This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Putting together your weight loss diet can be confusing. You might have heard of elderberries, are they good for weight loss?
Elderberries are used for many supposed health benefits inlcuding weight loss. For some health benefits the evidence is not very strong but for weight loss they do have potential.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t eat an elderberry raw. This can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
There are also different ways elderberries get prepared. Some examples are tea, syrup, juice, and supplements. Not all of these are great for weight loss.
Safe ways to consume elderberries
Uncooked elderberries and other parts of the plant like leaves, twigs, bark, and roots are not recommended for consumption. These parts of the plant and the uncooked berries contain cyanogenic glycosides, substances that can lead to nausea vomiting, and diarrhea (1).
These toxic substances can be removed from the berries by cooking them. Even the leaves, twigs, bark, and roots are not suited for cooking or juicing.
The nutrition facts of elderberries used for this article are for raw elderberries. Cooking them won’t make a significant difference in the nutrients important for weight loss.
Calories in elderberries
The total number of calories in elderberries is not the only thing that influences weight loss but it does offer some helpful information.
100 grams of raw elderberries contain around 73 calories per 100 grams (2).
The first thing to note is that about 28 of these calories come from fiber. A lot of these calories will not actually get absorbed into your body.
That means that elderberries are about average compared to other fruits when it comes to absorbable calories. In turn, they are relatively low in calories compared to many other food categories.
66.6 of the calories above come from carbohydrates (18.4 g per 100 grams of which 7 g fiber).
This means elderberries are not that good for low-carb diets. Especially very low-carb ones like keto.
Micronutrients in elderberries
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in elderberries.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of raw elderberries provides you with approximately (2):
- Vitamin C: 60% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin A: 12% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
- Iron: 9% of the DV
- Potassium: 8% of the DV
- Thiamin: 5% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. The amount of vitamin C is great. There is a nice amount of vitamins and minerals but the numbers are not that great compared to a lot of other whole foods.
Elderberries are not really your go-to food if you’re looking to consume more vitamins and minerals. That being said, small amounts do add up.
Elderberries also contain anti-oxidants. These are substances that help your body deal with oxidative stress.
Fiber in elderberries for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
Elderberries contain around 7 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
That’s a very big amount of fiber per 100 grams and that’s a good thing.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in eldererries you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a lot.
Do elderberries help you lose weight?
From the nutrients discussed, you can conclude that elderberries will be relatively filling, be low in calories, and offer a few extra vitamins and minerals.
The result of this is that eating elderberries will likely help you lose weight.
By eating this food, you will likely consume less of other foods that are not as good for weight loss. You can also choose to replace suboptimal foods with elderberries to lose more weight.
At the same time, you need to know that just adding elderberries to your diet without making other changes could actually make you gain a tiny amount of weight.
Additionally, it is still important for weight loss and health to consume sufficient amounts of other nutrients like protein. Elderberries do not really help with many of these.
Lastly, certain fruits and vegetables will be even more helpful than elderberries.
Is it OK to eat elderberries every day to lose weight?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
If you’re looking to achieve a calorie deficit and getting a nice amount of micronutrients without feeling too hungry elderberries can be ok to eat every day. At the moment there are no anticipated side effects if you boil the elderberries (1).
To play it safe some population groups like children, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and people who regularly take medication shouldn’t take elderberries anyway.
Best time to eat elderberries to lose weight
The calories in elderberries are mainly from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates raise insulin. Insulin in turn can mess with the production of sleep hormones. Sleep is important for your weight loss and health.
That’s why you preferably want to consume them earlier in the day or at least not right before bed. For eldeberries the time you eat them won’t make too much of a difference for weight loss. That’s because of their low calorie and high fiber contents.
Different ways to consume elderberries for weight loss
Like with a lot of other foods, elderberries are used in many different ways for consumption. Some of these other ways of consuming elderberries are not as good for weight loss.
Find out which elderberry products you should consume if you’re looking to lose weight.
Elderberry tea works similar to other teas. You let some parts of the plant simmer in hot water.
Don’t consume any elderberry tea made with leaves, twigs, bark,… This kind of tea can cause vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. You basically only want to use boiled elderberries.
Drinking more water is great for most people trying to lose weight. Some benefits include burning more calories and feeling fuller. Elderberry tea can offer the same benefits for weight loss.
Besides the water in it, there are no clear benefits of elderberry tea for weight loss. If it helps you drink more water throughout the day it might be worth it to add this drink to your diet.
Elderberry juice may be slightly lower in calories per 100 grams but it’s not good for weight loss at all (3).
The juice does not contain the valuable fiber that is present in regular elderberries. Fiber is the substance that helps you feel full. It’s easy to overeat on calories if you’re drinking elderberry juice.
On top of that, manufacturers often add extra sugar. You should avoid these elderberry juices even more if you’re looking to lose weight.
Elderberry syrup is basically a fluid with the sugar from this berry in a very concentrated dose. That means a lot of calories without filling you up that much.
A benefit of elderberry syrup is that the antioxidant contents may be high but that’s not enough to make it good for weight loss.
The main reason people take elderberry supplements like powders and gummies is to increase their intake of certain substances like for example antioxidants.
It’s not clear just how much anti-oxidants benefit weight loss but chances are it’s not very big.
Best way to consume elderberries for weight loss
The best way to consume elderberries for weight loss is to eat them in their boiled whole form, as regular boiled berries.
You can eat them on their own, with some yogurt, or with some oatmeal.
The right kind of elderberry tea may help you lose weight by increasing your water intake. A regular glass of water most likely helps you lose just as much weight.
Elderberry supplements most likely don’t help you lose any significant amount of weight. Elderberry syrup and juice will most likely even make you gain weight.
How can elderberries help you lose weight?
Boiled elderberries can help you lose weight by providing a big amount of fiber and some extra vitamins, and minerals without adding too many calories to your diet.
This benefits your weight loss by helping you feel fuller without as many calories. Feeling less hungry will help you prevent overeating on calories.
The right kind of boiled elderberries are a great weight loss food compared to many other whole foods. You do have to keep in mind that the rest of your diet matters a lot too.