Elderberry – calories, nutritional values, healing properties and curiosities

Elderberry (Latin: Sambucus nigra) has been appreciated by folk medicine, but today, when our first aid kits are full of medicines, it has been somewhat forgotten. It is, however, a little dusted up knowledge about this plant. Black lilac blooms in April and May, it is good to prepare early for the harvest of his flowers. The fruits ripen from August to October and persist on the plant in the form of hanging fruiting.


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Elderberry – nutritional values ​​and healing properties

Elderberry edible and fruit, and flowers. In the case of the former, however, you have to be careful to collect ripe fruit. These immature negatively affect the human body – in all parts of the fresh plant, there are cyanogenic glucose, sambunigrin and sambucine, which are poisonous to humans, poisoning symptoms include weakness, headaches and dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pulse acceleration and breathing disorders . This does not mean, however, that elderberry must be feared or avoided from a distance, on the contrary – both flowers and fruits subjected to heat treatment (cooking, frying) lose their harmful effects. 100 grams of fresh elderberry contains about 73 calories (kcal). It is not much for the strong action of this inconspicuous plant. Black lilac and elderberry juice contains many valuable vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – in black sugar we find vitamin C, B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, vitamin H), beta carotene, iron (non-heme), potassium, phosphorus, copper. Elderberry flavonoids – quercetin, rutin, kemferol, chlorogenic acid, essential oils, tannins. They owe their violet-black color to anthocyanins – the elderberry fruits alongside chokeberry and blueberry are the largest source of these valuable flavonoids. The elderberry fruits contain a lot of dietary fiber.

The action of black elderberry is extraordinary. Folk medicine most often used its properties in various types of colds and flu. All because elderberry contains valuable oils and tannins, thanks to which the consumed plant has an expectorant, antibacterial and antiviral effect. In addition, elderberry greatly strengthens the body’s immunity and soothes cold symptoms such as runny nose. This plant is helpful especially with various types of inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Due to the presence of numerous antioxidants, black has antioxidant properties and protects against oxidative stress.

The flowers have diuretic, diaphoretic, antipyretic, expectorant, and externally also anti-inflammatory. Infusions of flowers are used for colds, for the treatment of various types of rhinitis and inflammation of the airways and rheumatic diseases. Externally, flower infusions are washed with skin inflammation, skin blemishes and burns, rinsing the mouth and throat in case of inflammation, and washed eyes with conjunctivitis. Infusions of elderberry flowers with colds have a much stronger effect than infusions from a well-known lime tree

Calories and nutritional values ​​- elderberry

Ingredient Content in 100 g

Calories (energy value) 73 kcal / 305 kJ

0.66 g protein

Total fat 0.50 g

Carbohydrates 18.4 g

Dietary fiber 7 g

How to eat elderberry?

Lilac flowers can be incorporated into the daily diet in several ways. Above all, it is worth to bet on juice. You can prepare home-made juice without any problems, of course from ripe fruit. The fruit is boiled with enough water to cover the fruit. It is necessary to cook the fruit under cover until they release the juice, then they should be separated and wiped through a sieve. A natural sweetener can be added to the juice – eg honey or xylitol. The juice should be stored in the fridge or pasteurized in jars. You can also prepare delicious jams and marmalades from the elderberry fruit. To obtain interesting flavor compositions, mix without, for example, raspberries or blackberries. However, remember to collect only ripe elderberry fruits.

You can also dry the flowers to be able to use them all year. Of course, to dry we use a lilac growing far from the city and from the street, to be sure that the tree did not absorb harmful substances such as heavy metals. Dried flowers can be used to prepare the infusion. Elderberry infusion can be varied with various additions – it will taste great with a slice of lemon and a teaspoon of honey. In winter, the infusion can be drunk on hot, like tea, especially with a cold. In summer, you can drink a cool brew for strengthening immunity and improving well-being. It is also worth preparing a syrup from elderflower flowers. Flowers just pour boiling water and leave for several hours, then heat with sugar and lemon juice. Then you have to close the syrup in the jars and put it upside down.


