Elderberries, harvested from the native Sambucus elder tree, have been used as a source of medicine and nutrition for thousands of years.
Elderberry juices, pies, and jams are popular today, and the berries can even be fermented to make wine. While more research is necessary, many people swear by the potential health benefits of elderberries and use elderberry tablets or syrup to enhance their immune systems and fight common illnesses.
Read on to know more about the health benefits of elderberries.
Health Benefits of Elderberry
Aside from the medicinal benefits, elderberries are low in calories and high in minerals and vitamins, making them a nutritional double-bonus.
Elderberries have a little more than 100 calories per cup, with 27 grams of carbohydrates, one gram of protein, and one gram of fat. Even better, it has a healthy dose of antioxidants, a massive 10 grams of dietary fiber, and 52 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 87 percent of your daily requirement.
All of this adds up to a very outstanding nutritional profile. While you shouldn’t eat elderberries at all hours of the day or night, they can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet.
May Aid in Constipation
Constipation can be relieved by drinking tea made from dried elderberries. Anthraquinone, a compound found in elderberry, is responsible for the laxative effect.
Anthraquinone, also contained in senna and rhubarb, prevents water from being absorbed in the intestines. This raises the pressure inside the intestine, causing muscle spasms (peristalsis) to help with bowel passage.
Although there is little medical research on the laxative qualities of elderberry, it seems safe when taken for up to five days.
Could Reduce the Risk of Diabetes and Improve Heart Health
Elderberries may assist in improving heart health because they are high in three forms of flavanols, which are naturally occurring chemicals in plants with antioxidant characteristics. Flavanol has been related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in several studies. Elderberries have also been found in studies to lower cholesterol, cut fat levels in the blood, and enhance blood sugar levels.
The benefits of elderberries on chronic disorders are still being studied, and the results are sometimes conflicting. Many studies on elderberries have only been done on rats; therefore, further human study is needed.
May Help Fight Colds and the Flu
Given its nutritional content, it’s no surprise that elderberry is used to treat inflammation and boost immunity.
Participants who took elderberry syrup found relief from their flu symptoms four days sooner than those who took a placebo, based on a study released by the US National Library of Medicine. An analysis of 312 air travelers published in the NLB found that unwell individuals took a 900 mg elderberry extract capsule three times a day. They recovered faster and had less severe flu and cold symptoms.
So, how effective is elderberry? While the results of these short studies are intriguing, researchers believe that larger-scale studies are needed to validate elderberry’s involvement in treating or preventing the common cold or influenza.
Other Benefits of Elderberries
Other claims concerning the health advantages of eating elderberries exist. The following are some of the possible benefits:
- Less fatigue
- Reduced toothache pain
- Aid in weight loss
- Diminished nerve pain
- Help in treating HIV/AIDS
- Eased gingivitis
- Relief from hay fever
- Lower cancer risk
Dietary fiber (10.2 grams per cup) and vitamin C (52.2 milligrams per cup) are abundant in elderberries. A cup of elderberries also contains the following nutrients:
- 1 gram of protein
- 0.7 grams of fat
- 26.7 grams of carbs
Elderberries are antioxidants, and scientists believe the chemical that gives it its blue color helps to reduce inflammation.
Can Elderberries Be Dangerous?
The elder plant’s leaves, bark, and roots, and also uncooked elderberries can be hazardous. These plant parts include lectins, a type of protein that could upset your stomach. They even contain bitter components that can cause cyanide in some cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1983, eight persons were hospitalized after drinking homemade elderberry juice. Per an investigation, the juice was prepared by crushing raw elderberries, stems, and leaves in a juice press. Those who consumed the most elderberry juice got sick the most.
It’s worth noting that most elderberry poisoning cases were caused by raw intake and poor home cooking. Elderberry teas, tablets, and other products found at supermarkets and pharmacies are probably safe. Before changing your diet, always consult your doctor about any form of nutritional supplement.
Do you own a flock of backyard hens? Click here to know more about the safety of elderberries for chickens.
Possible Side Effects
If taken in moderation, ripe, cooked elderberry fruit is deemed safe. Elderberries’ laxative properties may cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and stomach discomfort if consumed in excess. Only dried or ripe elderberries should be utilized for medicinal purposes.
The elderberry plant contains cyanogenic glycoside, a form of toxin found in the leaves, stems, roots, and bark. Even unripe berries carry trace levels of this, which can cause cyanide poisoning if chewed. Elderberries must be prepared before eating since they can make you sick if eaten raw.
Elderberry poisoning is rarely fatal, but it can induce nausea, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness, dizziness, and abdominal distention. If you have displayed these symptoms after taking unripe fruit or elderberry extract, see your doctor.
Nursing moms, pregnant women, and children should avoid elderberry. While there have been no documented adverse events in these groups, there is insufficient data to confirm that it’s safe in the long run.