The blue-black berries of the elder tree have many healing properties that have been utilized for thousands of years due to their richness in antioxidants and vitamins.
Whether you’re baking a delicious elderberry pie, crafting a fermented wine or ingesting a few tablets, incorporating elderberry into your lifestyle can benefit your health in many ways, from boosting your immune system to relieving symptoms of common illnesses like the cold.
Elderberry has a rich content level of polyphenols — plant-based micronutrients that can may help mitigate blood clots, improve brain function and promote healthy digestion
Read on to learn more about elderberry health benefits and how consuming elderberry can supplement a healthy lifestyle.
#1 Provide Nutrition
Black elderberry health benefits are bountiful. More specifically, elderberries are both low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, making them the perfect snack or supplement to start or end your day.
Just one cup of fresh elderberries is incredibly nutrient-rich:
- 52 milligrams of Vitamin C – This amount accounts for 87% of your recommended Vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is necessary for your body’s growth, development and bodily tissue repair. It also helps the immune system function properly.
- 10 grams of dietary fiber – The fiber content accounts for 36% of your daily value. High levels of fiber can help constipation, improve bowel function, reduce blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol.
- 27 grams of carbs – This accounts for 7% of your recommended daily carb intake. Carbs are your body’s main energy source and help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system.
- 1 gram of fat – This amount accounts for 2% of your recommended daily value. Fats are vital to a healthy and balanced diet. They help the body absorb essential vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E.
- 1 gram of protein – One cup of elderberries accounts for 1% of your recommended protein intake. A high-protein diet can help increase your muscle mass, lower your blood pressure and regulate your appetite levels.
- Anthocyanins – Giving elderberries their rich black color, these components have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help promote heart health.
- Phenolic acid – These compounds are high in antioxidants and may help aid oxidative stress on the body.
- Flavanols – These antioxidant components may help with blood pressure, improve blood flow and help stop blood clots.
Adding elderberries or elderberry supplementation to your diet may help improve your overall sense of wellness, health and vitality — and they’re delicious, too!
#2 Support Immune Health
Elderberries are packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, providing significant support to your immune system and inflammation relief. You can find elderberry support in lozenges, gummies, syrups, pills and teas to help fight against the common cold or flu.
While there are limited studies on whether consuming elderberries can relieve flu or cold symptoms, a study found that participants who ingested elderberry syrup felt relief from their symptoms four days before the placebo group did.
Another study also found that those who consumed 900 milligrams of elderberry capsules a day recovered faster from their cold symptoms, and had less severe symptoms.
#3 Improve Heart Health
The consumption of elderberry may have positive effects on heart and blood vessel health. For example, many studies have shown that elderberry juice may potentially reduce levels of fat within the bloodstream, which can decrease cholesterol levels.
However, some studies have shown that while cholesterol levels are decreased within the liver and aorta, they are not reduced within the bloodstream.
The high level of flavonols and anthocyanins in elderberries has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
#4 Provide Antioxidants
Elderberry has a rich content level of polyphenols — plant-based micronutrients that can may help stop blood clots, improve brain function and promote healthy digestion. They also have significant antioxidant properties.
During your body’s normal metabolism, reactive molecules can build up inside the body, causing oxidative stress within your body.
When elderberries are in your system, their antioxidant-rich composition can help your immune system function, as elderberry is perhaps one of the most effective natural antioxidants.
However, be aware that heating or juicing elderberries can actually reduce their antioxidant properties.
Risks and Side Effects
There are many ways to incorporate elderberry into your diet. However, when consuming elderberry raw, be wary of the berry’s seeds, leaves and bark of the tree as each contains a toxic substance that may lead to:
- Stomach discomfort
Raw, unripe berries may also cause some stomach issues if consumed.
More specifically, the elderberry plant contains a toxin called cyanogenic glycosides, which can also be found in apricot seeds and almonds. When digested, the toxin can release cyanide into the body.
In some cases, cyanide can stop your body’s cells from using oxygen, which can be harmful to your heart and brain, as well as other organs.
Luckily, commercial preparations of elderberry and cooked elderberry are free of cyanide.
Additionally, elderberry is not recommended for children under the age of 18 or women who are pregnant.
While there are elderberry lozenges, gummies, syrups and supplements available on the market to help combat the common cold or flu symptoms, you can also pick your own elderberries to craft a homemade syrup to complement numerous dishes or treats.
Typically, the growing season for elderberries is between August and October. When choosing your fresh berries, you can identify them by:
- Identifying a hedgerow or small shrub elder plant
- Finding clusters of small, purple-black berries hanging from the tree (sometimes they’re red)
Once you’ve gathered your basket full of elderberries, you can prepare your own elderberry syrup:
- Remove the stalks of the berry from the head with a fork
- Place the berries in a pan and cook them in 1 cm of water for about 15 to 20 minutes
- Once the mixture is cool, strain it with a fine sieve
- Add 400 g of sugar per every 500 ml of elderberry liquid in your pan
- Gently boil the liquid for about 10 minutes until it reaches a syrup consistency
The mixture should keep for three months in the refrigerator and up to a year if frozen. You can add this syrup to breakfast foods like yogurt, oatmeal or waffles or drink it in a juice, smoothie or tea.
In addition to a simple syrup, you can also incorporate cooked elderberries into:
Add Zebra CBD to Your Healthy Lifestyle
Elderberry is a superfruit packed full of nutrients and antioxidants that may help your body’s immune system and cardiovascular system. But it’s a great supplement to help combat colds, too!
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