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Why is it worth eating pear?

Pears are fruits that far too rarely appear in our menu! Summer is coming – the time of the year when buying these fruits should not cause any problems. Even better, if we have access to pears in home orchards or gardeners’ friends, the fresh fruits picked from the tree are characterized by the highest health and nutritional value. 


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As confirmed by American scientists, regular consumption of pears – similarly to apples or plums, can significantly reduce the risk of selected cancer diseases, mainly due to the content of numerous polyphenolic compounds such as chlorogenic acid, coumaric acid, arbutin, quercetin, catechins, epicatechin , carotenoids or lutein and zeaxanthin. All of these compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are crucial in inhibiting the development of many chronic diseases – including cancer. As shown by the results of studies conducted on a large group of elderly people, eating two servings of pears a day can significantly reduce the risk of development, stomach cancer or esophagus. 

Pears are a very good source of fiber – both soluble and insoluble fractions, which combined with a large amount of phenolic compounds allows you to regulate processes related to glucose metabolism, and also positively affects the lipid profile of the blood. Phenolic compounds improve the sensitivity of tissues to insulin – it is assumed that this is done by regulating an important enzyme, NADH oxidase. Pears are also a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, which proper participation in the diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension or atherosclerosis. 


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Does fruit always mean healthy?

Although we are not all aware of this, we use a simplified thinking pattern every day when we choose food items. In order to buy a healthy and valuable product, we rarely carefully inspect the labels by analyzing the composition and nutritional values, and more often we rely on a superficial assessment reduced only to play in associations. And so, in accordance with this principle, we used to recognize that if a given product is fruity it is also healthy and valuable, but is this way of thinking really justified? 


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We are all well aware that fruits and vegetables are a fairly valuable source of vitamins, fiber, minerals and many other substances valuable for health. This conviction is so strongly rooted that it managed to consolidate the simplified thinking pattern according to which everything that is obtained from vegetables and fruits (or simply is vegetable or fruit) is perceived as healthy and valuable. In the meantime, as practice shows, it does not have to be that way, which is easy to find a lot of evidence for. 


The basic problem with fruit products

On the one hand, that they are actually the fruits of advanced food industry technology, i.e. they are highly processed. Process of technological processing, although it has its numerous advantages (improvement of taste values, extension of durability, shortening preparation time), very often leads to adverse changes in the nutritional value of the product which is associated on the one hand with the loss of desirable ingredients (lowering nutritional and health), on the other – with the enrichment of undesirable ingredients (eg sugar, preservatives). Finally, fruit products are the most often a mixture of sugars with a subtle addition of fruit components. 

An excellent example of products with fruit

The name that seemingly are healthy and valuable include even fruit yoghurts and other dairy products, which are simply a rich source of sugar. Another example is fruit juices, also a rich source of sucrose. All kinds of bars, breakfast products, jam and mousses, fruit drinks, most often also nutritional value resemble sweets. What is important is that some products (those with fruit flavors) are not related to fruit at all. The flavors and synthetic, natural and identical to natural flavors are responsible for their taste qualities. 

Fruit – in the case of food products – does not mean healthy or valuable.

It is worth remembering, because entrusting to the first impression, you can easily cut into food sells that are only a concentrated source of sugar. In order to select good quality products, first of all, carefully check the labels by verifying the composition and nutritional values. 


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The advantages of eating two bananas a day

Bananas is one of the most popular fruit in the world. They are valued mainly due to the richness of nutritional value, availability and a relatively low price.

Do you realize the benefits of regular consumption? Eating two bananas a day helps in controlling blood pressure, maintaining healthy bowels, losing weight and protecting your eyesight. 


