Elderberry Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Elderberry

Elderberry.  Whiteway

With its rich and deep purple hue, the colorful elderberry packs powerful antioxidants that research suggests may boost the immune system and relieve flu-like symptoms. Rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanins that create the elderberry’s dark coloring, this berry works to keep the body strong and resistant to disease. Even though the berries are small in size, researchers believe they contain active antiviral agents potent enough to deactivate viruses in the body.

Elderberries have a rich history as well. Native Americans used them to heal infections; ancient Egyptians were found buried with them, and historians can date the berry all the way back to Hippocrates—the father of medicine. 

Nutrition Facts 

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (145g) of fresh, whole elderberries.

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 10mg
  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 1g

Elderberries deliver a valuable source of antioxidants while staying low in calories. The nutritional content of each can vary depending on the ripeness of the berry and the environment/climate in which the berry grew.

Carbs in Elderberry
For the total carbohydrate count, elderberries contain approximately 27 grams per serving, which equates to about 9% of your total recommended daily intake. Elderberries contain up to 10 grams of fiber per 145 grams (or one cup), which is about 40% of what you should eat daily. The berry falls on the low end of the glycemic index, and are presumed to not have a sizeable effect on your blood sugar content.

Fats in Elderberry
Elderberries do not contain any fat or sugar. You should, however, incorporate healthy fats into your diet. This includes foods like nuts, seed, avocados, olive oils and fatty fish like salmon.

Protein in Elderberry
As is typical of berries, the protein content of elderberries remains low. To follow a balanced diet, you should incorporate nutrient-rich proteins, such as nuts, salmon and legumes, into your daily eating routine.   

Micronutrients in Elderberry
Elderberries provide a healthy dose of Vitamin A, about 6% of your daily total. This vitamin can help you combat free radicals that damage your skin, heart and lungs. In addition, Vitamin A aids in fighting inflammation, which keeps your cells and muscles properly functioning. 

Elderberries also supply 6% of your daily dose of calcium, and serve as a substantial source of Vitamin C. This vitamin that facilitates in body tissue repair and assists in the formation of collagen.

Health Benefits

The elderberry is perhaps best known for potentially boosting the immune system due to its high bioflavonoid content (bioflavonoids are antioxidant plant nutrients that may help improve health or prevent disease). 

Common Colds/Flu
Research shows extracts, flower infusions and elderberry supplements can aid with respiratory health and work as agents fighting against the common cold and influenza.

In a 2016 study published in Nutrients, researchers found that 312 air travelers with a cold who took elderberry for 10 days before travel and up to five days after arriving at their overseas destination, experienced a significant reduction in their cold-like symptoms than those who did not take elderberry.

Similarly, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that during a flu outbreak in Panama, 93.3% of people who took elderberry syrup saw substantial improvement in their flu symptoms within 48 hours. In addition, 90% of participants felt back to normal within two to three days, as compared to almost a week in the placebo group.

Bladder Infections
Commonly affecting women, UTIs and bladder infections can cause a burning sensation when urinating, leading to a host of other side effects such as fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting.
One study found that a Brazilian laxative containing elderberry was effective in treating constipation.
Premature Aging
Elderberries can't stop the normal aging process, but their antioxidants can help to defend cells from oxidative stress that might harm otherwise healthy cells.
You do not need to ingest much to make a difference. Most studies use very small quantities and extracts

Common Questions 

Can You Experience Any Side Effects From Taking Elderberry?
Elderberry fruit is considered safe to eat, as long as you eat it in moderation and cook it first. You should not consume the bark, seeds, or uncooked or unripe berries or flowers, as they can induce severe nausea and diarrhea. In fact, uncooked berries and flowers contain a substance that can form cyanide in our bodies. But all lethal substances get removed from simply cooking the berries or steeping the flowers in boiling water to make tea.

You should also consult with a medical professional if you have any concerns about a reaction, especially if you experienced food allergies in the past. You should not take elderberries you are pregnant or nursing, and they are not recommended for children under the age of 18.

What Do the Berries Taste Like?
The uncooked berries contain a tart taste and you must cook them to eat them.
What Types of Varieties Are Available?​
The most common types of varieties of elderberries are the following:

  • The European elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which grows up to 20 feet in height and blooms much earlier than the American variety.
  • The American elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis), which grows in the wild.

Newer varieties are making their way to market, bred for their distinctive color and aromatic flowers.

Recipes and Preparation Tips 

You can grow elderberries in your own garden. Even non-green thumbs will find these berries as one of the easiest to grow. They yield a rich purple, almost black shade, creating a colorful addition to any backyard. But above all, they provide edible flowers and berries that produce high amounts of Vitamin C and antioxidants.

To cook elderberries, you can steep the flowers and create a soothing tea; simmer dried berries into a syrup; or cook them in jam, pie or wine recipes.

To make elderberry tea:

  1. Add water and elderberries into a pot.
  2. Add in spices you like, such as cinnamon or cloves.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool for about five minutes.
  5. Strain.
  6. Pour into a mug. You can also add honey or a sugar substitute cut the tartness of the berries’ flavor.

To store elderberries, simply keep them locked in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Allergies and Interactions 

Elderberries are considered safe if you cook them ahead of time. However, those with allergies to berries should avoid elderberry altogether. You also should not eat them if you have had any type of organ transplant or if you take medicine for diabetes.

Be sure to consult a medical professional if you have an autoimmune condition, as the berry could interact with your immune system. You should also be careful you take any of the following medications:

  • Corticosteroids like prednisone
  • Imuran (azathioprine)
  • Prograf (tacrolimus)
  • Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
  • Simulect (basiliximab)
  • Zenapax (daclizumab)

Always purchase elderberries from reputable sources, like grocery stores, health food stores, and reliable farmer’s markets. If you purchase elderberry as a supplement, remember that supplements are not regulated like food is. Look for reputable vendors that offer third-party proof of potency, purity, and safety. 

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.