antioxidants, and antioxidants are good for you."

But how true is it? The cause of this antioxidant craze dates back to the 1990s, according to a publication by Harvard's School of Public Health:

"Antioxidants came to public attention in the 1990s, when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis and may contribute to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. Some studies showed that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing these chronic conditions than were people who ate plenty of these fruits and vegetables."

The publication goes on to conclude that despite the rampant claims to the contrary by food and pharmaceutical companies, there is very little scientific evidence linking greater antioxidant consumption with the prevention of various types of diseases.

One thing we do know, however, is that people who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables, which contain a high amount of antioxidants, are more resistant to various types of diseases than those who don't eat as much.

One plant that has seen a lot of attention recently thanks to the frenzy over antioxidants is Aronia melanocarpa, better known as the black chokeberry. The black chokeberry is a lovely shrub that sports white flowers and small, black fruit that has some of the highest antioxidant counts found in nature.

Black chokeberry jam
The berries are edible but have a very astringent taste when eaten raw, hence the plant's name. The berries' flavor improves drastically when they're prepared as a jam, spread, juice, or in any other popular culinary rendition.

Whispering Hills carries two kinds of black chokeberry this season: the Black Viking and Black Iroquois Beauty. Both will produce high yields of the delicious berries for you and the songbirds to enjoy, as well as provide a nice-looking hedge for your landscape.

Though new research is still in the process of confirming the radical health benefits of antioxidants, it is well-known that a good supply of them from chokeberries and other dark-colored berries is an important part of any diet.

Get your antioxidants from your backyard. Try the chokeberry!

 For more reliable information on antioxidants, check out this article published by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.