Scientific studies have shown that the consumption of berries have potential health effects against cancer, ageing, neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
Mulberries are rich in anthocyanins which are very good antioxidants. They significantly contribute to scavenging of free radicals produced through metabolic processes.
Mulberry leaves can be used to treat extremely dry skin by steeping them in coconut or olive oil for a few days and applying the oil onto your skin. It can be used with lotion to treat skin that is dry and prone to irritation.
The refreshingly succulent and tart Mulberries, often referred to as ‘Shahtoot’ in Hindi, ‘Kambali Pandu’ in Telugu, ‘Shetur’ in Gujarati, and ‘Shatut’ in Punjabi are delicious and nutritious berries that are enjoyed by people all over the world. Mulberries are produced by the Morus Alba Tree. It is a naturally sweet fruit that looks quite similar to a blackberry and tastes like a grapefruit. Mulberries are cultivated in the warmer regions of Asia, Africa and America. There are several varieties of Mulberries, which include red, black and blue varieties of the fruit. The Mulberry fruit is usually eaten in a dried form. It is a versatile fruit and can be easily integrated in various recipes.
Health benefits of mulberries:
1. The delicious and succulent mulberries are very low in calories (just 43 calories per 100g). They contain many health promoting phyto-nutrient compounds like polyphenol pigment antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
2. Mulberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health effects against cancer, ageing, neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections.
3. The berries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol protects against the risk of stroke by altering molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels; reducing their susceptibility to damage through reduced activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) but potentiating production of the vasodilator hormone (nitric oxide).
4. These berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (36.4 mg per 100, about 61% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
5. The berries also contain small amounts of vitamin A and vitamin E. In addition to the above-mentioned antioxidants, consumption of mulberries provides another group of health promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, ß-carotene and a-carotene in small but notably significant amounts. Altogether, these compounds help by acting as a protective shield against the harmful effects of oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
6. Zea-xanthin is an important dietary carotenoid which selectively concentrates into the retinal macula lutea, where it is thought to provide antioxidant functions and protect the retina from the harmful ultraviolet rays through light-filtering actions.
7. Mulberries are an excellent source of iron, which is a rare feature among berries. Mulberries contain 1.85 mg/100 g of fruits (about 23% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
8. They are also a good source of minerals like potassium, manganese and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cells and body fluids that helps in regulating the heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
9. Mulberries are rich in B-complex vitamins and vitamin K. They contain very substantial amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. These vitamins also function as co-factors and help the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
The leaves of the mulberry tree contain nutrients that are used as a food source for silkworms and grow in bunches called “drupes”. The leaves also contain different medicinal properties, and are used in hair loss remedies, as an anti-inflammatory and as an anti-biotic.
Mulberry fruit Health benefits:
The Mulberry is considered an important remedy in Chinese medicines. The health benefits of mulberry can be derived from its juice which is full of Vitamins, Minerals and anti-oxidants.
1. Good Antioxidant: Mulberries are rich in anthocyanins which are very good antioxidants. They significantly contribute to scavenging free radicals produced through metabolic processes.
2. Prevents Cancers: Mulberries are a good source of resveratrol, a potent phytonutrient that researchers believe prevents cancer. It contains a high level of anti-oxidants which stunts the growth of prostrate cells and tumour growth.
3. Reduces Risk of Blood Clots and Strokes: Mulberries are known to improve blood circulation and are beneficial as an anti-inflammatory that helps to lower the blood pressure and makes you less susceptible to blood clots and strokes. Mulberry juice may help to alleviate some of the symptoms if you suffer from anaemia. In addition, they also help to prevent heart disease.
4. Cleanses Blood: In Chinese medicine, mulberries are considered as a blood tonic. They cleanse the blood, improving the circulation and help in strengthening the entire system. Mulberries enrich the blood in the process, all the while soothing and calming the nerves. They also help in promoting the metabolism of alcohol.
5. Cleanses the Liver and Strengthens Kidneys: Mulberries are noted to strengthen Kidneys and cleanse the liver.
6. Prevents Flu and Colds: Mulberries are high in Vitamin C and flavonoids which make them a natural immune booster that prevents flu, cough, cold and other ailments. Mulberries also help with gastritis and chronic hepatitis.
7. Speeds Up Recovery: Mulberry juice is extremely beneficial for post-operative patients. It accelerates healing, improves blood circulation and prevents the onset of infection. It is often used to speed up recovery after birth and is used as an inflammatory solution after surgery.
8. Controls Blood Sugar: Mulberries contain compounds that support balanced sugar and regulation of blood sugar in diabetic patients. Flavonoids present in mulberries prevent the rise and fall of the blood sugar level in patients. So it is highly effective to prevent complications in diabetic patients caused by sugar level spikes.
