When you are pregnant and you are interested in the thought: dried berries during pregnancy. You will see many valuable details on that topic, as well as tips, guidance, opinions, and answers to help questions concerning having a baby, appropriate nutrition and diet programs.
Elderberries (Sambucus Nigra) are dark purple berries that are native to Europe. The bark, roots, leaves, flowers, and fruits of the elderberry plant are widely used in traditional medicine. However, the use of bark, root, and leaves has been scanned due to the presence of sambunigrin, a potentially toxic (1). Therefore, the most common part of elderberry used is its fruit.
Elderberry products are available in the form of teas, extracts, supplements, syrups, gummies, and pills. Many of these products are used primarily to treat colds, flu, constipation, and other conditions (2).
But is it safe to eat elderberries or consume any products made from elderberries during pregnancy? Read this MomJunction post to find out if consuming elderberry during pregnancy is a good idea.
Is elderberry safe during pregnancy?
Clinical indications show that immature elderberries are toxic and should be avoided (3). However, the ripe ones can be consumed in moderation and only in cooked form. However, there are no clinical studies to show whether the berries are safe or unsafe during pregnancy (4).
Raw elderberries can cause nausea due to the presence of alkaloids. Therefore, elderberry should be eaten cooked (5).
It is good to consult a doctor before planning to use an elderberry or any product made from elderberry.
(Read: Blueberries During Pregnancy )
Health benefits of elderberry during pregnancy
Elderberries contain significant amounts of vitamins, amino acids, and flavonoids, which can help you meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrients (6).
- May Promote Respiratory Health: Rich in bioflavonoids such as anthocyanins, elderberries are believed to relieve irritation and inflammation in the respiratory tract. Steam and elderberry extracts are recommended for symptomatic relief from cold and flu.
In addition, bioflavonoids also have expectorant properties that eliminate phlegm and promote respiratory health. Elderberries have been used in traditional medicine to treat sore throats, coughs, colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses (7).
Some clinical studies in recent times have found an elderberry to be helpful in treating the common cold and upper respiratory infections. However, its use is not recommended during pregnancy (8).
- Helps improve immunity. : The antibacterial and antiviral properties of elderberries are considered to boost the immune system and help fight flu viruses effectively. Berries are believed to enhance the production of cytokines, a new class of immune compounds, which play an important role in fighting infections (9) (10).
Some recent studies have also shown the possible effectiveness of elderberry in cases of swine flu or H1N1.
- Supports bone health : The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components in elderberries are believed to relieve pain and joint pain. A research study conducted on different elderberry cultivars showed that they are rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. This high mineral content is considered to promote bone strength and reduce bone loss (11).
- Helps improve vision. : Anthocyanin pigments found in elderberries are considered nutraceuticals that may help maintain vision. They can also offer vision protection and are generally associated with better night vision (12).
- Supports cardiovascular health : A research study revealed that berries (including elderberry) are a good source of anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber, and are associated with maintaining health cardiovascular (13).
The high fiber content in elderberries can help eliminate bad cholesterol and promote good cholesterol levels. It may also prevent the progression of atherosclerosis, control blood pressure fluctuations, and promote heart health.
Consuming different forms of elderberry during pregnancy
Elderberry can be consumed in different forms, some forms such as elderberry tea and jelly beans are available in the market. However, you can also make some varieties of food at home.
For medicinal purposes (such as natural home remedies) or otherwise, the use of elderberry has not been recommended during pregnancy. There is no safe dose of consumption mentioned in the literature. Therefore, always consult your doctor before trying elderberry and its products.
1. Elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup is known to fight colds and flu. It is believed to be an immunity booster and is effective to use during pregnancy only on the advice of doctors, especially for cold, flu, and other respiratory problems (3).
You can make simple elderberry syrup at home by combining elderberry with water and maple syrup or honey. Store it in the refrigerator and take a tablespoon of it every day to avoid infection.
2. Elderberry tea
You can use tea bags or boil a tablespoon of dried berries or flowers in eight ounces of water to make elderberry tea.
3. Elderberry juice
Choose fresh juice that tastes sweet and tangy. Don’t consider packaged drinks as they contain too much sugar. According to the American Botanical Council, you can consume eight ounces of elderberry juice expressed twice daily (for 3-5 days) to combat cold and flu symptoms.
4. Elderberry jam
You can eat it alongside fresh bread and butter, oatmeal cakes, hot buns, rice pudding, or Greek yogurt. You can also add it to muffins, pancakes, fruits, salads, and crumbs. However, the use of elderberry in this form should only be done after consulting a doctor.
(Read: Goji berries during pregnancy )
A simple recipe to make homemade elderberry jam:
You will need
- 700 g of elderberry
- a cup of lemon juice
- 700 g of brown sugar
- Jar of 600 ml
How to do
- Combine elderberries and lemon juice in a skillet and cook over medium heat.
- Once the juice starts to run and boil, simmer and hold for 20 minutes. It removes the layer that forms on the surface.
- Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Boil until it reaches a set point, which is 105C. You can check the temperature with a sugar thermometer.
- Another alternative is to keep a couple of dishes in the freezer for 10 minutes and cut a tablespoon of jam to add to cold dishes. Leave for 10 to 15 seconds and push with your finger. If it forms wrinkles, you have reached the set point.
- Store the jam in a hot, sterilized jar and close it tightly. Keep the jar in the dark and cool place.
5. Elderberry jelly beans
Gummies are a delicious way to consume the flu-busting antioxidants and healing properties of the fruit. Gummies are available over the counter, but you can also make them at home. To make them at home,
You will need
- 1 cup elderberry syrup
- 4 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin
How to do
- Combine the gelatin and syrup in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Beat frequently, heat until gelatin dissolves.
- Using an eyedropper, transfer the mixture into silicone molds. Refrigerate and let it solidify for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the gummies from the molds and store in an airtight jar.
What are the side effects of taking elderberry when pregnant?
Ripe and cooked berries are safe for consumption. However, you should not eat raw or unripe berries.
- Raw elderberries contain bitter alkaloids , sambucin, and hydrocyanic acid, which can cause nausea and vomiting. These alkaloids are present in lesser amounts in ripe berries and are destroyed when cooked (14).
- Another safety concern involves autoimmune diseases . If you’re already experiencing lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis, taking elderberry may stimulate the nervous system and intensify the symptoms of the disease (4).
Although it has nutritional and medicinal properties, a lack of proper research makes elderberries a questionable food to eat during pregnancy. Since it also has some side effects in addition to benefits, its use during pregnancy should be done after consulting a doctor. Also, avoid use for any medical concerns during pregnancy.
(Read: Can you eat blackberries when pregnant?)
Did you eat elderberries when you were pregnant? Do share your experiences and also any elderberry recipes you’ve benefited from in the comment section below.
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