Elderberry vs Blueberry; What are the health benefits?

By Hannah Whittaker RD, PGDip | Feb 12, 2024

So Elderberry vs Blueberry who wins?! Well elderberries and blueberries are two fruits that have gained a lot of attention for their health benefits, but is there any difference between the two.

As an expert Paediatric & Pregnancy Dietitian, I love how these delicious nutrient-dense fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. They also have anti-inflammatory properties to protect us from free radicals, and improve the overall health of our family. Amazing right?!

However, these two berries are very different and in this blog, I’ll talk you through Elderberry vs Blueberry. We’ll discuss the similarities and differences and what each of these juicy berries has to offer. 

Fibre Packed Positives – Elderberry vs Blueberry

Both elderberries and blueberries are packed full with fibre, which we know is great for our family’s digestive health.

Fibre in both elderberries and blueberries promotes healthy digestion by adding bulk to your stool (poop). This also helps to reduce the risk of constipation. It supports regular bowel movements, which is essential for overall gut health and this is especially important when we can struggle with constipation during pregnancy.

Not only can fibre from these berries helps us go to the bathroom, but they can help us feel fuller for longer. High-fibre foods like elderberries and blueberries can help reduce overeating and snacking between meals. 

Elderberry vs Blueberry – fibre content

When we pit Elderberry vs Blueberry, Elderberries contain slightly more fibre per serving.

A handful (80g) of Elderberries contains approximately 6 grams of fibre, while a handful of blueberries contains approximately 2.4 grams.

While elderberries have slightly more fibre per serving compared to blueberries, both are excellent choices for incorporating extra fibre and having positive effects on yours and your families diet. 

What do Elderberries look like?

Elderberries are small dark bluish-purple berries that typically grow on either an elderberry plant or tree around the world. The Sambucus nigra version is the most common European Elderberry and grows on small trees. whereas the American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) grows typically on a shrub-like plant. 

Elderberry vs Blueberry; what are the health benefits?

Elderberry Nutritional Facts

A handful serving of elderberries contains approximately 

70 calories, 

16 grams of carbohydrates, 

6 grams of fibre, 

25mg of Vitamin C!

Elderberries are a great source of Vitamin C, providing approximately 60% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) per portion (a handful).  They have also been found to contain Vitamin B.

They have a long history of traditional use and were thought to help to reduce the risk of chronic disease due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Being used to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, flu, and respiratory infections, they were historically known as part of the medicine chest. 

The medicinal use of elderberry, due to its antioxidant properties, has gained popularity in the past decade. They are now known for their vitamin C content and may help to reduce the risk of your little one catching a cough, cold or sore throat and help to stop that runny nose.

Some other recent studies have shown that elderberries may in fact relieve symptoms of flu. There is however more research needed into this.

Elderberry may be one of the emerging immune-supporting food that is one of the best nature has to offer!  

But…WARNING!

Can you eat Elderberries straight from the bush?

No, you cannot eat Elderberries straight from the bush.

Do not eat raw or uncooked berries as they can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea!

Raw elderberries contain a natural toxin that can release cyanide and could cause serious health problems. Fresh elderberries also contain components that release cyanide.  Cyanide in high amounts can cause us to feel sick and can even lead to cyanide poisoning. It is important to cook elderberries before eating.

How to eat Elderberries

Cooked, Elderberries can be consumed in several ways to enjoy their nutritious benefits. The most common uses being; as jams, syrups, juices, or in a gorgeous pie. 

I recently tried these gorgeous elderberry and dark chocolate vegan muffins recipes from the Woodland Trust – they are just delicious. Enjoy them with a hot drink, as a dessert or even for your baby’s dairy-free breakfast or snack

You can also now purchase Elderberry juice, such as this one below from Biona, It’s around £5 for 330ml and is made from organic Elderberries.

You could try mixing it with water, adding a splash into smoothies, yoghurt or as a topping for desserts and muesli. 

Image of Elderberry juice

Can toddlers take Elderberry?

Yes toddlers can take Elderberry supplements and there are lots out there on the market. I would not recommend Elderberry juice for toddlers.

Sambucol offers products specifically designed for your little ones, including Sambucol Elderberry Syrup and Elderberry Gummies for Kids. The recommended doses are below:

  • 2-3 years of age: 1 tsp (5 ml) per day
  • 4-12 years of age: 2 tsp (10 ml) per day

Sambucol also have Baby Drops from 6months+. These are easily administered as they are liquid and contain natural Black Elderberry as well as Vitamin C to help strengthen the immune system.

They drops are recommended to be given either straight into the mouth or mixed with cold/lukewarm water. You could also try blending into your babies food due to their tart taste.

