When you talk about a well-functioning immune system, you are talking about elderberries.
Elderberries: dark purple pearls
They grow abundantly in the wild, but it is not a really well-known fruit. Many people will undoubtedly walk past a hanging bush in the summer months without a doubt. Maybe you too? I recently found out that year after year I have passed by one of the healthiest foods our planet has to offer in the summer. But products made from elderberries are also worth having at home. And if you go for a nice walk in the summer: bring a large bag and pick!
Elderberries are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
Elderberries are small, round berries that grow together in clusters. They are dark purple in color. And in that beautiful color, there is a lot of good hidden. Purple fruits and vegetables contain a lot of antioxidants. Research (1) shows that purple-colored fruits contain more antioxidants than other colors, especially the dark varieties.
Catch them if you can
Antioxidants are indispensable in a healthy body. They capture free radicals and render them harmless. Free radicals are aggressive substances that can damage cells and tissues. They are found in many products, especially those of chemical origin. Think of cigarette smoke, highly processed food, make-up, but also, for example, alcohol.
You can’t always prevent free radicals from entering your body. For example, the air we breathe contains particulate matter, which in the body translates into an increase in free radicals. Stress also causes it to form. Even sunshine increases free radicals! However, you can minimize the accumulation of free radicals as much as possible through a healthy diet and sufficient exercise. And antioxidants play an important role in this.
Antioxidants are needed to reduce the debilitating action of free radicals
Elderberries; high on the ORAC list
The proof that elderberries contain plenty of antioxidants can be found in the so-called ORAC list (2). ORAC stands for ‘Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. This is a list that compares and lists the antioxidant values of foods. This list has been released as a top 100: only foods with the highest antioxidant power are included. Elderberries are in 39 th place. That is a special achievement!
Elderberries are full of antioxidants, which they mainly owe to their dark purple color.
The Mother of Antioxidants
There are different types of antioxidants. In elderberries, it is mainly the anthocyanins and anthocyanidins (pronounce that!) that are responsible for this health effect. Anthocyanins are active dyes from the family of flavonoids (plant dyes) that are known for their powerful effect. They are also known as the mothers of antioxidants. They also contain other dark berries and cranberries, but elderberries are the real toppers.
Elderberries are the top of the flavonoids; plant substances that are also called the mothers of the antioxidants
What do all those anthocyanins do?
Now it gets really interesting. There is, of course, a reason that I am writing about elderberries at this time. This amazing fabric does a lot for our resistance. It works both antiviral and antibacterial (3):
- Anthocyanins in elderberries prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and viruses from attaching to cells. This process is necessary for the virus to reproduce. And that will eventually make you sick. By being ahead of this process, you avoid a lot of misery.
Researchers believe that one of these anthocyanins, cyanidin-3-glucoside, plays a role in the prevention of flu: this substance disrupts the protein that allows flu viruses to enter cells. (4)
- Anthocyanins provide an extra release of specific substances that regulate your immune system and keep it strong (5)
- Anthocyanins ensure that a contracted flu lasts shorter. In an older study from 1993, a group of people was given a placebo or elderberry extract during a flu wave. While flu patients who received the placebo improved after six days, the patients who received the extract started to feel better within two days. A similar, but on a larger scale, study took place a few years later in Norway. With similar positive results! (6)
Even more advantage
In addition to this antioxidant boost, elderberries also contain quite a bit of fiber and vitamins A and C. These vitamins are also considered antioxidants. An extra powerful weapon for good health and a strong immune system.
Don’t eat them raw because of the cyanide
In addition to berries, the elderberry bush also produces blossoms. You will find these in the spring. The syrup is usually made from it. Elderflower does not have the same positive properties as described above but can be beneficial for colds and sore throats.
You pick the berries at the end of the summer. They are delicious to make jam, syrup, chutney, juice, or liqueur. You can also use blossoms and berries to make tea.
Don’t eat them raw. Raw elderberries contain the toxic substance cyanide. This can make you nauseous or get diarrhea if you ingest too much. Cooking or processing breaks down this cyanide.
The growth of pathogenic bacteria and viruses was inhibited!
Fortunately, juice, syrup and extract (in supplements) are available all year round. These products are also effective and can be just as effective as the berries themselves. For example, in a study of healthy subjects who drank a large glass of elderberry juice, the researchers found that the ‘antioxidant capacity’ of their blood had increased ‘significantly’ an hour later.
Researchers who added an extract of elderberry to cells infected with pathogenic bacteria and flu viruses saw that the growth of the invaders was inhibited (4). See, that’s exactly what we’re looking for!
Elderberry juice and extract can work just as effectively as the berries. The quality makes the difference.
Avoid loads of sugars
As with so many products, the quality varies greatly. This also applies to anything made from elderberries. When buying, make sure that it is a pure product. Elderberries are not sweet in themselves, which is often compensated by the producer by adding a mountain of sugar. Leave this to the left.
Syrups also always contain sugar, but this varies enormously. There are bottles for sale with only 5% elderberries (and a lot of sugar), but also brands with a little cane sugar and mainly the berries themselves. Don’t buy juice from concentrate either, but see if you can get a 100% pure version. You can also find dried elderberries online. Also, make sure that they are not (too) sweetened.
Elderberries, so do it! Get out and about in the summer or opt for a high-quality product from the store. I have only found these so far in organic stores or online. So do a search. But it will give your health and immune system a huge boost!