Our exploration of superfruit supplements takes us from the subarctic regions of northern Sweden, down to the Amazon River Basin of Brazil, to the rural mountains of northwest Mongolia and back to more familiar territory at home in North America.
Here’s the lowdown on our 5 favorite berry-based supplements.
Our first beneficial berry comes to us from a large genus of shrubs and trees that grow wild in the temperate regions of northern Europe, Asia, and North America. The thorny branches of the hawthorn tree, also known as the thornapple, May-tree, or whitehorn, produce small red pome fruit called ‘haw berries’ or hawthorn berries. Hawthorn berries are a source of bioflavonoids and other antioxidant compounds, and as a nutritional supplement, they’re traditionally used to support heart health.* Though edible, their flavor is often likened to that of an over-ripe apple. In the United Kingdom, the berries are sometimes used to make jelly or homemade wine.
Nope – you didn’t misread that—and we didn’t accidentally misspell ‘blueberries.’ In fact, the bilberry is closely related to its cousin the blueberry, and to cause further confusion, the name ‘bilberry’ actually translates as ‘blueberry’ in several languages. These edible berries come from a hardy shrub that grows in acidic, nutrient-poor soils throughout the northern and subarctic world – especially Sweden, where up to a fifth of the nation’s land area contains bilberry bushes. Widely known to herbalists since the 16th century, bilberries possess antioxidant properties and help support healthy eye function.*
Interestingly, British Royal Air Force pilots were known to consume bilberries before flying in the dark during World War II to support night vision.*
Sambucus nigra, commonly known as elder, elderberry, or black elderberry, is a species of deciduous, flowering shrubs or small trees native to most of Europe and North America. The elder tree bears a fruit that is a glossy dark purple or black berry, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn.
As a nutritional supplement, Elderberry Sambucus is a traditional herb for immune support.*
The berries are edible when fully ripe and after cooking, but mildly poisonous when unripe. Elderberries are famously harvested for elderberry wine and liqueur, and the elderberry brandy enjoyed in Hungary requires over 100 pounds of berries per liter of brandy!
The next leg of our journey takes us southward to the swamps and rainforests of Brazil, Trinidad, and northern South America where the tall and slender acai palm grows to heights of over 80 feet. The acai fruit (pronounced ah-sigh-eee) is a small, round, black-purple berry similar to a grape, but smaller. Acai’s antioxidant benefits can also be enjoyed as a nutritional supplement that’s derived from the extract of acai berries.* Acai berries have recently gained mainstream popularity as an ingredient in smoothies, juice blends, and fruit bowls sold at urban health food stores.
Sea Buckthorn, also known as seaberry, Siberian pineapple, and Alpine sandthorn, is a genus of shrubs bearing yellow-orange berries found throughout Europe and as far away as Mongolia and China. American beauty bloggers, including our own social media assistant Melissa, have recently begun singing the praises of this buzzworthy berry because it nutritionally supports skin health.* Sea Buckthorn can be consumed as a supplement in softgel or liquid form, as an oil applied directly to the skin, or as an ingredient in other moisturizing products, like this one.