9. Maintains Heart Health: Eating mulberries proves beneficial to the heart’s health. It strengthens the nervous system and reduces bad cholesterol thus preventing blockages in the flow of blood. So it is highly effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
10. Controls Cholesterol: Eating mulberries on a regular basis will keep the cholesterol level within limits.
11. Enhances Appetite: Regular consumption of mulberries improves the digestive system, enhancing the appetite.
12. Enhances Immunity: Mulberries can balance internal secretions and enhance the immunity. It promotes proper body fluid production. It also helps people who suffer from dehydration. People suffering from body fluid deficiency should use mulberries daily. 13. Improves Vision: Drinking a glass of mulberry juice also improves vision. It has a high content of Vitamin A which strengthens the eye sight and relieves eye strain, which is ideal for people who spend hours behind the computer. It also protects the eyes from free radicals which is the cause of eye sight loss and retina degeneration.
Mulberry: Skin Benefits
14. Anti-Ageing Properties: Mulberries, like other berries, are rich in anti-oxidants which are renowned as effective anti-ageing agents.
15. Clears Skin: It has properties that help in clearing out dark spots and other blemishes on the facial skin.
16. Rejuvenates Skin: The process of melanin synthesis is regulated effectively, allowing you to get the clear and bright skin that you always wanted. Experts recommend eating the fruit or drinking mulberry tea and juice to rejuvenate your skin.
17. Treats Skin Problems: The leaves of its tree can be left in a hot pot of water for 30 minutes or so to treat skin problems as well as colds, sore throat, fever, etc.
18. Treats Dry and Sensitive Skin: Mulberry leaves can be used to treat extremely dry skin by steeping them in coconut or olive oil for a few days and applying the oil onto your skin. It can be used with lotion to treat skin that is dry and prone to irritation.
19. Makes Skin Soft and Radiant: You can also find bath salts and soaps made of mulberries to make your skin soft and radiant. The leaves can be used in saunas and hot baths to help open up your pores as well as detoxify your body. The steam that contains infused mulberry leaves allows your body to sweat and regulates your body’s metabolism as well.
Mulberry: Hair Benefits
20. Rejuvenates Hair Follicles: Mulberries have properties that can help make your hair healthier. It is well-known that this berry promotes hair growth, thus preventing hair loss. It is especially good for cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy as the hair follicles are rejuvenated by extracts from the mulberry fruit.
21. Promotes Hair Growth: If you suffer from hair loss, mulberry extracts are a safe and natural alternative to getting chemical or surgical treatments. You can apply the juice onto your hair to promote its growth.
22. Retains Hair’s Natural Colour: The production of melanin in your hair is enhanced by mulberries. This allows you to retain your hair’s natural colour. This is very useful, especially for people who suffer from premature greying of the hair. Drinking mulberry juice on a regular basis can benefit you if you wish to have healthy hair, whether it is greying or not.
How to select and store mulberries:
Mature white and red mulberries can be found during the later part of spring or during the early stage of the summer season. Black mulberries mature only at the end of summer. Once the berries are ripe, it is best to harvest them as it is well-known that birds will get to them quickly. If you are buying them from a store, you should make sure that they are plump and have a rich colour. Unless you are getting white mulberries, make it a point to avoid mulberries that are pale in colour as this shows that they have not ripened yet.
If you have a mulberry tree, it is not a hard task to harvest the fruits. All you need is a tarp to cover the ground under its branches and shake them to make the berries fall. If it is time for the fruits to mature, you will need to repeat the process every alternate day.
Once you have collected the berries, put them into baskets. Remember not to make the baskets too full as the ones at the bottom will get crushed, ruining them. The next step is to store them in containers that are airtight. You can wash the berries before storing them or wash them before you use them. These fruits can be stored in your refrigerator for about 3 days. If freezing them after harvest is better for you, you can wash and dry them gently by patting them with a soft cloth or tissue and store them in a sealed bag. You can leave mulberries in your freezer for about 3 months.
Tips for usage:
As mentioned earlier, mulberries and their leaves can be used to make teas and other beverages. Apart from this, they make great fillings for pies as well as a wide range of delicious desserts. Of all the berries that exist, mulberries have the highest content of anti-oxidants, making them healthy no matter how you prepare them. Mulberry smoothies taste delicious. You can add them to your daily diet to make sure that your cholesterol levels stay stable. It will also ensure that your body gets all the vital nutrients that it requires to stay healthy and strong.
Eating mulberries can help prevent many diseases that affect the liver, kidneys as well as lungs. Experts recommend drinking a glass of fresh mulberry juice on a daily basis to detoxify your body. There are many different ways that you can use this berry in your diet. The fruit and leaves have beneficial properties that you can use to promote overall health.
If you are looking for a natural way to cleanse your body, get glowing skin and strong healthy hair, mulberries are the best choice. Every part of your body benefits from this amazing berry.
1. Asstt. Director, Incharge
2. Research Officer,
Central Ayurveda Research Institute for Respiratory Disorders, Patiala