American Elderberry: Making the Case for Making the Switch
American elderberry plants are cultivating quite a reputation among researchers when compared to European elderberry plants. Organic elderberries have been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for the immune system and upper respiratory conditions. In recent years, products like organic elderberry syrup and other organic remedies from elderberry plants have held true to the berry’s historical use, as studies have proven the efficacy – especially of American elderberry.
American Elderberry vs. European Elderberry
According to estimates, roughly 99% of elderberry plant products found in the North American marketplace contain imported elderberry from Europe. This elderberry has been dried down and/or powdered and is usually mixed with water or vegetable glycerin to constitute a syrup-like base.
European elderberry is known as Sambucus nigra and has primarily been used due to a lack of commercialized American elderberry options in North America. But within the last 20 or so years, there have been major efforts to establish a commercialized American elderberry industry by positioning farmers to grow native-to-America black elderberry or Sambucus canadensis.
Local Love for Organic American Elderberries
We all know supporting local businesses is vital for the health of our economy, but what if we told you the American elderberry plant is also better suited for products like our organic elderberry syrup than the imported European counterpart?
American elderberry has been shown to be a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc, copper and many other minerals. Elderberry is also one of the richest sources of bioflavonoids called anthocyanins – the nutrients that give organic elderberries their dark purple-black color. Studies have shown that anthocyanins may help with a variety of health issues like relieving oxidative stress, combating cancer, fighting inflammation, balancing blood sugar levels and supporting a healthy immune response. Anthocyanins are one of the major reasons why elderberry is so healthy.
See the Science
Here’s where the American elderberry versus European elderberry debate gets interesting. In looking at the anthocyanins in the Sambucus nigra (European) varieties compared to the Sambucus canadensis (American) varieties, this study posted on USDA.gov found the following:
Additional anthocyanins in the American elderberry weren’t detectable in the European elderberry. But most importantly, the anthocyanins in the American elderberry varieties are acylated. Acylated anthocyanins are important to note when looking for elderberry products on store shelves because that means they are stable during the manufacturing process and won’t break down easily. Unlike the European elderberry where anthocyanins are known to break down when heated or stored over periods of time and products are likely to lose their purple-black pigment.