11 Ways Elderberry Can Improve Your Health

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Elderberries or Sambucis is the fruit of the elderberry plant, a shrub that flourishes in temperate climates worldwide. The most common species of this natural wonder is the Sambucus nigra, which has been in use for centuries to treat respiratory issues like coughs, flu, and other chest-related issues. Among diverse types of berries, elderberry is the only one consumed only after cooking.

Although all parts of this incredible food are edible, with different benefits, the fruit is usually used. It is full of vitamins and antioxidants that are beneficial for your body, inside and out. Discover 11 ways in which elderberry can enhance your overall health.

1. Good Source Of Vitamin C

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Compared to varieties of oranges and tomatoes, elderberries have more vitamin C content. One cup or 240 grams of elderberry supplies 52 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, equivalent to 57% of the daily value (DV). This nutrient helps to prevent illness, aids in muscle recovery, and supports immune health.

It also assists with tissue repair, reverses oxidative damage, and stimulates cellular function for improved recovery time, efficiency, and healthy skin. It even defends cells against the consequences of free radicals.

2. Anti-inflammatory Properties

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Elderberry acts as an anti-inflammatory. It helps to reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body. It is loaded with anthocyanins, which control inflammatory processes by fighting cellular oxidative stress generated by the organic compound tert-butyl-hydroperoxide. Besides this, it has polyphenol flavonoids, which have a positive influence on reducing brain inflammation.

Aside from its fruit, its leaves and flowers have been used for inflammation, easing pain and swelling, promoting urine production, and generating sweating. Also, the inflammation-fighting effects of this berry may support lower stress and enhance well-being and mood.

3. Strengthen Immune System

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Among the varieties of elderberries, black elderberries or Sambucus nigra are considered best for keeping a strong immune system. It is rich in antioxidants, phenolic acid, vitamins and minerals, calcium, and potassium, which play a vital role in boosting the immune system.

Food rich in calcium plays a crucial role in activating cells of the immune system. For controlling several host immune functions and antimicrobial movements, potassium-rich foods play an important part. Consuming this fruit even helps to heal from respiratory illnesses and the common cold quickly. Not only does it reduce the duration, but it also helps prevent illness.

4. Maintain Healthy Skin

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Healthy skin is crucial. Elderberry is rich in antioxidants, which lower oxidative damage while promoting healthy and youthful skin. It is packed with Vitamin A and bioflavonoids essential for nourishing skin.

​​​​​​​​Here are some ways elderberry helps your skin:

  • Smooth and soften skin: Lipids play a significant role in maintaining healthy skin. Elderberries keep a stable and healthy lipid layer that supports the proper functioning of your skin barrier, resulting in smooth, soft skin.
  • Control and combat acne: Elderberries help balance skin oils, prevent breakouts, and calm skin with antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
  • Anti-aging benefits: Bioflavonoids in elderberry prevent wrinkles and fine lines by improving skin elasticity. The astringent properties promote skin tightening, which decreases pore size and gives the skin a firmer, more youthful appearance.
  • Protect against UV damage: Elderberry contains several compounds that provide effective protection against the sun's harmful UV rays. These compounds can significantly prevent photo-aging and reduce the damage caused by it to your skin.

5. Rich In Antioxidant

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Elderberry plant leaves, flowers, and fruit are high in antioxidants. One of the berries' anthocyanins has 3.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E.

  • Flavonoids: Flavonoids like quercetin and rutin, phytonutrients found in plants, are packed in elderberry. Flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory properties and safeguard cells against oxidative injury, which can trigger cardiovascular ailments, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.
  • Anthocyanins: Elderberry fruit extract is rich in anthocyanins, responsible for its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has about 80% of the polyphenol content, contributing to its fruit extract health benefits.
  • Protocatechuic and chlorogenic acid: Freshly pressed elderberry juice is rich in antioxidants such as protocatechuic and chlorogenic acid.
  •  Lutein and zeaxanthin: Elderberry includes lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that promote eye health and can control eye conditions, including retinal degeneration.

In addition, processing elderberries, such as extraction, juicing, and heating, can decrease their antioxidant effects. Therefore, products like juices, syrups, teas, and jams may have lowered benefits.

