Health Benefits of Aronia Berries.

Aronia is a type of shrub native to North America that is now grown in Eastern Europe. “Aronia” generally refers to the berries that grow on the shrub. These aronia berries are also known as chokeberries because of their sharp, mouth-drying effect.

Aronia berries can be eaten fresh on their own or used as an ingredient in foods, such as pies, juices, and tea.

The berries are said to have many health benefits, including anti-cancer properties.

Many of the proposed health benefits of aronia are linked to its high content of nutrients called polyphenols. A 2015 review in Food Technology & Biotechnology noted that previous research had found aronia to have the highest polyphenol content of 143 plants.

In this article, we look at some of the possible health benefits of aronia, along with the evidence for them. We also examine their nutritious content and how they can be included in a diet.

Possible health benefits of aronia

Aronia berry

Aronia berries are also known as chokeberries, and are native to North America.

Anti-cancer effects

2004 study looked at the effects of grape, aronia, and bilberry extracts in preventing the growth of colon cancer.

The study found that while all the extracts inhibited the growth of the cancer cells, aronia had the strongest effect.

2009 study found that an aronia extract helped to reduce cell damage in relation to breast cancer.

The study’s authors concluded that the aronia extract had been shown to have protective qualities in people experiencing breast cancer.

Anti-diabetic effects

Research seems to support the anti-diabetic effects of aronia. A 2015 study in rats found that an aronia extract helped to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation related to diabetes.

2012 study, looking at insulin-resistant rats, found that an aronia extract fought insulin resistance on several levels. This result potentially makes it an effective aid in preventing diabetes from developing.

2016 study found that blood glucose levels and obesity were positively affected by aronia.

Organ health

2016 study looked at the effects of aronia fruit juice in rats with liver damage. Researchers found that the juice reduced the severity and symptoms of the liver damage.

A similar 2017 study also found aronia juice to have protective effects against liver damage in rats. The study’s authors suggested the effect might be due to the antioxidant activity of the aronia.

Another rodent study from 2017 found that aronia juice helped to reduce the severity of symptoms in rats with damaged stomach linings.

The study suggested that, in this case, the benefits of the aronia might be due to it boosting mucus production, as well as its ability to combat oxidative stress.

Artery and blood vessel health

2015 study found that aronia could protect against coronary artery disease. Aronia was thought to protect against the plaque that develops inside the arteries.

Both the aronia and bilberry extracts helped to relax the tissue, which would allow for improved blood flow. This is important, as many cardiovascular diseases result in a hardening of the arteries and reduced ability for the blood vessels to relax. This can also mean that the blood pressure drops.

Out of the three extracts tested, aronia had the most powerful effects. The researchers concluded that the extracts could have significant benefits in treating vascular disease.

2013 study supported these findings. Researchers found that aronia was effective at reducing blood pressure, and might help combat high blood pressure in the arteries.

Nutritional information

The specific nutrient balance of aronia will vary depending on the way it has been grown and prepared, as noted by a review. The review lists factors such as harvest date and where the berries were grown.

Like other berries, aronia is known to be rich in nutrients. Some of the nutritional details suggested by the review include the following:

Vitamins

  • vitamin C: 137–270 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg)
  • folate: 200 micrograms per kilogram (μg/kg)
  • vitamin B-1: 180 μg/kg
  • vitamin B-2: 200 μg/kg
  • vitamin B-6: 280 μg/kg
  • niacin: 3,000 μg/kg
  • pantothenic acid: 2,790 μg/kg
  • tocopherols: 17.1 mg/kg
  • vitamin K: 242 μg/kg

Minerals

  • sodium: 26 mg/kg
  • potassium: 2,180 mg/kg
  • calcium: 322 mg/kg
  • magnesium: 162 mg/kg
  • iron: 9.3 mg/kg
  • zinc: 1.47 mg/kg

All weights are the weight of the berries when fresh.

How to include aronia in your diet

Aronia berry juice

Aronia berries can be added to muffins, cookies, and wine. They can also be juiced.

People can eat aronia berries in many forms, including fresh and juiced.

They can also be used as an ingredient in baked goods and other recipes or taken in extract form via various dietary supplements.

Foods and drinks in which aronia can be used include:

  • muffins
  • pies
  • cookies
  • wine
  • jam
  • tea
  • juices

Possible risks and side effects

Aronia typically has a sharp, mouth-drying quality. This may be unpleasant for some people but is unlikely to present any health risk.

