Elderberries are the delicious fruit berries belonging to the Sambucus genus of the flowering plant of the Adoxaceae family. These berries are mainly found in the temperate to subtropical regions of the world and are widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, and also in some regions of southern Hemisphere like Australia, Asia, and South America. These berries are an excellent source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and polyphenols, etc. and provides a number of health and beauty benefits. However, too much of everything is bad and the same is true for the elderberries. In this article, we will know about the major side effects of eating too many elderberries, but first, let’s take a look at the below-mentioned nutrition chart of elderberries.
Side Effects of Eating Too Many Elderberries
(1) Too Much Dietary Fiber Is Bad For Stomach
Elderberries are very useful for our stomach and improve our digestive health.
This benefit of elderberries is mainly due to the presence of dietary fibers in them. The dietary fibers present in the elderberries acts as a natural laxative which means they improve bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of stool from our system. This provides relief from constipation and also helps in the treatment of various digestive problems such as abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating and flatulence, etc.
Although dietary fibers are good for our digestive health, it is advisable to consume elderberries in moderation. This is because excess intake of dietary fibers has been found to give rise to various health issues such as poor absorption of nutrients by our intestines, intestinal gas, intestinal blockage and bloating, etc.
Dietary fibers are also known to increases the absorption of excess water from our system, and this advantage of it helps in providing relief from problems such as diarrhea. However, if there is too much fiber in your diet without having plenty of water then it may increase the risk of dehydration in the body and also increases the risk of indigestion, constipation and abdominal pain, etc.
(2) Too Many Antioxidants Are Bad
Elderberries are a good source of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols, etc. in them.
The antioxidants and the relevant compounds present in the elderberries fights with the free radicals of our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells and tissues, and reduces the risk of various cancers.
Free radicals are nothing but the unstabilized ions that get formed in our body during the oxidation process. As these are unstabilized, so, they steal electrons from the neighboring molecules and while doing so, it causes oxidative damage to them.
Antioxidants also aid in the proper elimination of toxins and other impurities from our system, and this helps our vital organs like liver and kidneys to great extent and allows them to focus on other functions they need to perform.
There are also some other benefits provided by antioxidants like strengthening the immune system, improving cardiovascular health, improving cognitive functions like concentration and memory, and so on.
Undoubtedly, antioxidants are good for us and provide a number of benefits, it is advisable to be on the safe side and consume elderberries in moderation. This is because it has been found that a high intake of antioxidants in our system can do more harm than the good.
As per a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, it was found that smokers who took beta-carotene supplements( an antioxidant) for a long period of time were more likely to develop lung cancer in comparison to the individuals who didn’t. Another study conducted by the office of the dietary supplements found that the high level of vitamin E in our system increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in the system.
This negative effect of the antioxidants is because of the way, antioxidants interact with the cells and tissues of our system.
When antioxidants are taken in moderation then they only interact with the free radicals of our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells and tissue, and thus reduces the risk of various cancers, and provides a number of other benefits.
However, when there are too many antioxidants in our system then they first interact with the free radicals of the body and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, and then they start interacting with the healthy cells of our body and starts causing oxidative damage to them ( just like the free radicals).
(3) May Cause Toxic Effects
Black elderberry can be toxic in nature because of the presence of a cyanide-related compound in it. The leaves, seeds, and bark of the black elderberry tree are known to cause poisonous effects if consumed. Same is true for eating elderberries that are unripe and not cooked thoroughly. As explained by the U.S. National Institute of health.
Some common symptoms of ingesting these toxic elderberries are gastrointestinal problems like abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.
Some other health issues that may arise from consuming unripe elderberries are a headache, dizziness, weakness, seizures and rapid heartbeat.
(4) Is Diuretic In Nature
Elderberries are diuretic in nature which means they enhance the production of urine in our body, and this property of elderberries helps in eliminating excess fluid from our body. This is very useful for the individuals especially the elders who find it difficult to excrete fluid from the system in a natural manner because of their weak bodily functions ( because of old age, health problems, and other complication).
Although the diuretic properties of elderberries are good for us, it is advisable to be on the safe side and enjoy them in moderation. This is because too many diuretics can cause dysfunction of the kidneys and also put the burden on our vital organ.
Taking food with diuretic property means getting yourself ready for the frequent bathroom trip, and if you have eaten too much of such fruit like elderberries then it means even more trip. It can lead to loss of not just the excess fluid but even the necessary fluid and water balance which is required for maintaining proper functioning of the body.
(5) May Cause Hypoglycemia
Elder may decrease blood sugar levels, and the National Institutes of Health advises people taking medications such as metformin or insulin to regulate blood sugar to be cautious about using elderberry supplements. Taking elderberry along with these medications may increase the risk of developing low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia.
Elderberries are found to be very beneficial for individuals suffering from diabetes and for those who are at the risk of developing diabetes. This benefit of elderberries is mainly because of its low glycemic index.
Glycemic index of a fruit determines the rate at which a particular food item will release sugar into the bloodstream. Being a low glycemic index fruit, it releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slow pace and prevents a sudden spike in the blood sugar level. This aids in regulating blood sugar level and helps in managing diabetes.
Additionally, the dietary fibers present in the elderberries reduces the rate at which sugar gets absorbed by the bloodstream and thus helps in regulating our blood sugar level.
Although elderberries are good for the people with diabetes, it is advisable to be on the safe side and enjoy these berries in moderation. This is because too much of these berries may lower our blood sugar to a very low level and thereby increases the risk of hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the blood sugar level of a person drops down below the normal range and is characterized by various symptoms such as fainting, headache, lightheadedness, excessive hunger, excessive sweating, nausea, dryness of mouth, tingling lips, etc.
Also, if you are a diabetic patient and already taking medications like metformin or insulin etc. for keeping blood sugar level under control, then it becomes even more important to keep a watch on your elderberries consumption and consume them and only after talking with your doctor first. This is because elderberries may interfere with diabetic medication and may worsen the situation.
(6) May Cause Allergic Reactions
Elderberries are an excellent source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and dietary fibers, etc. and the presence of these compounds make these berries very beneficial for us. They provide a number of health benefits and as well as beauty benefits for our hair and skin. However, not everyone can enjoy these benefits.
Like many other things, elderberries may suit some people and may not suit others. Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to consuming elderberries and they should avoid elderberries completely. Some common signs of elderberry allergy are rashes, swollen lips, irritation in the throat, itching, and difficulty in breathing.
(7) Not so Good For Pregnant And Nursing Women
Elderberries are not suitable for pregnant and nursing mothers because of their ability to increase the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and premature labor.
For this reason, women in their pregnancy and nursing stage are advised to remove elderberries from their fruit plate.
Although, elderberries are a good source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, etc. that provides a number of benefits during the pregnancy and nursing stage.
Antioxidants like vitamin C and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols etc. protect the uterus and the baby developing in the womb from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals of the body. They also help in the proper elimination of toxins from our system.
Additionally, the nutrients like vitamins and minerals, etc. present in the elderberries provide nourishment to our system and help in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
However, when it comes to maintaining healthy pregnancy then the damage caused by the elderberries ( during pregnancy and nursing stage) outweighs the benefits provided by them, and for this reason, it is a good idea to avoid elderberries during the pregnancy and nursing stage.
The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.