By Tilman Nathaniel, Founder of Superfood Box
Why are elderberries so popular and why are they always included in cold or flu products?!
Last year, a PhD student from the University of Maine wrote her 194-page dissertation assessing commercial elderberry (Sambucus sp.) products. She compared a bunch of elderberry products and found the highest anthocyanin content in Bio-Botanica® AF Elderberry Syrup.
I checked out Bio-Botanica and noticed that they are a manufacturer of many health foods, and sell them under the following brand names:
What I found most intriguing in the paper was a table on page 51-52 comparing the products sampled alongside the "Average Months in Distribution Before Analysis." Bio-Botanica, the brand with the high content of anthocyanins, was only 1 month old whereas some others ranged up to 18 months, like Nature's Answer Black Elderberry Extract.
Nature's Answer's anthocyanin content in the table above was only 25.5mg/L while the Bio-Botanica sample was 1048.1mg/L. But isn't Nature's Way a Bio-Botanica brand? So most like the 18 months had a lot to do with the difference. The other thing I noticed was the Bio-Botanica sample only listed elderberry and glycerin, while the Nature's Way elderberry extract was watered down with:
Fructose, Purified Water, Vegetable Source Glycerin, Natural Raspberry Flavor, Citric Acid
The lessons learned: pay attention to expiration dates and purity of ingredients (those listed first are in the highest quantity). I didn't read the entire 194-page paper, so if I'm you find out my conclusions are lacking context or value, feel free to comment!
Curious what types of fruits are the best cancer fighters? This study recap video is really cool:
The winner in this study was cranberries! No, elderberries were not included. What if we stack up cranberries against elderberries?
I found one study comparing the antioxidant value of not only elderberries and cranberries, but also strawberries, bilberries, wild blueberries and raspberry seeds.
Wild blueberry and bilberry extracts exhibited the highest ORAC values compared to the other samples, while strawberry powder exhibited a significantly higher ORAC value compared to cranberry, elderberry, and raspberry seed. Cranberry exhibited a marginally higher ORAC value compared to elderberry, while elderberry exhibited a marginally higher ORAC value compared to raspberry seed.
The paper also explained the significance of anthocyanins:
Thanks for reading!
Bagchi, D., Sen, C.K., Bagchi, M. et al. Biochemistry (Moscow) (2004) 69: 75. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:BIRY.0000016355.19999.93