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Elderberry Benefits: Nutritional Fact & Potential Risk In 2023
There are many different types of medicinal plants that have been in use for centuries and continue to be quite beneficial. Among the most commonly used medicinal plants in folk medicine is the elderberry plant.
The ancient Egyptians, for instance, would use elderberry as a beauty product. This was a good plant to use when treating burns or improving complexion. On the other hand, the indigenous people used elderberry to treat illnesses such as rheumatism.
Many different cultures have been using elderberry when they have fevers and colds. It worked as a folk medicine for various health conditions. But, one has to be careful as the entire plant is not good for human consumption.
It’s worth noting that parts of the elderberry plant are poisonous. Always avoid fresh berries, leaves, and bark. If ingested, they can lead to abdominal pain. You want to use the ripe fruit and flowers of the elderberry therapeutically. In this article, you learn about elderberry’s health benefits and any consumption risks.
8 Amazing Health Benefits Of Elderberry
- Lessen cold and flu symptoms
- Excellent source of antioxidants
- May improve heart health
- Improve blood sugar levels
- Boost immune system
- May fight harmful bacteria
- Relieve constipation
- Improves skin health
Elderberry Benefits For Health
There are different varieties of elderberry in the world. One of the most common is the European Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), also known as Black Elder. It’s originally from Europe but is now cultivated in many parts of the world.
Other elderberry varieties include the Antelope Brush, American Elder, Red-fruited Elder, and Blue Elderberry. All these varieties have been used for centuries for cooking or medicinal purposes.
The European Elderberry is a tree that can reach 30 feet in height. During the blooming season, Sambucus nigra produces clusters of white elderflowers. Apart from flowers, this tree produces blue-black and blackberries. These aren’t sweet berries and must be cooked before you eat them.
When it comes to health, the elderberry benefits list is long. These health benefits include:
Lessen Cold And Flu Symptoms
Cold and flu symptoms are the worst. This is why people have been using elderberry infusions to lessen cold and flu symptoms. For example, extracts of Black Elderberry or Sambucus nigra can lessen the Influenza’s duration.
However, many different elderberry supplements are available today for the same purpose. These come in the form of gummies, capsules, and liquids.
A study done in 2004 had 60 participants with the flu. Some took 15 milliliters (mL) of elderberry syrup four times daily and showed improvement after two to four days. The control group took seven to eight days to find relief from flu symptoms.
Another study featured 312 air travelers who took 300 milligrams, or mg, of elderberry extract in capsule form to help with air sickness. They reported experiencing less sickness and symptoms while traveling.
Excellent Source Of Antioxidants
One issue that many people face is oxidative stress. This occurs due to metabolism, where reactive molecules are released in the body. If left unchecked, oxidative stress can lead to illnesses such as cancer.
Studies show that eating foods that are rich in antioxidants can help prevent chronic health conditions. Antioxidants help eliminate the reactive molecules from the body. Thankfully, elderberry is a great source of beneficial antioxidants.
Elderberry trees have a high concentration of antioxidants in the leaves, flowers, and fruits. Elderberry juice squeezed from the fruits contains a high concentration of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are blue or red-colored flavonoid-like pigments found in plants. These are good for your health since they contain antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-diabetic properties and can also improve heart health.
May Improve Heart Health
One way that elderberry fruit extract improves heart health is by reducing fat content in the blood. This lowers the level of cholesterol responsible for poor heart health. Plus, the high flavonoid levels in elderberry are good for preventing heart health issues. Flavonoids are plant pigments with a high antioxidant activity level.
A study was done involving 34 people with high cholesterol levels. Each took 400 mg of elderberry extract thrice a day for 14 days, and the results indicated no significant reduction in cholesterol levels.
Another study involving mice with high cholesterol levels was done. The results showed that eating a diet with Black Elderberry did reduce the amount of cholesterol in the aorta. The findings concluded that elderberry might influence high-density lipoprotein (HDL) dysfunction associated with inflammation, thus improving the cardiac metabolic profile. Atherogenic progression was reduced in the study animals.
Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Erratic blood sugar levels can affect your health and well-being. However, Black Elderberry has been known to increase insulin secretion in the body. This leads to better blood sugar control. If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to manage blood sugar levels.
An animal study showed that elderberry flowers could help lower blood sugar levels in the body. This is largely due to the inhibition of the alpha-glucosidase enzyme. A human study revealed the anti-diabetic properties of the elderberry in the uptake of fatty acids and glucose into skeletal muscle, reinforcing the animal study’s results.
