Get to know the elderberry, nature’s potent nutrient cocktail
10/01/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Get to know the elderberry, nature’s potent nutrient cocktail

If you are looking for a delicious, nutrient-dense fruit to add to your diet, then look no further because the elderberry might be the one for you.

Known to the scientific community as Sambucus nigra, the elderberry is common throughout the Northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America.

Best known for its dark blue – and sometimes even black – coloration, the elderberry is highly valued for its potent medicinal properties, with its extract used as a traditional remedy against infections such as colds and the flu.

And it’s not just the berries that possess healing properties – various parts of the elderberry tree have been used throughout history for medicinal and culinary purposes as well, with the Ancient Greek philosopher and doctor Hippocrates even calling the elder tree his personal “medicine chest.”

For instance, the flowers and leaves have been used for pain relief, swelling, inflammation, to stimulate the production of urine and to induce sweating. The bark, on the other hand, was used as a diuretic, a laxative and even an emetic.

But first, what makes the elderberry tick?

Elderberries: A potent cocktail of nutrients

According to experts, the elderberry’s potency against infections is largely due to its nutrient-dense nature, with the elderberry revealed to be packed full of nutrients such as vitamins A, B and C, as well as essential minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorus and copper.

Where the elderberry really shines, however, is in its exceptional phytochemical content.

As detailed in a study, elderberries contain high amounts of phenolic acids, flavonols and anthocyanins, all of which exhibit powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with one study even noting that the anthocyanins found in the berries have 3.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E.

Because of their antioxidant content, elderberries have been linked to several health benefits, most of which are linked to the prevention of chronic diseases.

Some of the benefits of consuming elderberries include the following.

Elderberries may support optimal cardiovascular health

Eating elderberries or consuming their extracts, according to several studies, may have beneficial effects on one’s cardiovascular health, with the benefits ranging from reductions in fat and cholesterol to reductions in high blood pressure. These benefits, according to their respective research teams, have been attributed to the antioxidants found in elderberries.

Elderberries may be an effective treatment option for flu and the common cold

Elderberries, back in the olden days, were often processed into folk tonics that were said to help speed up one’s recovery from illnesses such as the flu.

As it turns out, this has a scientific basis, with several studies backing the claim that black elderberry extracts and flower infusions can effectively reduce the severity and length of influenza.

One such study, published in the Journal of International Medical Research, noted that people infected with the flu who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times per day showed significant improvements in their symptoms within a span of two to four days, while those who did not take the syrup only showed improvements after eight days.

A study published in Nutrients, meanwhile, found that air travelers who took capsules containing 300 mg of elderberry extract three times per day experienced shorter durations of illnesses and had less severe symptoms.

In addition, a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that elderberry extracts effectively inhibited the replication of flu viruses in infected individuals, thereby preventing their symptoms from worsening. According to the study, this immune-boosting property was traced to anthocyanidin, the phytochemical, which gives elderberries their distinctive color.

Do elderberries possess other health benefits?

There are many other reported benefits of elderberry, though most of these have limited scientific evidence:

As noted by experts, while the results highlighted in the previous studies are all interesting, further research is still needed to check if the same results can be expected in humans.

In addition, as there is no standardized method for measuring the number of bioactive components like anthocyanins in many commercial products, one must be diligent in checking the actual efficacy of products that contain elderberry extracts.

How do I take elderberries?

Ripe elderberries are known for their sweet flavor, which becomes even more pronounced once they get processed and turned into jams, jellies and purees.

A versatile fruit, they can also be used as pie fillings, or as an ingredient in cobblers and the like.

A word of caution, however: unripe and raw elderberries are toxic, due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides which can cause cyanide poisoning as well as acute gastric distress, nausea and vomiting when ingested.

Fortunately though, cooking the berries thoroughly is enough to remove the toxic compound.

With that being said, here is a classic elderberry recipe that you can try in order to experience the health benefits from this potent superfruit.

Elderberry Jelly


  • 3-4 pounds ripe, organic elderberries
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 1 packet organic pectin
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grass-fed, organic butter


  1. Rinse the elderberry clusters thoroughly by putting them in a basin filled with water.
  2. Strip the elderberries from their stems by gently raking your fingers or the tines of a fork across the clusters.
  3. Place berries in a large pot and crush with a potato masher to release some of the juices. Turn the heat to medium and continue to crush as the mixture heats up to a boil.
  4. Once the berries and their juices reach a boil, reduce the heat to low and let the berries simmer for 10 minutes before removing them from the heat.
  5. Place a large fine-mesh sieve over a pot and slowly transfer the mashed berries and juice over the sieve to strain the juice out into the pot. Let strain for an hour.
  6. Add three cups of the strained elderberry juice, lemon juice and pectin to a large pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add the sugar and butter and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil again. Watch the pot as the mixture will foam up considerably.
  8. As soon as the mixture reaches a rolling boil, remove from heat and pour the hot mixture into canning jars. Make sure to leave a ¼ -inch of headspace from the rim.
  9. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel. Place lids on jars and rings to secure.
  10. To ensure a good seal and to protect against mold, process the jars in a water bath for 5 minutes.
  11. Let cool. You should hear a popping sound as the lids seal.

Filled to the brim with health-supporting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, elderberries are some of the most nutritious fruits you can add to your diet.

Visit for more stories about using food as medicine.

Sources: 1 1 2 2 3 4

100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Related Articles
comments powered by Disqus

100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Popular articles