The health benefits of mulberries include their ability to improve digestion, lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the aging process, lower blood pressure, protect eyes, and improve the overall metabolism of the body.
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What are Mulberries?
Mulberries are the sweet, hanging fruits from a genus of deciduous trees that grow in a variety of temperate areas around the world. Thought to possibly have originated in China, they have spread throughout the world and are highly praised for their unique flavor and impressive composition of nutrients. In fact, most varieties found in different parts of the world are considered to be “native” from those areas, as they are widespread. The scientific name of mulberries varies depending on which species you are looking at, the most common types are Morus australis and Morus nigra, but there are other delicious varieties as well. In terms of appearance, the berries grow very fast when they are young but gradually slow as their color changes from white or green to pink or red, and eventually settling on dark purple or even black.
The sweet or tart flavor makes these berries ideal for sherbets, jams, jellies, fruit tarts, pies, wines, teas, and cordials. In certain areas of the world, the flavors of the mulberry varieties differ, but the American mulberry and the black mulberry are considered to have the most powerful flavor and are widely sought after. Interestingly, the mulberry tree has another important resource, besides providing people with delicious berries and that is its leaves. The leaves of the mulberry tree are also the only known food source for silkworms.
Nutritional Value of Mulberries
Mulberries are filled with nutrients that are important for our body, including iron, riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium, as well as a significant amount of dietary fiber and a wide range of organic compounds, including phytonutrients, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, anthocyanins, lutein, and various polyphenolic compounds.
Health Benefits of Mulberries
For human consumption, the berries are delicious, but they are also composed of unique nutritional elements that can have various health benefits. Let’s explore what is packed inside these berries that make them so important.
Aid in Digestion
Like the majority of fruits and vegetables, mulberries contain dietary fiber, which makes approximately 10% of your daily requirements in a single serving. Dietary fiber can help to improve digestion by bulking up the stool, thereby speeding up the movement of food through the digestive tract, while also reducing occurrences of constipation, bloating, and cramping. Furthermore, fiber helps to regulate cholesterol levels and can improve heart health when regularly added to the diet.
The high levels of iron content in mulberries can significantly boost the production of red blood cells. This means that the body will increase its distribution of oxygen to important tissues and organs, thereby helping to boost metabolism and optimize the functionality of those systems.
Regulate Blood Pressure
Resveratrol is a very important flavonoid that directly affects the functioning of certain mechanisms in blood vessels, primarily making them less prone to damage by angiotensin, which can cause blood vessel constriction. In fact, resveratrol increases the production of nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes blood vessels and reduces chances of blood clot formation and subsequent heart issues like strokes or heart attacks. Resveratrol is found in many dark-skinned berries like mulberries, including most grapes, which is why this beneficial antioxidant is also found in wines.
Between the high content of anthocyanins, vitamin C, vitamin A, and various other polyphenolic and phytonutrient compounds, mulberries are absolutely packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are the main line of defense against free radicals, which form a dangerous by-product of cellular metabolism and can damage healthy cells, causing them to mutate into cancerous ones. The diverse range of antioxidants found in mulberries means that they can neutralize these free radicals quickly before too much damage is done.
One of the carotenoids found in mulberries is zeaxanthin, which has been connected directly to a reduction in oxidative stress on certain ocular cells, including the retinal macula lutea. Furthermore, zeaxanthin functions as an antioxidant and prevents certain damage to the retina, including the free radicals that can cause macular degeneration and cataracts.
Vitamin C is a powerful defensive weapon against any illness or foreign pathogens in the body that antioxidants don’t take care of. A single serving of mulberries is almost the entire requirement of vitamin C for the day, but combine that with the minerals and vitamins present in this fruit, and you have a true weapon against illness. Add a few mulberries to your morning meal and watch your immune system soar.
Build Healthy Bones
Vitamin K, calcium, and iron, as well as the trace amounts of phosphorous and magnesium found in mulberries, can all be beneficial for the creation and maintenance of bone tissue. As we get older, maintaining strong bones, speeding up the healing process or even reversing the damage of bone degradation is important to prevent conditions like osteoporosis or other age-related bone disorders.
Prevent Premature Aging
Mulberries also boast a high level of vitamin A and vitamin E, along with a range of carotenoid components like lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and alpha-carotene. All of these elements act as antioxidants that specifically affect the skin, tissue, hair, and other areas of the body where free radicals strike. Mulberries can aid in skin care, reduce the appearance of blemishes and age spots, and keep hair shiny and healthy by preventing the oxidative actions of free radicals.
Word of Caution: Some mulberries are very good at lowering blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for particular people, but also very dangerous for others. Also, there are rare cases of allergies to mulberry, so use them in moderation and monitor your body’s reaction if you are eating them for the first time.