Elderberry is amongst the most commonly used medicinal plants. It is a fruit of the Sambucus tree.
It used to treat infections, heal burns, and improve complexion. It contains antioxidants that can help treat cold and flu symptoms.
The Nutritional Content Of Elderberry
Elderberries are low-calorie, nutrients rich and packed with antioxidants.
100 grams of fresh elderberries contain 73 calories, 18.4 grams of carbohydrates and less than one gram of fats and proteins (10).
Elderberries serve the body with various nutritional benefits. They are:
- Rich in vitamin C
- High in dietary fiber
- A rich source of phenolic acids
- A good source of flavonols
- Rich in anthocyanins
The exact nutritional composition depends on the variety of plants and the ripeness of the berries and the environmental and climatic conditions.
5 Health Benefits Of Elderberry
Health Benefits are:
Fights Cold And Flu
It comes in various forms including liquid, capsules, lozenges, and gummies.
A study done on 60 people with influenza, found that those given elderberries showed improvement in symptoms 2-4 days earlier than those who did not take it (2).
Another study found that 175 mg of elderberry lozenges taken for two days improved the flu symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, and nasal congestion in about just 24 hours.
Another controlled trial was performed to see whether the elderberry could prevent cold-like symptoms after traveling on an airplane. It was found that elderberry could not prevent the occurrence but could reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Elderberry contains a high level of flavonoids, which makes it rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
This helps in protecting the healthy cells from harmful free radicals which can lead to various skin problems.
Using elderberry face wash can help fight acne because of its antiseptic effects (3).
Good for Heart Health
Elderberry is known to have positive effects on some markers of heart and blood vessels.
It lowers the level of fat in blood and decreases cholesterol levels. Also, being rich in flavonoids, has found to reduce the risk of heart disease.
It works on blood sugar by inhibiting the enzyme alpha-glucosidase and this may help lower the blood sugar levels (6).
Most of the studies, to know the significance of elderberry to improve heart health have been done on animals. More researches are needed to see their confirmed effects on humans.
High Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants are the natural food components including vitamins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, which are able to remove the reactive molecules which are released during metabolism and are responsible for oxidative stress.
A diet rich in antioxidants may help prevent many chronic diseases (7).
A study done on different berries found elderberry to be the most effective amongst the others (8).
Processing of elderberries such as extraction, heating, or juicing can reduce the antioxidant activity. Therefore, products such as jams, juices, jellies, and teas have reduced benefits.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin A content which makes them helpful in delaying the appearance of age spots and preventing or reducing wrinkles.
How To Use Elderberry?
Never eat elderberry raw as they can be poisonous. Their syrup can be made easily, which can be healthy for consumption.
Remove the stalk of the elderberry. Cook the berries in water and sugar. Stain it and then boil the liquid until it takes a syrup-like consistency.
The syrup can be drizzled over plain yogurt or can also be added to a smoothie.
Health Risks and Side Effects of Elderberry
Along with the benefits, there are some health risks associated with these berries.
The bark, unripe berries, and seeds contain a small amount of lecithin which may cause stomach problems if eaten too much. Moreover, the elderberry plant contains a substance called cyanogenic glycosides which can release cyanide in some circumstances.
Elderberry is not recommended for children and adolescents below 18 years of age.
Elderberry has been in use for many years for its potential health-boosting properties. Its most notable effect is in fighting the cold and flu symptoms.
Few studies appear to support these claims and further research is needed to investigate the health benefits.