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Bananas contain sucrose and fructose, sugars that give them a sweet taste. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamins B6, C, manganese and potassium. The medium-sized banana contains 467 milligrams of potassium, and only 1 milligram of sodium, which can protect against atherosclerosis. Potassium has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, but also has a positive effect on the condition of the bones – it reduces the excretion of calcium in the urine. Thanks to this, it delays the effects of osteoporosis. 

As with most fruits, the nutrient content changes as they mature. The more ripe the banana, the darker the skin becomes. These fruits contain the largest amount of TNF, a protein that strengthens the immune system. This nutrient protects us not only against infections, but also increases our body’s ability to destroy cancer cells. 

Bananas with dark spots much more effectively improve the functions of white blood cells than green bananas, so it is not worth to throw them out and write off. Ripe fruit is also easier to digest and thanks to the sweet taste can be a substitute for sweets. 

If we want to make better use of health-promoting properties of bananas, it is worth eating one or two meals a day. There are no contraindications before eating them during a slimming diet. Despite the fact that they are more caloric than other fruits, the multiplicity of their advantages speaks strongly in their favor. Calorie banana is not so large that it could harm our figure. Just remember to include bananas in your calorie balance. 


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Caloric densities of meals – what to eat to lose weight without feeling hungry?

Can you eat a lot and do not gain weight? And even lose weight? You’ll probably say no. And yet! And there is no paradox in it. It is enough to choose the appropriate product groups, i.e. those with low caloric density (energy). When planning your nutrition in this way, you will not go hungry even on a slimming low-calorie diet. 

Caloric density (otherwise energy density) is the calorie content in a certain volume of the product. Usually it is given for 100 grams, you will also find this information on food packaging. The simplest thing about caloric density can be said to be the packaging of calories in a food product. In order for your figure and health condition to benefit from what you eat, choose products with low caloric density, which usually carry a high nutritional density (meaning they contain in 100 grams large amounts of valuable nutrients), and a wide arc bypass those of high density caloric. 


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What products have low and what high caloric density? 

The general principle is that the caloric density is low due to the high water content in the product, and high in the presence of fat and sugars. It is therefore easy to guess that the low-caloric food group includes vegetables and most fruits, skinny dairy products, poultry and whole grains, and calorie-rich products like sweets, cheeses, highly processed foods and greasy meats. Differences in products with high and low caloric density are most easily compared on the example of a chocolate bar and fruit, e.g. apples. By eating 100 grams Mars bar, or 2 pieces, you deliver to the body 414 kcal in the form of fat and sugar, with no nutritional value. 100 grams of apples is only 46 kcal. To take as many calories as bars, you would have to eat as many as 12. 

Why is caloric density important when slimming? 

When you decide to lose weight, you need to verify your approach to eating and replace most of the products used so far for healthier ones. The overwhelming number of overweight and obese people use inappropriate products in the kitchen, ie thick calories. By simply limiting their number to ensure the calorie of your daily menu, for example, 1500 kcal, you will still go hungry and frustrated, and the enthusiasm for slimming will quickly pass. In addition, eating too small volumes of food causes the body to enter the mode of economical management, and accumulated fat will not be readily burned by him. What is the conclusion from this? Eat a lot of low-calorie food! Instead of a slice of tomato on a sandwich, eat it all. And add the cucumber. The calorific value of your meal will hardly change at all, because vegetables are mainly water (78-95%), the stomach will be more full and you will be more sated. In addition, vegetables provide fiber, which is responsible for slower release of glucose into the blood, reduces hunger pangs of hunger, gives a feeling of satiety and regulates the rhythm of bowel movements. 


Choosing products with low caloric density (energy) is a key principle on which the volumetric diet is based. 


How to choose products with low caloric density? 


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Changing eating habits is not an easy process and requires some knowledge about the food and its properties. Creating your nutritional plan based on caloric density information is not an exception in this topic, but with some general information, you can deal with it efficiently. Let’s look at the energy density of products from particular floors of the healthy nutrition pyramid. 