There does not appear to be any well-documented evidence of specific risks or hazards related to consuming aronia, although some people might be allergic to aronia.

Also,

Aronia is a nutrient-dense foodstuff, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, magnesium, iron, and vitamins C, B, and K.

Specific nutrient values will vary depending on the way the aronia is grown and prepared, so each brand should be investigated individually.

Research suggests that aronia may have significant health benefits in terms of combating the growth of certain cancers and the associated damage to the body.

Aronia also appears to have significant positive effects in terms of insulin and improving immune function. These effects may be especially valuable to people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Researchers believe that aronia berries may have protective effects on the liver, as well as helping to reduce symptoms and damage associated with stomach disorders.

Finally, aronia seems to be effective in reducing blood pressure and aiding blood vessel relaxation. Some researchers suggest that it could be a useful tool in treating vascular diseases.

There does not appear to be any well-documented evidence of health risks associated with aronia, though dry mouth is a common side effect of consumption that some might find unpleasant.

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Winter Weight Loss: Sunlight Is A Key Factor…

Despite our best efforts to remain thin, it seems that during the holiday season, we put on a lot of weight. Why is that? A new study has a surprising answer.
woman running in the sun

How much sunlight we get may influence how much weight we lose, suggests new research.

Plenty of us is familiar with the holiday weight phenomenon. But while it is true that during the holidays we’re more exposed to delicious food than the rest of the year, some studies have shown that in winter, we continue to pack on the pounds despite conscious efforts to lose them. Why?

new study — by researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada — reveals an unexpected culprit for winter weight gain: the absence of sunlight.

The researchers, who were led by the auspiciously named Peter Light — from the Alberta Diabetes Institute — examined the effect of sunlight on subcutaneous fat cells, or white fat cells that can be found right beneath our skin.

The results of their investigation make this a breakthrough study, and it was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

How sunlight ‘burns’ fat

Light and team examined the so-called subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT), which, as the authors explain, is the “major fat depot in humans and a central player in regulating whole-body metabolism.”

White fat is known as the “bad” type of fat because it stores calories that are ideally burned for energy.

If dysfunctional, this type of fat can lead to cardiometabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

So, in an attempt to help people with type 1 diabetes, Light and colleagues were working on a way to genetically engineer these white fat cells to produce insulin when exposed to light.

Accidentally, they discovered that scWAT cells tend to shrink under the effect of the sun’s so-called blue light — that is, the visible type of light that boosts attention and mood during the day.

To further test their discovery, the scientists took samples of scWAT from patients undergoing weight loss surgery and examined the effect of the sun’s blue light on the fat cells.

This is what they found:

When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.”

Peter Light

Winter weight gain explained

“If you flip our findings around,” Light says, “the insufficient sunlight exposure we get 8 months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”

“It’s early days, but it’s not a giant leap to suppose that the light that regulates our circadian rhythm, received through our eyes, may also have the same impact through the fat cells near our skin,” he adds.

The findings may pave the way for new weight loss strategies or light-based therapies in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.

However, Light cautions against taking these findings too literally and pursuing sunlight exposure in order to lose weight, as there are still many variables that remain unknown.

“For example,” he explains, “we don’t yet know the intensity and duration of light necessary for this pathway to be activated.”

Additionally, he notes, “[T]here is a lot of literature out there suggesting our current generation will be more overweight than their parents and maybe this feeds into the debate about what is healthy sunshine exposure.”

Either way, this exciting discovery “certainly holds many fascinating clues for our team and others around the world to explore,” Light concludes.

Boost Concentration: Life Hack, 5 Ways To Improve Concentration

In the information overload age, being able to focus and keep your attention on the task at hand can be a struggle. We have compiled some concentration-boosting and distraction-fighting techniques to fire up your capacity to concentrate.
man typing at a computer

Concentrating can sometimes be a challenge, but steps can be taken to enhance your ability to concentrate.

On an average day, Americans are bombarded with an estimated 34 gigabytes of information and 100,500 words. Meanwhile, office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes, while it takes 25 minutes, on average, to get back to the task they were working on before the interruption. It is , therefore, o surprise that our ability to focus is withering due to these endless distractions.

Maintaining attention allows us to construct our internal world in such a way that the thoughts, motivations, and emotions that are the most relevant to our goals will have priority in our brains.

The ability to sustain attention begins at an early age and contributes to success throughout people’s lives. Several factors during childhood and adolescence can enhance or impair the development of skills that enable you to focus for extended periods.

