Berries are one of the healthiest foods that you can eat. What’s more, is that there are many different types to choose from!
For example, there are blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and goji berries. As it is, they’re all packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
What about elderberries? You don’t hear about them as often but are they good for your health? Are elderberries safe to eat?
Want to know? If so, be sure to keep reading—we’ll be going over everything that you need to know below!
About The Elderberry Plant
There are various species of the elderberry plant—the most common being the Sambucus nigra. Native to Europe and North America, it can grow up to 30 feet tall.
During the summer, cream-colored flowers will grow in clusters. From there, berries will develop in small black bunches.
Are Elderberries Safe to Eat?
Yes, they are edible. Compared to other berries, however, they’re relatively tart. That’s one of the reasons why they’re often cooked before being eaten.
They can also be used to make jams, juice, and wine. Elderberry teas and tinctures are a thing as well. If anything, they’ve become more popular over the past few years.
Elderberry supplements are also an option for those who are not a fan of the taste.
7 Health Benefits of Elderberries
These small, purple fruits can benefit your health in various ways. Here’s what you need to know.
1. They’re Rich in Nutrients
Elderberries contain high levels of flavonoid—a type of antioxidant that’s often found in fruits and vegetables. Not only do they have anti-inflammatory properties, but they can also protect you against certain diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
In addition to that, they’re high in vitamin C and dietary fiber, the latter of which is crucial for our digestive health. The best part? They’re low in calories!
2. They can Improve Cold and Flu Symptoms
Elderberry extracts have been shown to improve cold and flu symptoms. More specifically, they’re capable of reducing the severity and length of influenza.
Given that, it’s not surprising to know that there are various commercial preparations available. For example, you can get it as a liquid, lozenge, or gummy.
In one study, those who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup showed significant improvement in influenza symptoms in two to four days whereas those who didn’t take the syrup showed improvement in seven days.
With that said, more large-scale studies are needed to confirm these results. The efficacy of homemade remedies has also not been proven.
3. They can Benefit the Heart
Research has shown that elderberry may have a positive effect on heart health. In addition to decreasing cholesterol, it may reduce the amount of fat that’s present in the blood.
Not only that, but it may be capable of lowering blood pressure, according to one animal study. This means that they’d be less susceptible to organ damage.
It’s worth noting that the fruit also contains anthocyanin, a flavonoid that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. They Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Elderberries can improve blood sugar levels by increasing insulin secretion. In doing so, it may help those with diabetes—a condition that’s often characterized by a lack of insulin.
It does this by inhibiting an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, which is located in the small intestine.
Note: Consult with your doctor first before taking any elderberry products if you’re taking medications for diabetes. It can increase your risk of developing hypoglycemia aka low blood sugar.
5. They Can Help Prevent Acne
Elderberry contains antioxidants that are capable of protecting healthy cells from harmful free radicals. This can help prevent skin problems such as acne.
In addition to that, it has antiseptic effects, which allow it to fight against acne-causing bacteria. For example, there are elderberry face washes that you can use to clear up your skin.
6. They Can Treat Constipation
Drinking elderberry tea may help with constipation. This laxative effect is attributed to anthraquinone, a compound that’s found in many plants.
It works by inhibiting the absorption of water in the intestines, which stimulates peristalsis. This, in return, helps to promote regulate bowel movements.
More studies, however, are needed to better understand its laxative properties.
7. They Can Relieve Pain
Elderberries contain anthocyanins, which are known for reducing inflammation. It does this by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide in the body.
Normally, this compound serves as a signaling molecule that triggers inflammation. By lowering its response, an individual will feel less pain.
In fact, elderberry tinctures have traditionally been used to treat cuts and burns. Some people even use it for neuropathic pain such as sciatica.
Potential Side Effects
Ripe elderberries are considered safe—as long as they’re consumed in moderation. Too much and it can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
Certain parts of the plant such as the bark, root, and leaves also contain a toxin called cyanogenic glycoside. It’s present in trace amounts in unripe berries as well—that’s why it’s important not to consume the raw fruit.
Fortunately, commercial preparations do not contain this toxin.
Understanding the Benefits of Elderberries
Hopefully, that answers the question of “are elderberries safe to eat?”. As you can see, these fruits have many health benefits—from improving your heart health to improving flu symptoms.Interested in learning more about the naturalistic approach? We can help! Feel free to contact your local Great Earth store for more information.