Photo: Aroniaberry (left) Elderberry (right)
Perhaps the closest berry in comparison to the Aronia Berry is the elderberry. With cold and flu season upon us, the hunt is on for holistic remedies to boost the immune system or shorten the duration and the severity of the illness. Both the Aronia Berry and the elderberry do provide some supplemental benefits to a well balanced diet and help maintain a state of health and wellness. However, there are differences between the two berries and the better option overall appears to be the Aronia Berry for its higher antioxidant benefits.
Though the elderberry is the closest to the Aronia Berry in flavonoids and polyphenols, the antioxidant fighting compounds of the elderberry still don’t quite measure up to Aronia on the USDA Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC Scale. 100 grams of the Elderberry scaled in at 14,697 on the ORAC value scale, while 100 grams of the Aronia Berry scaled in at a whopping 16,062 on the ORAC value scale.
Both the Aronia Berry and the elderberry provide excellent sources of fiber, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. However, the Aronia Berry tops the elderberry as a great source of potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium as well. The Aronia Berry offers a better make up of vitamins and minerals the body needs to maintain optimum health and wellness.
The history of both berries is similar in that, the elderberry was a staple in Native American medicine. It was used to encourage labor, cure headaches, cure fever, and as a diuretic. The Aronia Berry was used by Native American tribes as a supplement in their diet as well as an herbal remedy for colic, scrapes, boosting the immune system and as a treatment for a variety of other health related ailments.
Like the Aronia Berry, the elderberry is grown primarily in North America and Europe. The state of Missouri produces the largest crop of elderberries in the world, while Iowa is the largest producer of Aronia Berries in the United States, and Poland the largest overall producer of Aronia Berries in the world.
The branches, leaves, and twigs of the elderberry contain trace elements of cyanide making them unfit for human consumption. The branches, leaves and twigs of the Aronia Berry, on the other hand, are edible and have been used in teas and even in some concentrates for their rich antioxidant benefits.
Side effects of the elderberry can occur with immunosuppressant drugs and autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis. Elderberry can cause the immune system to become more active thereby increasing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Elderberries are known to act as diuretics and not recommended for people with kidney issues. Elderberries are also not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers and can exacerbate reactions in people allergic to honeysuckle. In preliminary studies being done at this time, there have been no known side effects from taking the Aronia Berry.
With the coming cold and flu season and the push for more holistic home remedies to give a boost to the immune system, both the Aronia Berry and the elderberry may offer some form of supplemental assistance. However, given the comparison of the two, my money is still on the Aronia Berry for the a higher boost in antioxidant elements, and while the two berries have their similarities, there’s still no denying the health and wellness benefits inherent in the “power of purple”.