Whole grain cereal products 

Do you cook buckwheat or rice in sacks? You regularly treadIn a plastic bag for rice and kasha, a toxic substance is present. Regularly consumed, it ruins health. 


Cereal products provide carbohydrates – one of the basic nutrients that should not be overlooked even on a slimming diet. Whole grain products are the best solution because in addition to energy they provide fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium and iron. They are digested more slowly and sustain the feeling of satiety. Choose whole-wheat bread, whole-meal pasta, brown rice, cereals and cereal. 


The vast majority of vegetables is low in calories due to the very high water content. The main reasons here are lettuce, asparagus, zucchini or broccoli, which do not have more than 25 kcal / 100 g. To make the dinner larger and more salty, reduce the amount of pasta or meat sauce, and for this add more vegetables with impunity. Eat also vegetables as a snack. 



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Choose fresh or frozen fruits. Dried fruits or syrups have a high energy density because they contain a lot of sugar in a small volume. Also watch out for bananas, figs and grapes that belong to the most calorie fruit. Fruit, unfortunately, can not be treated as unpunished as vegetables, because they are a source of easily digestible sugars that are eaten in excess in the form of adipose tissue. 

Milk and its preparations 

From this group you can easily choose milk, lean curds, country cheeses, kefir, buttermilk and natural yoghurts. Avoid the yellow cheeses, which contain about 50% fat, as well as melted and moldy cheeses. You will provide yourself valuable protein and fat-soluble vitamins, and you will also get saturated, because protein products sustain the satiety effect for a long time. 


Pitaya (dragon fruit) – properties and nutritional values. How to peel and eat pitaya?

Pitaya (dragon fruit) and its health properties were already known to ancient tribes inhabiting South America.
Now, scientists have looked at them who have found that pitaya – apart from numerous vitamins and minerals – also contains substances that give it antioxidant effects. obesity and diseases associated with it. Check what properties pitaya has, and how to peel and eat dragon fruit.

Pitaja (pitahaya), a dragon fruit or strawberry pear, is an exotic fruit of some cactus species, whose health was first known to the people of South America, where it comes from. Currently, this fruit is grown mainly in Asian countries. Pitaya has an oval shape, it is reddish or a yellowish skin, ending with long, pointed leaves – hence the name of a dragon fruit, his family is a pitaya from Costa Rica – a fruit with a red skin and the same flesh – and a yellow pitaya whose skin is yellow and the flesh white.

Pitaya (dragon fruit) – an antioxidant that protects the circulatory system

Pitaya is a fruit rich in betalayas – natural dyes that include red-violet betacins and yellow-orange betaxanthin.
Pitaya is the fruit of a cactus that has drooping, fleshy arms, completed during flowering with large, white flowers that bloom only one night, but several times a year. A month after flowering, pitai fruits are harvested.
Betaalain compounds are not widely distributed in plant foods, they are found only in pitai, red beets, chard, opuntia, ulluko and amaranth. Previous studies show that beta-betains are characterized by strong antioxidant properties.
Betaalain has also been shown to inhibit lipid oxidation, protect against red blood cells and counteract cardiotoxicity during cancer chemotherapy in mice. Cardiotoxicity is a change in the cardiovascular system, e.g. due to the duration of chemotherapy or radiotherapy or immediately after its completion .


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Pitaya (dragon fruit) – reduces insulin resistance

According to the research of scientists from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou (China), dragon fruit can protect against obesity and related diseases such as insulin resistance or fatty liver. In one study involved mice on a high fat diet . They were given an extract After the experiment, it turned out that mice lost weight and decreased their risk of fatty liver, insulin resistance and inflammation. According to Chinese researchers, substances that are responsible for such properties of dragon fruit are already mentioned betalains.

Pitaya (dragon fruit) can cause allergies

There is a known case of allergic reaction after ingestion of dragon fruit,  confirmed by allergy tests, but it should be emphasized that the person who had allergy to this fruit had a history of atopic dermatitis and eczema and symptoms of allergy to birch pollen. That pitaya increases the risk of food allergies in people who are already allergic.

