Sambucus nigra Berries and Flowers Health Benefits: From Lab Testing to Human Consumption


European elder plant, Sambucus nigra L., has been used as an important part of the folk medicine and as multipurpose foods and dietary supplements. The scientific developments in nutrition research, in evaluation of biological activities, and in prospection of bioactive compounds reveal a set of potential health benefits associated with S. nigra berries and flowers. This chapter aims to briefly cover aspects linked to elder plant taxonomic classification, geographic distribution, and typologies of products available in the market. Current challenges regarding in vitro and in vivo assays will be also discussed. Despite in vitro studies are often used to predict the health benefits due to the high amount of generated data and their low cost, the use of in vivo assays is crucial to predict such health benefits, as the real contribution of foods, extracts, or specific bioactive compounds to human health is largely modulated by their bioavailability that cannot be accessed at in vitro level. Thus, the main findings regarding the potential health benefits of S. nigra-based preparations using in vitro and/or in vivo assays, namely, anti-infective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anticancer, and antidiabetic, will be critically revisited. Finally, current challenges related to nutrivigilance systems, which are crucial to ensure consumer health and safety, will be presented.


Salvador Â.C., Guilherme R.J.R., Silvestre A.J.D., Rocha S.M.

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