There’s a new buzzword in health headlines, elderberry. Has anyone else read about this hot-off-the-press nutrient? Either way, I am here to set the stage for this exciting and powerful nutrient. Also, as with any powerful nutrient, there are important precautions. I am here to tell you those as well. To lay some groundwork, this berry comes from the Sambucus tree, which is a flowering plant belonging to the Adoxaceae family. Let’s dive right into our discussion.
The benefits and uses of elderberry
- Elderberry is a powerhouse of nutrients and rich in phytonutrients. It is a great source of phenolic acids and flavonols, key antioxidants that help the body reduce damage from oxidative stress. Another key nutrient in elderberry is anthocyanin. Anthocyanins have been suggested to show anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic activity as well as cardiovascular disease prevention, obesity control, and diabetes alleviation properties. (1)
- Black elder, otherwise known as Sambucus nigra, has been researched to test the potency of its antiviral properties. Though a lot is still to be learned about this potent nutrient, one aspect that is exciting is its antiviral and antibacterial potential. There have been studies showing its value in reducing the symptoms of influenza and fighting off illness. (2, 3, 4)
- Elderberry may be good for heart health. Studies have shown that flavonoids, which are found in elderberry juice, may reduce our cholesterol and our cardiovascular risk. Additionally, a diet high in flavonoids like anthocyanins has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. (5)
- It’s a good source of vitamin C. 100 grams of elderberries can contain up to 35 mg of vitamin C, accounting for up to 60% of the recommended daily intake. That’s about 20% more vitamin C than found in an orange and twice that in a lemon.
The precautions of elderberry
- Another thing that makes this plant so interesting is that the exact nutrition of elderberries depends on the variety and ripeness of the berries along with environmental and climatic conditions. The fruit contains substances called cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide under certain circumstances. (6) But don’t be too alarmed because many other edible foods contain these substances as well, such as cassava, flaxseed, bamboo shoots, and the seeds of stone fruits.
- Since the majority of research has only been performed on commercially produced products, we need to learn more about the safety or efficacy of homemade remedies. This means that though this nutrient has its benefits, we need to leave it to the experts to extract the key nutrients from this fruit.
Overall, elderberry is a nutrient that has a great many benefits and uses. Though we still have more to learn about this powerful fruit, we should be confident to add its nutrients into our daily regimen.
Sarah is the Shaklee Pure Performance Team dietitian/nutritionist. She is also a two-time competitor for the USA in the Summer Games, participating in the 10-meter Air Rifle event in 2012 and 2016. Her experience as an elite athlete and her status as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Licensed Nutritionist (LN) make her perfectly suited to consult with Shaklee athletes on their nutritional needs. Sarah graduated from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas with a BS in Nutrition in 2013 and then earned an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Healthcare Management. She specializes in weight loss, improved sport performance, diabetes prevention, heart health, healthy aging, smoking cessation, and performance goals. Her hobbies include church ministries, mountaineering, physical fitness, and gardening. Keep up with her on her website or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.