Pitaya (dragon fruit) – How to peel and eat? How does it taste?

I should cut the meat in half, like kiwi. Then a white flesh will appear, densely strewn with tiny black stones that can be extracted using a teaspoon. It has a taste reminiscent of a mix of kiwi and melon – it is sweet, but for some too bland. Pips are edible, so you do not need to get rid of them.

Pitaya (dragon fruit) – use in the kitchen

Pitaya is a refreshing fruit that will work as a component of ice cream, cakes, creams, cocktails and mousses. The cooling of the fruit strengthens its exotic taste. The dragon fruit can also be added to salads. This also tastes well pitai juice. The flowers of this plant are also edible – fresh are used as additives to dishes or desserts, while dried ones are made into a brew.
In turn, powdered drink can be added to smoothies, smoothies, shakes and yoghurts, and can also be an addition to cakes and desserts.
Recipe for dragon fruit carpaccio


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8 portions of vegetables and fruit prolongs life!

High intake of vegetables and fruit is one of the foundations of a healthy diet, which was recommended and confirmed, among others, by developing in 2016 by the Institute of Food and Nutrition – The New Pyramid the principles of proper nutrition and physical activity. The reason for the changes are increasing at an alarming rate of cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are the main cause of premature deaths worldwide (in 2013 about 25 million deaths). These recommendations, in particular, are based on the results of epidemiological studies that showed a reverse relationship between high consumption of vegetables and fruits and the risk of developing some cancers, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, when asked what is the optimal amount of vegetable and fruit intake,in order to reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases and premature death, it has remained unanswered so far.

The recommended amount of fruit and vegetables consumed is varied, and so WHO is recommended 400g / day, in Sweden up to 500g / day, while in Norway 650-750g / day and in the USA up to 800g / day.

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on February 22 this year shows that the cliché “five servings” is not enough. A comprehensive meta-analysis of 142 articles from 95 population studies showed that in people who consumed 800g of fruit and vegetables or 8 portions of vegetables and fruits during the day, the risk of premature death decreased by almost half and the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25% , compared to people who ate vegetables and fruits in small amounts or did not enjoy the benefits of nature at all.

Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, ie, vitamin C, flavonoids, potassium, etc. All these ingredients are associated with behavior or faster recovery. High fiber intake is helpful in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. It also improves the functioning of blood vessels, which contributes to its special role in the prevention of overweight and obesity. In addition, the role of antioxidants is, among others, counteracting free radicals in the destruction of genetic material. The compounds contained in vegetables and fruits also positively affect the work of the intestinal microflora.

The analysis carried out, inter alia, by Dagfinn Aune of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Imperial College London, shows that 8 million could be prevented. deaths all over the world every year, if people would eat more vegetables and fruits. The author of the research makes us realize that the more vegetables and fruits found in the diet, the lower the risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer as well as premature death.

A study by Aune and his colleagues is one of the largest describing this topic. Each of the analyzes that participated in the review included information on several hundred thousand people.

8 servings are a lot, but there is nothing to be discouraged. The authors of the study proved that the increase in vegetable and fruit intake by 200g is associated with a reduction in the risk of chronic diseases by as much as 11%.

The question is whether all vegetables and fruits have such a beneficial effect on health? It turns out that no! The researcher showed that apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C were the only ones that reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. It is worth noting that fruit products were associated with an increased risk of the above disease states.

Or maybe go for the easy and take some supplements? Well, no! The co-author of the Aune study makes us realize that supplementing the diet with antioxidants or vitamins in the form of supplements will not bring the same beneficial effects as eating vegetables and fruits. Probably because of the package of active substances that occur in them that interact with each other to achieve the best goal – a healthy body.

It’s worth taking a risk and instead of a magic “five servings”, put on some 8.