Boost Immune System
A study on rats showed that elderberry extract could help boost immune defense by warding off virus infections. This was due to an increase in white blood cells. Thus, elderberry polyphenols can be beneficial when it comes to immune system support. A recent 2022 study found immune-enhancing polysaccharides in the elderberry that may benefit the immune system.
May Fight Harmful Bacteria
Consuming elderberry can help the body fight off harmful bacteria. A good example is elderberry can inhibit the growth of H. pylori. It can also alleviate bronchitis symptoms, acting as an overall immune system enhancer.
A 2021 excerpt from Pharmacy Today identified elderberry as effective in treating constipation. Elderberry is good for gut health since it contains laxative properties that help ease constipation. It’s been used as a constipation treatment for centuries.
Laxative properties are quite beneficial to digestive health. Foods rich in them enable regular bowel movements by loosening stool. The good news is that many foods, like elderberry, contain natural laxatives.
Improves Skin Health
There are elderberry benefits for skin health. This is possible because elderberry helps the skin balance excess oils. As a result, you experience fewer breakouts and enjoy clearer skin.
Elderberry is a great option for folks with oily skin and can help lessen the effects of inflammation and aging. Still, there’s a need for further research to show the benefits of elderberry on skin health and photoaging.
Have you come across skin care products that contain elderberry? These are great to use since elderberry extract provides protection against harmful UV rays. Basically, the elderberry extract contains SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 9.88. SPF measures how well a product will protect your skin when you experience continuous sun exposure.
Elderberry Nutritional Facts
Taking natural elderberry syrup benefits or supplements is great since elderberry has a high nutritional value. There are only 106 calories in one cup of elderberries. The same amount contains one gram of protein and 26.7 grams of carbohydrates.
Elderberries also contain a high amount of vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin C: Elderberries are a great source of Vitamin C. One cup of elderberries contains 52 milligrams of Vitamin C. This accounts for 52% of the amount you need each day.
- Dietary Fiber: One cup of elderberries contains 10 grams of fiber. This accounts for 36% of the amount you need each day.
- Minerals: A cup of elderberries contains several minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, and copper.
Health Risks Of Elderberry
Many elderberry tea benefits can help improve health. However, there are health risks of elderberry juice worth noting.
One of the main issues of consuming elderberry extract is stomach pain. This happens by consuming the elderberry tree’s seeds, berries, and bark.
Another issue that you can experience from consuming elderberry is cyanide poisoning. Cyanide is a natural toxin from cyanogenic glycosides. These are found in the elderberry plant, almonds, and apricot seeds, making them highly poisonous.
One hundred grams of raw elderberries contain 3 mg of cyanide, while the same amount of fresh Elderberry leaves contain 3 to 17 mg of cyanide.
One way to remove cyanide from elderberries is by commercial processing or cooking. This is why there are no recorded fatalities from cooked berries. Still, it’s safer to avoid using the elderberry tree’s leaves, branches, and bark for juicing or cooking.
Elderberry juice is quite popular, but the raw ingredients can lead to these symptoms. It’s important to note this even when assessing the benefits of elderberry juice.
When picking elderberry flowers or berries, always note the type of tree. The right trees, in this case, are European and American elderberry. Other types of elderberry trees are toxic, and it’s best to skip them.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Elderberry?
It’s recommended that only adults eat elderberry. Children and teens under 18 shouldn’t consume the products or extracts of this plant. Pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid elderberry supplementation.
There’s not enough data to indicate that elderberry is safe for this population to consume. So, as much as Elderberry wine benefits, it’s better to wait until you give birth and finish breastfeeding the baby.
How To Consume?
There are many ways to consume elderberry. Some people prefer to take elderberry syrup instead of cough syrup to treat cold and flu symptoms.
In addition, you can benefit from an antioxidant boost by consuming powder containing elderberry or supplement. Elderberry supplements come in capsule form that you take daily or as per instructions.
Berries from the elderberry tree are a good food source. It’s advisable to pick and cook them before consuming them. Many people love using berries in pies and when making jams.
Elderberry benefits have been around for centuries. Many cultures still consume Elderberry for medicinal purposes. This is because wild elderberry contains lots of nutritional value, especially antioxidants.
However, there’s a need for more extensive research to ascertain the health benefits and safety profile of consuming elderberry. Also, there are some risks worth noting when consuming elderberry extract. It’s not recommended for children under 18 and pregnant or lactating mothers.
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