Dried fruits are a commonly known — and loved — ingredient found in most kitchens. They’re a great source of fiber and vitamins when purchased unsweetened and raw. They also make a great replacement to sugary syrups in energy bars, granola, oatmeal or quinoa porridge, and baked goods of all kinds.
Along with raisins, dates, and figs — which are all great for your heart health — why not consider the mulberry to add a boost to your liver health, too?
What are mulberries?
In case you haven’t heard of this delicious superfood yet, it’s time to listen up! Mulberries started gaining attention around 2012, when they became a well-known superfood that helps promote alkalinity, blood sugar regulation, and even weight loss.
The mulberry plant produces the mulberry fruit in various regions across the world. The berries themselves look a bit like a thinner blackberry, and can range in color from red to pink, white, purple, and even a gorgeous blackish-cobalt blue color.
Like all berries, mulberries are packed with antioxidants, primarily high levels of vitamin C and polyphenols. Polyphenols help protect the heart and brain, and also help improve immune health by fighting off free radicals.
Mulberries and your liver
Mulberries help detoxify the body from harmful substances, and improve blood health and circulation. This is one reason they’re so great for regulating blood sugar; they help the liver and pancreas work more efficiently and may improve the overall health of your blood to assist with detoxification.
Mulberries are also low in sugar. They contain about half the sugar of most other dried fruits. These berries also boast 130 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, and contain 10 percent of your daily iron needs in just a quarter of a cup (about an ounce).
Mulberries for heart health
Vitamin C is crucial for a healthy heart, as it regulates nervous system function to reduce mental and physical stress. Vitamin C also acts as a shield for free radicals, which may lead to heart disease, along with a number of chronic conditions, if left unchecked.
Along with vitamin C, mulberries also contain a large dose of potassium and fiber. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure to reduce stress, which improves heart health. Fiber lowers blood sugar and helps excess cholesterol leave the body. Unlike hard-to-digest fibers found in processed foods, the natural fiber found in mulberries is easily tolerated, so these berries won’t lead to digestive issues like gas and bloating in moderate amounts.
What about weight loss?
Though mulberries have been touted as a food that can make you lose weight, it’s important to put the reasons why into context. They have been found to lower blood sugar and insulin levels (much in the same way as oatmeal, beans, and broccoli), but this doesn’t mean that we should rely on mulberries alone for weight loss.
Moderating your intake of all concentrated sources of sugar, including mulberries, is a smart idea. Instead, use them as a topping, and eat small servings. If you’re looking for the blood sugar benefits that mulberries have to offer, without the sugar, you can also try an organic mulberry leaf tea, which is another way to get in on the benefits.
A diet that’s varied in an array of vegetables and fruits is the best way to improve your overall weight — mulberries alone won’t do the trick. They are, however, a lower calorie option than dried fruits with excess sugar added to them, and are much lower in sugar than the ever-popular date — they contain about half the amount.
The flavor of mulberries is what really makes them worth a try, aside from the many benefits they contain. They taste a bit like a honeyed raisin, or somewhat like a mix of a fig and a raisin. They’re just sweet enough without being overpowering, and when dried they are a pretty golden color.
You can add mulberries anywhere you would use raisins, goji berries, or golden berries. They’re about the same size, and can also be used in baking where you might use cranberries, blueberries, or dried cherries. Give them a try on porridge, in homemade energy bars, or add a few to your next raw green smoothie for a naturally sweet flavor!
Adding berries to your diet can have tremendous effects on your overall health. Berries are linked to multiple types of disease prevention, and are easy enough to find at any health-food or grocery store nationwide. You can also buy raw mulberries online, but like other berries, always buy organic to ensure no pesticides were used.
Have you ever used mulberries? If so, what did you think, and what are some of your favorite recipes?
Heather McClees is a professional health journalist and Certified Holistic Nutritionist from South Carolina. She received her B.S. Degree in Nutrition Science and Dietetics, and is most passionate about helping others discover the gift of of holistic health, showing others how to create healthy recipes based on their favorite foods, physical fitness and yoga, and creative writing.