Infants look to their parents for guidance on where to focus their attention, while preschoolers who can concentrate and persist on a task are 50 percent more likely to complete college.

Research has indicated that preschoolers and kindergartners who are farsighted often have a hard time paying attention, which could increase their risk of slipping behind in school.

In adolescents, binge drinking is thought to interrupt normal brain growth in the frontal brain areas that are linked to high-level thoughts, including organization and planning. Heavy alcohol use may, therefore, affect a teenager’s ability to perform in school and sports, and these effects could be long-lasting.

Regardless of upbringing or social and work-based distractions, there are some steps that you can take to harness your brain at its best and channel your focus to complete tasks. Here are Medical News Today‘s tactics to help you improve your concentration quickly and effectively.

1. Get regular ‘green time’

A dose of nature could be just what the doctor ordered when trying to improve your attention span and ability to concentrate.

office with plants

Add some greenery to your office to increase concentration levels in the workplace.

Research suggests that exposure to natural surroundings, including green spaces, may prove beneficial for children’s brain development.

In a study, children aged 4–5 to 7 years of age with more green space around their homes scored better in attention tests. These results underline the importance of expanding green areas in cities to support children’s health and brain development.

Increased concentration from green exposure does not stop during childhood. Research has demonstrated that glancing at greenery can also markedly boost concentration levels and productivity in college and the workplace.

Students were asked to conduct a mundane task and given a 40-second break midway through to view either a bare concrete roof or a flowering meadow green roof. Individuals who glanced at the meadow scene made considerably fewer errors and exhibited superior concentration levels on the remaining half of the task than those who observed the concrete scene.

Another study showed that enriching a bare office with plants increased the productivity of workers by 15 percent. The presence of greenery increased workplace satisfaction perceived air quality and reported levels of concentration.

The researcher’s analysis details that plants may be beneficial because a green office promotes employees’ work engagement by making them more cognitively, emotionally, and physically involved in their work.

You may not have the luxury of a rooftop garden or an office laden with plants, but spending time outside someplace green, or eating your lunch in the park each day, could make a significant difference to your concentration.

2. Take a break

If you are lucky enough to have high working memory capacity, then you should have no problem ignoring distractions and staying focused on tasks. But for the rest of us, tuning out background distractions can be challenging.

Evidence suggests that taking a break from the following distractions could enhance your ability to concentrate.

Email

group of people using devices

Take a vacation from email, cell phone notifications, and social media to boost concentration.

Controlling the times you log in to email — work or personal — and batching messages, among other strategies, could help to boost on-the-job productivity.

study found that people who read emails throughout the day switched screen twice as often and were in an ongoing state of high alert with a constant heart rate. When email was removed from these people for 5 days, their heart rate returned to a natural, variable one.

The authors concluded that taking an email vacation significantly decreases stress and improves concentration and focus.

Cell phone notifications

Whether you are alerted to text or an incoming call by an alarm, vibration, or trendy ringtone, a cell phone notification can distract you enough to impair your ability to concentrate on a task.

In fact, the distraction caused by a notification is just as off-putting as using your cell phone to make calls or send a text message, according to research. A team discovered that while notifications are short in duration, they tend to trigger task-irrelevant thoughts or mind wandering that damages task performance.

The team explained that task performance takes a hit because humans have a limited capacity for attention that needs to be split between tasks. The researchers also emphasized that just being aware of a missed text or call can have the same effect.

If you need to stay on track and focused, it might be worth either turning off your cell phone, setting it to silent, or putting it away somewhere that you cannot see it.

Social media

The curiosity of checking personal social media accounts can often be overwhelming, but research indicates that there are negative consequences when using social media during office hours.

Approximately 2.8 billion people worldwide use social media, and many of those use social media for personal purpose while at work. Using social media during working hours has been revealed to have an adverse effect on self-reported work performance and concentration, and the well-being of the organization.

Fighting the urge to use social media while you need to concentrate may help to improve your productivity and concentration.

Work breaks

Other research demonstrates how to take the best type of break to boost energy, motivation, and concentration. Researchers recommend taking:

  • a mid-morning break to replenish concentration
  • better breaks by doing something you enjoy, which should make your break more restful, provide better recovery, and help you to come back to worked focused
  • frequent short breaks to facilitate recovery

Taking breaks earlier in the day and doing preferred activities lead to better health, job satisfaction, and revival of energy, motivation, and concentration. Workers also experienced fewer headaches, eyestrain, and lower back pain after their break.

