Elderberries look like a whole lot like blueberries, and while they’re nowhere near as well-known, they enjoy a comparable reputation as a superfood among nutrition insiders.
That’s because the small, dark berries are immune-boosting powerhouses, high in “health-giving” antioxidants, like flavonoids (which have serious anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial properties), explains Tipper Lewis, lead herbalist at the famed British natural health emporium, Neal’s Yards Remedies—as well as anthocyanin.
The latter is “what gives them their lovely dark purple color,” adds acupuncturist Jill Blakeway, director of the YinOva Center in New York City—and makes them a potent anti-viral. (Some very promising studies suggest they can help fight the flu.)
Elderberries have longer-term benefits as well. “[They] are also great for promoting healthy blood circulation, because the anthocyanins protect the inner layer of blood vessels from oxidative stress and inflammation,” says Blakeaway—two of the biggest culprits when it comes so many chronic diseases.
These berries don’t taste all that great raw, so many people sip them like tea, explains Lewis, or as a sweet-tasting elderberry syrup. You take a dose of the syrup straight-up, much like you’d take traditional cold or flu medicine…or use it on top of pancakes or froyo.
But consistency is key,” she says. “Herbal remedies work best when used regularly” so up your take throughout the cold and flu season.