Whole Foods Magazine spoke with our Director of Science Melanie Bush to learn how elderberries can help build natural immune defenses.

Given all we’ve collectively been through in 2020, it’s no surprise that the immune support category is on the rise: A July 2020 ResearchAndMarkets report predicts that the market will grow at 9% CAGR through 2025. When it comes to supplements that support immune health, there are plenty of options that go right to immune cells themselves, but that’s just one aspect of it. Supporting the immune system involves everything from digestive health supplements to stress supplements to sleep supplements and more.

Elderberry. Elderberry has been shown in several small-scale studies to reduce duration of flu symptoms, and in one study was shown to decrease duration of illness following air travel (5). Artemis International reports that an animal study published in Science found that a specific microbe found in the gut may protect consumers of flavonoid-rich foods against the flu; Artemis noted that black elderberries are one of the foods richest in flavonoids (6). In rats, it was found to increase the number of white blood cells, thus supporting immune defense. The berries contain vitamin C as well as anthocyanins and phenolic acids, both of which are antioxidants, and flavonols including quercetin. When choosing supplements to stock, work with companies that ensure standardization of their berries, like INS Farms and Artemis. Inquire about testing—for instance, one study found that different tests can find wildly different anthocyanin content for the same sample—and only work with brands that can guarantee a quality product (5).

Read the full article on building natural immune defenses in Whole Foods Magazine.