6. Improve Heart Health

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Elderberry can potentially offer some benefits to heart and blood vessel health markers. It may lower blood sugar and have anti-diabetic effects, resulting in increased heart health⁠. ⁠Drinking its juice may help to reduce the level of fat in the blood and lessen cholesterol levels. It's high in flavonoids like anthocyanins, that is associated with decreasing heart disease risk.

Also, the fruit extract contains polyphenols, which help to reduce blood pressure. In addition, consuming this type of berries may aid in drooping uric acid levels in the bloodstream, and elevated uric acid has been connected to increased blood pressure and harmful influences on cardiovascular health.

7. High In Fiber

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Serving per cup of fresh elderberries provides 10 grams of fiber, equal to 36% of the daily value (DV). High-fiber food helps in various ways for our overall well-being. The fiber found in elderberry contributes to the normal functioning of the digestive system, regulates bowel movements, and prevents constipation.

Soluble fiber decreases the amount of cholesterol absorbed by your body as it functions by binding to the cholesterol particles in your small bowel, stopping them from entering the bloodstream and traveling to other parts. Instead, the fiber helps to clear cholesterol from the body by assisting in its excretion through feces.

8. Blood Sugar Management

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Elderberry can improve blood sugar management by increasing insulin secretion, which is crucial in preventing heart and vascular diseases that are associated with type 2 diabetes. It even helps an individual with diabetes manage their blood sugar level.

Sambucus is filled with phytonutrients and polyphenols that assist your body's glucose processing, making it useful for managing and balancing glucose levels.

Elderberries support diabetes management by:

  • Balance blood sugar
  • Reduce insulin resistance
  • Raise the uptake of glucose into the muscle
  • Aid in avoiding diabetes complications
  • Enhance bone mineral density

9. Help Fight Cold And Strep Throat

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Black elderberry extracts and flower intakes have been shown to lower the severity and length of flu. Even this fruit is prepared for cold treatment commercially in different forms like capsules, liquids, gummies, and lozenges. Research has found that taking elderberry in lozenge or extract form can lessen the duration and severity of colds, respiratory infection symptoms, and influenza.

Among 60 people with influenza, those who took elderberry syrup about 15 ml four times daily demonstrated symptom progress in 2 to 4 days. It also controls bacterial conditions spreading like strep throat, and its anti-inflammatory effects can assist in easing pain linked to strep throat.

10. Mood Boost & Brain Health

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Having adequate iron in your diet is crucial for optimal brain function. Without sufficient iron, the brain may experience negative effects, such as sluggishness, poor memory, restlessness, irritability, lack of focus, and decreased productivity. Elderberry is a great natural source of iron that helps the brain receive the necessary amount of oxygen.

It contains 2.32mg of iron, around 29% of the daily recommended value. In addition, its polyphenols could boost microbiome diversity, and varied microbiomes can have numerous advantages, not only for gastrointestinal health but also for mental well-being. Therefore, its intake can stimulate your mind and brain to function properly.

11. Respiratory & Lung Support

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Elderberry possesses a flavonoid called quercetin that supports lung function. This fruit is very crucial for individuals with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma. Its intake may clear signs in individuals with COPD when mixed with other elements.

The gut bacteria can instantly impact lung health; individuals with the highest infusion of anthocyanins had lower rates of lung function drop compared to those with the lowest intake. Its supplements help to shorten the duration of common respiratory ailments. Many people add these fruit extracts to their immune and respiratory support diet due to the age-old use of elderberry.

Elderberries Nutritional Value

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Elderberries are low in calories and high in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. One cup or 145 grams of fresh berries nutritional breakdown:

  • Calories: 106
  • Protein: 1 gram (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Dietary fiber: 10 grams or 36% of the DV
  • Fat: 0.7 g
  • Vitamin C: 52 mg or 57% of DV
  • Vitamin A: 870 mg
  • Potassium: 406 mg
  • Calcium: 55 mg
  • Iron: 2.32 mg

Elderberries are a good source of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, supplying around 6% of daily requirements.

Side Effects Of Consuming Elderberries

Elderberries are good for our overall well-being, but consuming them raw can have potential risks and side effects. Ingesting raw fruit can result in cyanide poisoning, causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For this reason, ensure to cook before eating, as boiling removes its toxic properties.

If you have a sensitive stomach or a gastrointestinal condition, you should avoid consuming leaves, bark, and seeds of this fruit. These plant parts have a laxative and diuretic effect, which could yield to abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

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