Elderberry has become all the rage in recent years. This berry has earned quite a reputation in holistic health circles, from syrups and gummies to teas and tinctures. But just how beneficial is elderberry? And in what ways?
Read on to learn all about the powerhouse that is elderberry benefits, including their nutritional value, how they help your body, and how to best use them!
The Nutritional Value of Elderberries
There are numerous elderberry benefits to consider, beginning with their core nutritional value. These include vitamins, principle nutrients, phytonutrients, electrolytes, and minerals.
Each of these elements has a different and crucial impact on the body. They all contribute to making the elderberry such a powerful health boost.
In terms of vitamins, elderberries contain many, including niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, folates, and riboflavin…many of which are subtypes of B Vitamins. The elderberry benefits are even higher among the more widely recognized vitamins, such as A and C.
A 100-gram serving of elderberries contains a whopping 60% of the daily recommended intake value of Vitamin C and 20% of the recommended daily intake value of Vitamin A. This is what makes them so wonderful for the immune system.
Pyridoxine, a form of Vitamin B6, is also found at 18% of the recommended daily intake value in this 100-gram serving of elderberry goodness. This helps your body process protein, which in turn affects your energy levels and metabolic rate.
Principle Nutrients and Phyto-Nutrients
Principle nutrients encompass things you typically find first on a nutritional label, such as fat content, fiber content, protein, cholesterol, carbohydrates, and the like. Meanwhile, phytonutrients encompass elements such as quercetin and isorhamnetin, key principles in reducing inflammation.
When looking closely at elderberry benefits, we find the same 100-gram serving also offers a powerhouse of these nutrients.
At this serving size, elderberries offer a great dose of healthy carbohydrates, particularly dietary fiber, clocking in at 14% and 18% of the recommended daily value. Though elderberry benefits weigh far less on the side of protein and fat, they are also cholesterol-free, making them a great option for a healthy nutrient dose for folks watching their cholesterol numbers.
Electrolytes help aid in the body’s overall levels of hydration and smooth out numerous bodily functions. In 100 grams of elderberry, you will find 6mg of sodium and 280mg of potassium–roughly 0.5% and 6% of the recommended daily intake.
While this might seem like a nominal amount in terms of elderberry benefits, it’s important to be mindful that the average person is usually dehydrated and lacking in several key minerals to some degree throughout the day. Plain drinking water can deplete the body of minerals like sodium and potassium, so it’s important to replenish these stores often and with the right sort of electrolytes.
For that reason, elderberry benefits are high, as they give the body a good source of bioavailable electrolytes. Even the small amount found in an average elderberry serving can raise electrolyte levels in the body and decrease feelings of thirst, lack of energy, fatigue, and general malaise.
Minerals are another key component of elderberry benefits. They play a vital part in the overall health and operation of many bodily functions, and a dose of 100 grams of elderberry will pack a powerhouse of these nutrient benefits.
The most noteworthy mineral present in this average elderberry serving size is iron. In 100 grams of elderberry, you will receive 20% of the recommended daily intake value of iron. This can reduce fatigue, weakness, and general feelings of exhaustion throughout the body.
In this same elderberry dose, you will also receive a good amount of phosphorus, which works in tandem with calcium to strengthen the body, including the bones, and reduce inflammation.
Other minerals present and active in elderberry benefits are zinc and magnesium. Zinc helps with immune support and aids in the body’s use of Vitamin C. Magnesium is attributed to many functions, including aiding in good sleep, reducing muscle aches, and much more.
Perhaps the most prominent and profound of all the elderberry benefits is the level of antioxidants these little berries contain. For comparison, they have nearly double the antioxidant properties of blueberries!
First and foremost on the antioxidant front is anthocyanin antioxidants. This pigment element is part of what gives elderberries their deep, dusky blue and even blackish-purple color. And it also gives a heap of elderberry benefits as well!
Anthocyanin antioxidants pair together with other antioxidants called polyphenolic flavonoid compounds (this includes quercetin and isorhamnetin). Together, these antioxidants reduce the presence of free oxygen radicals throughout the body.
This is a crucial elderberry benefit and a process we certainly want to support, as free radicals cause a lot of inflammation. By combatting that inflammation, antioxidants help slow aging, reduce the risks of cancer and infection, slow and even prevent degenerative diseases, and so much more.
Health Benefits of Elderberries
Perhaps the most prominently known of all elderberry benefits is its impact on the immune system. This is owed to the high amounts of immunity-boosting Vitamin C and the presence of Zinc and antioxidants on overall immune health.
Studies have shown over the years that consuming elderberries can reduce the longevity and impact of many illnesses without overstimulating the immune system. They do this by aiding a compromised immune system as it’s fighting off sickness and reducing inflammation that places more strain on the body, making it harder to recover in the first place.
Another of the great elderberry benefits on the immune system is that these berries reduce the susceptibility to catching illnesses at all. On average, folks who take elderberry prophylactically often tend to suffer from fewer bouts of sickness.
