The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a species of complex flowering plants in the Caprifoliaceae family. This plant is native to most of Europe and grows in a multitude of conditions including both wet and dry, fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations. There are several other closely related species, native to Asia and North America. The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3–5 millimeters in diameter, produced in drooping bunches in the late autumn. The dark blue or purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripened state. The green parts of the plant are poisonous. These berries are edible after cooking and can be used to make jam, jelly, chutney, and Pontack sauce.
Here are the 7 health benefits of elderberries.
1. Elderberries may help improve your digestive regularity.
Elderberries contain a significant amount of dietary fiber, which prevents constipation and reduces excessive gas, making one’s bowel movement easier to manage. One cup of elderberries contains 10 grams of dietary fiber. The daily recommended dietary fiber intake for men and women are 38 grams and 25 grams, respectively.
2. Elderberries can help individuals fight infections.
One cup of elderberries contains 87 percent of the vitamin C daily requirements. Vitamin C is a potent natural water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
Research, published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, suggests that elderberries produce strong antimicrobial effects on pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus MRSA.
3. Elderberries can help slow down aging.
Sufficient vitamin C intake can help your body create and maintain collagen, an essential protein found in hair and skin. Also, the bioflavonoids combined with vitamin A provide a potent antioxidant activity that prevents wrinkles, help age spots fade, and makes the skin more vibrant.
4. Elderberries can help you build healthy bones.
Elderberries contain calcium, iron, and potassium to reduce signs of osteoporosis, build stronger bones, and increase bone mineral density.
5. Elderberries can help fight anemia.
Anemia is the decrease of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Elderberries are an excellent source of iron, which is essential for the body to create new red blood cells. One cup of elderberries contains 13 percent of the daily recommended iron.
6. Elderberries can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Elderberries have a great potassium to sodium ratio. One cup of elderberries contains 406 milligrams of potassium, compared to 8.7 milligrams of sodium. This helps the blood vessels relax and maintains proper blood pressure. Also, a high potassium diet reduces strain on the heart and increases overall cardiovascular health.
7. Elderberries can help improve the heart’s health.
One study suggested that people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease when compared to those who consumed less potassium, approximately 1,000 mg per day.
Another research study, reported by the American Heart Association, suggested that fiber supplements may decrease the risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.