Black Elderberry


In this article we'll look at the nutritional and health benefits of Elderberries.

Black Elderberry

This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078

Elderberry has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. Traditionally, it was used by Native Americans to treat infections and by ancient Egyptians to heal burns. In our article below, we’ll look at Black Elderberry in more detail.

What is Black Elderberry?

Black Elderberry (Latin name: Sambucus nigra) is a flowering shrub or small tree that is found across Europe. In late spring the plant will be covered with large clusters of small white or cream flowers, followed by clusters of small dark purple or black berries in late autumn.

Cooking with Elder

Both the flowers and the berries from the Black Elderberry plant have culinary use when cooked, even though the berries, seeds, and green parts of the plant are all poisonous when raw. The berries become edible after cooking, and are often used to make jam, jelly, chutney, and Pontack Sauce (Elderberry Ketchup). A soup made from elderberry is a traditional meal in Scandinavia and Germany.

The flowerheads are commonly used to make Elderflower Cordial which is diluted with water before drinking. The flowerheads can also be dipped into batter and fried to make Elderflower fritters.

Elderberry wine can be made with both the berries and the flowers. Elderflowers are also used in liquors, brandy, Jenever, and a mildly alcoholic sparkling Elderflower ‘champagne’.

Nutritional Benefits

Black Elderberries are packed with antioxidants and a range of other nutritional benefits.

They contain: [1]

  • Vitamin C. 100g of Elderberries contains somewhere between 6mg and 35mg of Vitamin C. This means that you could have more than half of your recommended daily intake in one serving.
  • Dietary Fibre. 100g of Elderberries also contains 7g of dietary fibre. This is over ¼ of your recommended daily intake.
  • Phenolic Acids and Flavonols.

    These are powerful antioxidants that can help to reduce free radical damage within the body.
  • Anthocyanins.

    These powerful plant compounds are what give Elderberries their characteristic colours. They also provide another dose of antioxidants.

Health Benefits

May reduce cold and flu symptoms

Elderberry syrup has long been used to relieve the symptoms of the common cold and flu.

A small study found that people suffering with flu experienced a reduction in their symptoms after 2 to 4 days of taking an Elderberry syrup. Participants in the same study who took a placebo took 7 to 8 days to notice a reduction in their symptoms. [2]

May contribute to the prevention of some chronic diseases

Your body naturally produces things called free radicals. These unstable molecules can cause oxidative stress, a process which can damage the body’s cells and lead to a range of diseases. Free radical damage can also cause symptom of ageing, like wrinkles.

Thanks to the rich antioxidant content found in Elderberries, they may help to prevent or slow the damage caused by free radicals. [3]

May benefit heart health

Studies have shown that Elderberry may reduce the risk of heart disease, thanks to their high anthocyanin content. [4]

Elderberries may also reduce the levels of uric acid in the blood. If uric acid levels get too high, it is linked to increased blood pressure. [1]

It’s also been found that Elderberry can increase insulin secretion, therefore improving blood sugar levels. [1] Similarly, elderberry flowers have been shown to inhibit the enzyme α-glucosidase, which may also help to lower blood sugar levels. [5, 6]

May fight harmful bacteria

Elderberry has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria like Helicobacter pylori and may help to improve the symptoms of sinusitis and bronchitis. [7]