Delicious Elderberry: Exploring the Nutrition and Health Benefits
What is Elderberry?
A tiny, deep purple fruit that grows on the European or black elder tree is the elderberry, known by its scientific name Sambucus nigra.Other names may include elderflower, black elder, European elder, and Sambucus. Due to its many health advantages, elderberry, a native of Europe and North America, has recently experienced substantial growth in popularity. It belongs to the family Adoxaceae. The most popular way to use it is as a supplement to relieve flu and cold symptoms.
This article discusses elderberries’ nutritional value, health advantages, side effects, how to choose them, safety concerns, hazards, and possible drug interactions.
Nutrition in Elderberry
Elderberries are known for their rich nutritional profile. One cup or 145 grams of raw elderberries contain:
- Water – 116 g
- Calories – 106 kcal
- Carbohydrates – 26.7 g (including fiber and sugar)
- Fiber – 10.2 g
- Protein – 0.96 g
- Fat – 0.73 g
- Potassium – 406 mg
- Phosphorus – 56.6 mg
- Calcium – 55 mg
- Sodium – 8.7 mg
- Magnesium – 7.25 mg
- Iron – 2.32 mg
- Selenium – 0.87 µg
- Zinc – 0.16 mg
- Copper – 0.088 mg
- Vitamin C – 52 mg
- Niacin – 0.725 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 0.334 mg
- Pantothenic acid – 0.203 mg
- Thiamin – 0.102 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.087 mg
- Vitamin A – 870 IU
- Folate – 8.7 µg
Health benefits of Elderberry
Elderberries are full of potent antioxidants and essential nutrients that have many health benefits, as follows:
- Provides goodness of nutrients
- Boosts the immune system
- Relieves cold and flu
- Supports heart health
- Enhances digestive health
- Fights inflammation
High in nutrients
Elderberries are also low in sodium and cholesterol. Furthermore, elderberries are loaded with essential vitamins, including vitamin A, B6, C and E
- Vitamin C – is a potent antioxidant that helps strengthen the immune system, supports collagen production, and aids in iron absorption.
- Vitamin A – promotes healthy vision.
- Vitamin B6 – helps brain develop and function properly.
- Vitamin E – is a strong antioxidant guards against free radical-induced oxidative cell damage.
Boosts the immune system
- Due to their abundance of antioxidants like anthocyanins, which help fight off dangerous free radicals and shield the body from oxidative stress, elderberries are recognized for their immune-stimulating characteristics
- Regular elderberry consumption may shorten and lessen the severity of colds and flu.
Relieves cold and flu symptoms
- People have used elderberry syrups or supplements to treat symptoms of cold and flu for centuries.
- They contain substances that prevent viral replication and potentially shortens the duration and severity of symptoms.
Supports heart health
- Elderberries’ abundant anthocyanin content has been associated with a lower incidence of heart disease.
- These antioxidants assist in lowering blood pressure, lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and enhancing cardiovascular health in general.
Enhances digestive health
- Elderberries have a high content of dietary fiber, that helps in keeping a healthy digestive system.
- Constipation is avoided, regular bowel movements are encouraged, and an adequate fiber diet supports a healthy gut microbiome.
- Elderberries contain antioxidants with potent anti-inflammatory activity.
- Regular ingestion may reduce the inflammation and the symptoms of long-term health conditions like diabetes, arthritis, etc.
Available forms of Elderberry Supplements
Elderberry supplements can be found in the following forms:
- Dried elderberries
Adults have taken elderberry fruit extracts most frequently in doses of up to 1200 mg daily for two weeks.
Side effects of Elderberry
While elderberries offer numerous health benefits, it is essential to note that they can cause side effects in specific individuals.
Excessive consumption of elderberries may lead to digestive issues such as:
Additionally, some individuals may be allergic to elderberries, experiencing symptoms such as:
- Swelling of throat, tongue, or lips
- Facial swelling
- Difficulty breathing
When taken in moderation, elderberries are generally safe for most people. However, it is essential to exercise caution and follow these safety guidelines:
- Unripe or uncooked elderberries contain cyanogenic glycosides, a substance that, when consumed, can cause cyanide emissions. To effectively deactivate these chemicals, elderberries must be adequately cooked or processed
- Elderberries may cause allergies or sensitivities in certain people and should not be consumed by people who develop any adverse side effects, such as hives, swelling, or trouble breathing.
- Those with an autoimmune condition should not use elderberry since it may raise the chance of acquiring or aggravating autoimmune diseases.
- Elderberry supplements shouldn’t be suggested for women who are expecting or breastfeeding because there is insufficient proof of their effectiveness and safety.
- Elderberry usage for COVID-19 has not been studied in any published research trials. The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have taken legal action against businesses that promoted goods with erroneous claims of COVID-19 efficacy.
- Choose reliable vendors or buy elderberry goods from established companies. Make sure the berries are handled and processed hygienically and that they are fresh.
- Before beginning a new supplement or herbal regimen, it is advised to speak with a healthcare provider or herbalist and to start in low doses to avoid any serious adverse effects.
- To decrease pesticide and other toxins exposure, try purchasing organic elderberries. Wildcrafted elderberries, gathered from naturally growing plants, are another well-liked option for those looking for a more environmentally responsible and sustainable alternative.
- Elderberries are healthy, but consuming too many might cause intestinal pain. Elderberries should be used in moderation, and dosage recommendations for elderberry supplements should be followed.
If you are considering adding elderberries or elderberry supplements to your daily routine, it is essential to be aware of potential drug interactions and take necessary precautions:
- Diabetic drugs – Elderberries may drop blood sugar levels. Therefore, people on medication for diabetes must track their blood sugar levels frequently and seek advice from a healthcare provider.
- Diuretics – Elderberry encourages urination and may work with diuretics to increase their effectiveness.
- Laxatives – Elderberry was reportedly used to alleviate constipation; therefore, taking it along with laxatives may have additional effects.
Before taking the elderberry supplement, it is recommended that people discuss all the medications they are currently taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal drugs, and supplements, as the above list of drug interactions does not cover all the medications known to interact with it.
The Bottom Line
Elderberries are a nutritional powerhouse, offering various health advantages due to their rich antioxidant content. However, it is crucial to exercise caution, choose reputable sources, and follow recommended guidelines to ensure safety and minimize potential risks or side effects. Before incorporating elderberries into your diet, consult with your doctor, particularly if you have any other health issues or are taking any medications.