Here Are 4 of the Best Benefits of Elderberry Foods and Supplements

Call it a superfood, a superfruit, or a super berry – the elderberry indeed possesses something super! There’s a reason this nutrient-packed berry has been the top-selling herbal supplement in mainstream retail outlets for the past two years.

Low in sugar, and high in fiber, vitamin C, minerals, and a variety of health-promoting polyphenols with strong antioxidant power, this tart berry has impressive antimicrobial, immune boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties.

It has a long history of traditional use for a variety of ailments, and, in recent years, has become an increasingly popular supplement to take for lessening the symptoms and duration of colds and flus – with some evidence suggesting its efficacy.

Here’s what you need to know about this remarkable berry.

About the Elder

The single-most distinguishing health feature of the elderberry is its incredible antioxidant strength – nearly double that of blueberries – which is derived from its high vitamin C and anthocyanin content.

Anthocyanins are part of the flavonoid family of polyphenolic antioxidants. They’re the pigments that give elderberries their red and purple colors, and are excellent for your brain and body as they fight off free radicals and keep your cells healthy.

The two most common types of elderberry plants are the European elderberry and American elderberry. The beautiful deciduous shrub has big white flowers, which become deep dark purple berries when ripe.

The uncooked berries, leaves, bark, and roots of the elderberry contain very small amounts of certain plant chemicals that can cause an upset stomach. Elderberries are best cooked, and with the seeds strained.

Elderberry is available in jams, chutneys, and pies, and as a juice or wine. The flowers are often boiled with sugar to make a sweet syrup or infused into tea. There are now inventive elderberry essence beverages and waters available too.

When looking to support your health, you’ll find elderberry extract and powder in supplements, lozenges, gummies, syrup, creams, and more.

4 of the Best Benefits of Elderberry Foods and Supplements

With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power, elderberry offers a host of purported benefits that can help support your health in myriad ways. Here are several of the top researched benefits:

  1. May Help Reduce Duration of Colds and Flus

While extracts of elderberry have been used traditionally to support upper respiratory health for centuries, it’s only recently that researchers have started to examine it as a remedy for the cold and flu.

More than a decade ago, in a lab setting, scientists first took note of elderberry’s antimicrobial properties when they observed it inhibiting the growth of strep bacteria and flu viruses.

Today, experts believe that elderberry extract’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties help it to potentially shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. Interestingly, these symptoms are attributed more to the body’s inflammatory response to the virus than to the virus itself.

Several studies appear to confirm this idea. Notably, a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial had air travel passengers flying from Australia to an overseas destination take either elderberry extract or a placebo for a 15-day period starting 10 days before travel.

The results showed that travelers using elderberry experienced on average a 2-day shorter duration of the cold and fewer cold symptoms than the control group.

A 2018 meta-analysis on elderberry supplementation found that it substantially helped to reduce upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, and cough.

A more recent 2021 review of five randomized trials also found that elderberry may reduce the duration and severity of colds, and the duration of influenza – but not conclusively. It also noted evidence that elderberry has some effect on inflammatory markers. The review stated that elderberry “may be a safe option” for addressing viral respiratory illness.

More studies are needed, but this initial research is promising.

  1. May Benefit Your Heart Health

The super-rich anthocyanin content of elderberry is excellent for heart health. Considerable research indicates that a flavonoid-rich diet protects against heart health issues.

Additionally, animal studies have shown that elderberry promotes healthy blood pressure levels. Research also suggests that elderberry has positive effects on blood sugar levels.

Of course, out-of-control blood sugar levels are a major risk factor for heart health issues and vascular problems. Conversely, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level can help support your heart health.

  1. May Protect Your Skin

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of elderberry extract may benefit your skin. Indeed, research examining its impact found that elderberry may have the potential to ameliorate UVB-induced skin damage and inflammation. You can find skin creams now fortified with extracts of elderberry!

  1. May Help to Control Weight

The anti-inflammatory power of elderberry’s anthocyanins may help to tame metabolic disturbances present in overweight subjects. An animal study showed that elderberry’s anti-inflammatory effects and positive impact on blood sugar could be helpful in addressing underlying weight issues.

Additionally, in an observational human study, subjects that consumed a supplement drink of elderberry for a certain period of time showed that a number of biomarkers improved – including a healthier mean weight, a better blood pressure level, and greater well-being physically and emotionally.

More to Come

The health benefits of elderberry are still being studied. Traditional uses that have yet to be proven include drinking it as a tea for digestive health or consuming it for its diuretic and laxative effects. It also has been used to ease minor pains such as headaches or toothaches, and some nerve pain.

Enjoy the Benefits of Elderberry

While it’s great to use elderberry supplements, teas, and lozenges during the cold and flu season, remember it can be enjoyed in other ways. Add elderberry powder to a smoothie or consider baking an elderberry pie – with healthy ingredients of course!

At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.

Kim Henderson
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