But we don’t just have to take modern medicine’s word for it. There is historical merit to the many elderberry benefits as well. Native cultures and early settlers in North America were known to use elderberry for its medicinal properties, and many indigenous peoples continue to use it regularly.
Better Respiratory Health
One of the key elderberry benefits most people notice is how it improves respiratory health. Taking elderberry supplements in various forms, including teas, supplements, syrups, and gummies, is shown to relieve symptoms of the flu and the common cold.
When taken at the onset of symptoms and employed on a steady regimen, elderberries can reduce the severity and duration of respiratory illnesses by a significant measure. But these respiratory elderberry benefits extend beyond just relief from cold and flu symptoms.
Many consumers of elderberry have noted a decrease in symptoms of allergies and asthma as well. This can likely be attributed to the elderberry’s antioxidant and inflammation-reducing properties since asthma and allergies are a form of inflammatory reaction.
Improved Heart Health
Another noteworthy elderberry benefit is the berry’s healthy range of sodium and cholesterol. Because of these factors, elderberries can be helpful in reaching and maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure and improving circulation rate.
This can, in turn, aid in oxygenation, respiratory rate, energy levels, focus and attention span, and more. Good circulation can even help your body maintain an optimal core temperature.
Improved Digestive Health
With this berry packing quite a punch of healthy dietary fiber, one of the elderberry benefits that are high on a lot of people’s lists is how it aids in digestion.
Regular consumption of elderberries can help promote a consistent and healthy digestive cycle. This helps balance the presence of toxins in the body and can reduce bloating, stomach pain, constipation, and other undesirable digestive symptoms.
In addition to a happy colon, another of the great elderberry benefits is how it affects gut bacteria. Our individual microbiome determines a lot of how we feel, from mood stability to energy levels to mental clarity.
Inflammation and an absence of good gut bacteria can have a deleterious effect on the whole body. Luckily, the antioxidant properties of elderberries help to promote the presence of good gut bacteria. This will help you feel better from head to toe!
Reducing inflammation is one of the premier elderberry benefits, and it’s good for a lot more than just reducing your likelihood of catching the common cold or flu! Most people don’t even realize how many physical maladies can be attributed to inflammation throughout the body.
Reducing inflammation can lead to things like better mental clarity, less joint and muscle pain, fewer menstrual symptoms, stabler moods, a sharp decrease in headache and migraine activity, and so much more.
Inflammation can also cause various gut issues, including worsening food sensitivities like lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance. When inflammation is high, these sensitivities can, in turn, manifest in skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
Because inflammation is often present in our bodies and contributed to by things we consume, the environment around us, and more, it’s important to reduce it wherever possible. Consuming elderberries can help make addressing inflammation a whole lot easier.
How to Use Elderberries
There are many different ways to enjoy elderberries! One thing to be mindful of is that raw elderberries do contain a level of cyanide, so these berries are not to be consumed without first cooking them down.
However, fresh, prepared elderberries are still a great way to reap those nutritional elderberry benefits. They can be used in a compote, jam, sauce, elderberry soup, or even baked into breads, pastries, and elderberry pie for a healthy kick to your everyday foods. Use them the same way you would a blueberry or blackberry.
Dried elderberries are also safe to consume. For example, they can be enjoyed mixed into cereal, granola, or ice cream. Dried elderberries and elderberry flowers also make a delectable tea.
Elderberry gummies are a particularly popular form for consumption because they are easy to consume in a compact, concentrated way. However, store-bought elderberry gummies can contain some additives and extra sugars to make them more palatable, and these elements aren’t always agreeable with every person’s system.
Bearing this in mind, if you want to use gummies as a means of enjoying the numerous elderberry benefits, consider making your own. Homemade gummies are easy to make and can cut out a lot of the additives and preservatives that might cause inflammation in the gut.
Elderberry syrup can also be homemade without additional additives, sugars, or preservatives. You can take it by the tablespoon in syrup form for medicinal purposes or drizzle it on things like ice cream, waffles, pancakes, and French Toast the way you would maple syrup.
This preparatory method also gives you the option to add various spices to cut the flavor if you prefer, as elderberries can be rather assertive.
The good news is, if you are pressed for time or not feeling the homesteading vibe, you don’t have to go foraging for elderberries or make them into an edible form yourself. If you are looking for elderberry benefits without much effort, you can find syrups, dried berries, teas, and extracts, and you can even purchase some elderberry gummies at many health food stores, supermarkets, and more.
When is the Best Time to Supplement with Elderberries?
Elderberry can be taken prophylactically throughout the year in any of its many forms to benefit overall health, regular reduction of inflammation, digestive health, and more.
However, even if you aren’t interested in the prophylactic use of elderberry for these purposes, adding it to your healthcare regimen during cold and flu season can be especially wise to boost your immune system.
Wrapping Up Elderberry Benefits
Excited about all the elderberry benefits available in these tart berries? Now is the time to start growing some for your at-home use! Check out our Elderberry Care page to learn about how to grow, care for, and use elderberries and so much more.