The recommended daily dose is:

  • Infants 6-12months: 1ml
  • 12-36months: 2ml
Sambucol black elderberry baby drops.

Most Sambucol products are suitable for those following a vegan or plant-based diet and dairy-free. It is always important to check your labels as Sambucol Immuno Forte Pastilles (contain honey) and Sambucol Baby Powder and Sambucol Extra Defence Liquid (contains Vitamin D3, derived from sheep’s wool lanolin). Remember if a product is vegan it doesn’t always mean it is suitable for those with allergies.

Older children and adults, can also get the benefits of elderberries is by taking them as a daily supplement with elderberry extract. However, as always, it is vital to check the product’s safety for children before serving them. 

The amazing health benefits of blueberries

You will probably be more familiar with blueberries. They are a widely distributed group of perennial flowering plants with blue or purple berries.  

This small edible round berry is a very common American shrub. It can also be found in woods and hilly areas of northern Europe, Asia and the UK. They are so easy to grow at home in your garden too, and you can eat these raw berries from the bush as long as you wash them thoroughly first.

Blueberry Nutritional Facts

Approximate Nutritional Value of handful (80g) of blueberries:

45 calories.

12g of carbohydrate.

2.4g of dietary fiber.

7mg Vitamin C

Like elderberries, blueberries are also packed with fibre and vitamin C and play a crucial role in supporting bowel health and immune system.

They also provide essential nutrients that can reduce oxidative damage, supporting your body including your little ones brain development.

Blueberries are also rich in polyphenols called anthocyanins, which are responsible for their deep blue colour and the majority of their health benefits.

How should blueberries be eaten?

For your little one, you could try the blueberry puree recipe from Netmums. Add 150g of blueberries to a blender, with 2tbsp of cooled, boiled water or your baby’s usual milk. Blitz in the blender until you have a smooth puree. This can be given to your baby or frozen and defrosted until later.

If your little one is ready for more texture in their food, move on to mashed blueberries. They are also a great finger food to try.  This way, they’ll get to experience a different texture and taste. 

For adults you can add blueberries into your favourite smoothie, sprinkle on your breakfast cereal or even add them to your favourite muffin recipe to give them that nutritional kick. They are also a great addition to your recipes when you are moving up the milk ladder.

Elderberry vs Blueberry - blueberry muffins

Do blueberries reduce oxidative stress?

Yes, and so do elderberries. Having adequate fibre intake in your diet from foods such as blueberries and elderberries can also help to reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of free radicals (environmental toxins) and antioxidants in your body. One sign of oxidative stress on the body is chronic inflammation. 

Are Blueberries good for your heart?

Yes and again so are elderberries. The fibre contained in both these fruits has also been linked to improved heart health. Blueberries have be shown to reduce cholesterol levels, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is considered “bad” cholesterol. By reducing LDL cholesterol, fibre may help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke having a positive impact on the human body. 

Elderberry vs Blueberry and blood sugar

Both elderberries and blueberries can help to reduce blood sugar levels, however there is stronger evidence with blueberries than elderberries (more research is needed). This impact on blood sugar is again related to the fibre content of these food. These amazing berries can slow down the absorption of sugar from the digestive tract, preventing rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar.

So, Elderberry vs Blueberry; What are the health benefits?

Both elderberries and blueberries are remarkable fruits that offer a plethora of health benefits and both deserve a place in your families diet. There is a little more researched needed to confirm the health benefits overall of elderberries.

They don’t only enhance the flavour of your cakes, muffins, jams and breakfast time, but also contribute to your overall well-being. They both have diverse health benefits and are packed with fibre and antioxidants to help protect your body.

Just remember that although blueberries can be eaten fresh elderberries cannot and should be cooked beforehand.

ElderberriesBlueberries
AppearanceSmall dark bluish-purple berriesSmall round blue or purple berries
Nutritional Content per portions (handful) – 60kcals– 45kcals
– 15g carbohydrates– 12g carbohydrates
– 6g of fibre– 2.5g of fibre
High in Vitamin C – 25mgHigh in Vitamin C – 6mg
Health Benefits– Supports immune system– Supports immune system
– Rich in antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress– Rich in antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress
– Supports bowel health– Supports bowel health
– Supports heart health– Supports heart health
– Regulates blood sugar levels– Supports brain function
SafetyRaw berries contain toxins, must be cooked before consuming Can be eaten raw or cooked as long as washed thoroughly before.
Blueberry Vs Elderberry; What are the health benefits?
Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at | info@bump2babynutrition.com | Website | + posts

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.

Credentials

  • Registered Dietitian
  • First Class Degree in Nutrition

Experience

  • Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
  • Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
  • Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition

 

 

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