The elderberry is in the honeysuckle family, and the cooked berries offer a long list of health benefits. Ripe elderberries range in color between black, blue-black and red. The black and blue-black berry varietals are more common in the Northern Hemisphere, although some (more commonly red) varietals grow in the Southern Hemisphere.
Syrups and extracts are the most common usages for elderberries, although the whole berries are sometimes baked in pies or made into jellies and relishes. St-Germain is one of a handful of liqueurs made with the elderflower. Elderberries cannot be consumed without cooking, as they are poisonous.
Elderberries make an excellent dietary supplement, being useful for treating minor diseases such as the flu, constipation, and colds. They offer a rich source for Vitamin C (one serving provides 43% of the Daily Value), with moderate amounts of iron and Vitamin B6. Amino acids, carotenoids, and the powerful antioxidant anthocyanins are additional nutrients in elderberries. They have a higher content of flavonoids than the superfruits blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and goji berries. Elderberries offer natural laxative (mild), diaphoretic and diuretic capabilities as well.
The most notable health benefits of consuming elderberries are that they:
- Treat rheumatism and reduces inflammation
- Lower cholesterol and blood sugar
- Improve vision
- Offer a natural remedy for sinus infections
- Stimulate the immune system
- Enhance cardiovascular health
- Reduce symptoms of asthma
- Prevent viral infections
- Promote energy, reducing the effects of chronic fatigue
- Support treatments for cancer and AIDS
- Encourage healthy skin
- Ease allergy symptoms