Scientists have revealed that the latest ‘superfood’ to throw into your smoothie or porridge is chokeberries.
The fruit, native to North America, is high in health-boosting antioxidants which can help in the fight against disease.
It’s too tart to be eaten in it’s raw form, but Polish scientists found the fruit’s nutrients aren’t damaged when cooked into porridge – unlike some other fruits.
But the berry, which looks similar to a cranberry or blueberry, may be difficult to get hold of in certain parts of the world because of low demand and a small market.
Natural plant food sources are being developed into functional foods – such as breakfast cereals – so they have health benefits beyond normal food products.
The team at the Medical University of Lublin in Poland were interested to see if they could create a corn porridge with chokeberries, also known as aronia berries.
In addition to their high concentration of antioxidants, chokeberries are full of vitamins, such as vitamin C and flavonoids, the team said.
It has previously been called ‘the healthiest fruit in the world’, is believed to have anti-ageing properties, be good for the heart and even work as an aphrodisiac.
The team created porridge with varying contents of chokeberry added, with the highest one containing 20 percent fruit.
The results, published in De Gruyter’s journal, found that increasing the chokeberry fruit content made the breakfast bowl higher in antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and free phenolic acids.
The nutritional properties of the porridge samples did not degrade during the production process, despite the high temperatures used.
This makes it appealing because the antioxidant capacity of some fruits can be significantly diminished by heat or oxidation during processing.
Lead author Anna Oniszczuk said: ‘Due to the high levels of antioxidants in the berry and its resistance to high temperatures during processing, the research highlights how important the berry could be for the production of functional foods such as porridge.’
The best time to eat it would be 10 minutes after making it, as this is when the fruit’s ability to clean up free radicals is highest, the researchers said.
Oniszczuk added: ‘The results of the study demonstrate that extruded porridge enriched with chokeberry fruit have a potential for becoming a good source of natural antioxidants.’
The researchers got their chokeberries from a local farmer in southeastern Poland, where it has long been popular.
But due to the season of growth being very short, starting around September time, they aren’t on supermarket shelves for long.
Melanie Thompson, director at the company, told MailOnline: ‘Due to limited knowledge on the berries, there is limited sales.
‘It’s really one for adding to things because it is an acquired taste. If you add them to a muffin mix, flapjacks or apple juice, it is quite palatable.’