3. Rethink your environment

Our environment plays a significant role in how well we are able to concentrate. It is known that by decluttering your home or tidying your desk, your mind also feels more orderly, free, and able to think more clearly.

You can make changes to your environment so that it is favorable for sustaining concentration.

desk with plants and colorful books

Design your own work area to improve your productivity.

Design your own workspace. Whether you have full control over the design of your workspace or can embellish your desk with just a few personal items, having control over our work environment can help to improve productivity.

study compared people who completed a series of tasks in a bare and functional office space, an office decorated with plants and pictures, and an office in which the individual designed the space.

People who were in a space with plants and pictures were 17 percent more productive than those in bare office, while those who designed their own spaces were 32 percent more productive than the workers at a functional desk.

Listen to Baroque classical music. In a study of radiologist’s work lives, it was found that listening to Baroque classical music improved mood and job satisfaction and potentially improved diagnostic efficiency, accuracy, and productivity.

Play natural sounds. If Baroque music is not your thing, playing natural sounds could also benefit concentration. Researchers revealed that playing sounds from nature in the office, such as flowing water, could enhance cognitive abilities and optimize the ability to concentrate.

Inhale rosemary aroma. Research has suggested that exposure to rosemary aroma may improve speed and accuracy of cognitive performance.

4. Try brain training

Problem-solving exercises, brain training methods, and even video games could all have a positive, negative effect, or no effect at all on concentration, depending on which study you read.

person completing a crossword

Frequently doing crosswords could help to improve attention and concentration.

Recent research has indicated that people who often do word puzzles, such as crosswords, have better brain function later in life.

Researchers found direct relationships between how often people used word puzzles and the speed and accuracy of performance on tasks assessing reasoning, memory, and attention.

study has emphasized that it matters what type of brain training you are doing to improve memory and attention. Researchers compared two brain-training methods called “dual n-back” and “complex span.”

Participants who practiced dual n-back demonstrated a 30 percent improvement in their working memory — almost double the gains made by the complex span group.

Dual n-back is a memory sequence test wherein individuals have to remember a sequence of auditory and visual stimuli that are updated continuously.

Playing video games has been shown to cause changes in many regions of the brain. Researchers discovered that video game use altered the brain regions that are responsible for visuospatial skills and attention and made them work more efficiently.

5. Enhance your well-being

Physical activity, dietary choices, and weight are all factors that can contribute to how well you function and your concentration levels. For example, if you skip breakfast, it is unlikely that by lunchtime you will be able to perform tasks to the best of your ability due to hunger pangs.

Looking after your well-being, staying active, and eating concentration-boosting foods can all help toward improving concentration.

Concentration-enhancing foods

To increase your ability to concentrate, you might want to add some walnuts, avocados, and chocolate to your dietary repertoire.

avocados on a wooden board

Avocados may help to enhance cognitive measures, including memory and attention.

Walnuts may improve performance on tests for cognitive function, including those assessing information processing speed, memory, and concentration.

Avocados. Consuming one avocado every day may help improve cognitive function due to an upsurge in lutein levels in the eye and brain. Researchers uncovered that eating an avocado daily enhanced measures of cognitive skills, including processing speed, memory, and attention.

Chocolate — or specifically the cocoa bean — is rich in flavanols, which are compounds that have neuroprotective effects. Cocoa flavanols may help to improve cognitive processing speed, working memory, and attention when ingested for between 5 days and 3 months.

Exercise for concentration

Research has revealed that individuals who practice sport can perform better on cognitive tasks than those with bad physical health. When compared with a group who led a more sedentary lifestyle, the group who were in good physical condition performed better on tasks testing sustained attention.

study of older adults also specified that exercise improved brain function. All participants who exercised for between 75 minutes and 225 minutes per week showed elevated attention levels and an increased ability to focus.

Yoga may significantly improve energy levels and brain function. Investigators found that practicing Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation for 25 minutes per day boosted the regions of the brain associated with goal-directed behavior and allowed participants to focus more easily.

Check your weight

Research unearthed a connection between weight loss and improved memory and concentration.

Researchers say that factors such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes, which often result from obesity, might impair the brain. They suggest that as people get back to a healthy weight and the associated problems disappear, their cognitive issues will vanish, too.

If you have tried all the above and you are still wrestling with your inability to concentrate, grab yourself a large coffee. Caffeine has been shown to affect the alerting and executive control networks of the brain and has clear beneficial effects on concentration and attention.