Elderberry, a teeny-tiny berry that packs a powerful punch, comes from a popular plant known for its immune-boosting properties.
Rebecca Snow, a nutritionist and herbalist based in Catonsville, Maryland, says elderberry is particularly beneficial when it comes to viral infections. According to the journal , elderberry promotes seasonal support and the stimulation of immune responses.
How so? “Elderberry is believed to have antiviral effects by reducing replication of the influenza virus,” Snow says. It also contains flavonoids, boasting antioxidant properties, which is great because antioxidants aid in protecting cells from damage from free radicals. Yes, please!
From syrup to supplements, here are seven different ways you can reap the benefits of this lush little berry.
Elderberry supplements are the most common way to take elderberry. You can buy them in all sorts of forms, ranging from tinctures to capsules to lozenges. It’s a good idea to have your favorite form of elderberry on hand in your medicine cabinet so you can help combat cold and virus symptoms as they pop up. Some people take elderberry daily as a preventative measure during cold and flu season, too.
Add elderberry to your breakfast routine in the form of jelly! This versatile way to enjoy the food lasts for a long time in the fridge and can be added to everything from breakfast foods (French toast, anyone?) to desserts ( perhaps?). Jello is an option, too, as is a fancier compote.
Syrup is another popular form for elderberry, easily found in any health food or supplements section. It can be mixed with other drinks or quickly downed in a spoonful.
Most elderberry syrups are sweetened with sugar orhoney, so it’s a tasty way to keep your body well (a.k.a. it’s not your gross “grape”-flavored childhood medicine).
Try drinking your elderberry as a punch. To do so, combine the syrup with a healthy juice or sparkling beverage. “At our house, we add elderberry syrup (two teaspoons) to plain seltzer water and make elderberry spritzer in the winter months,” says Snow.
Gummies are a great way to get all the elderberry benefits—especially for kids.
6. Baked goods
Elderberries aren’t very sweet on their own, but they can add a unique flavor to baked goods like muffins, quick breads, or cookies. Snow says she even adds a few dried berries as she cooks oatmeal, as another option to boost the nutritional content.
A tea made with elderberry and other supportive herbs, like can really help keep your immune system in check. Not only are you hydrating your sore throat and stuffy nose with the tea, but you’re providing your body with compounds that can help you fight off the illness.
If you’re interested in DIY–ing your own elderberry products, make sure you buy quality dried elderberries from a reputable source. It’s also key to ensure that elderberries are cooked before you consume them.