Mulberry trees produce flavorful berries that are enjoyed around the world and often deemed superfoods due to their concentration of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds.
However, the fruit isn’t the only part of the mulberry tree that may offer health benefits. For centuries, its leaves have been used in traditional medicine as a natural treatment for a variety of conditions.
In fact, the leaves are highly nutritious. They’re loaded with powederful plant compounds like polyphenol, antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Mulberries are the fruits of mulberry trees (Morus sp.) and related to figs and breadfruit.
The trees are traditoonally grown for their leaves – mainly in Asia and North America – as they’re thr only food that silkworms eat.
They carry colorful berries – most commonly black, white, or red – that are often made into wine, fruit juice, tea, jam, or canned foods, but can also be dried and eaten as a snack. Due to their sweet flavor, impressive nutritional value, and various health benefits, mulberries are gaining popularity worldwide.
This article reviews mulberries, including their nutrition and benefits.
Fresh mulberries consist of 88% water and only have 60 calories per cup (140 grams).
By fresh weight, they provide 9.8% carbs, 1.7% fiber, 1.4% protein, and 0.4% fat.
Mulberries are often consumed dried, similar to raisins. In this form, they contain 70% carbs, 14% fiber, 12% protein, and 3% fat – making them fairly high in protein compared to most berries.
Here are the main nutrients in 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving mulberries:
●Protein: 1.4 grams
●Carbs: 9.8 grams
●Sugar: 8.1 grams
●Fiber: 1.7 grams
●Fat: 0.4 grams
Fresh mulberries consist of 9.8% carbs, or 14 grams per cup (140 grams).
These carbs are mostly simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, but also contain some starch and fiber.
Mulberries have a decent amount of fiber, corresponding to 1.7% of their fresh weight. The fiber are both soluble (25%) in the form of pectin and insoluble (75%) in the form of lignin.
Fibers help you maintain a healthy digestive system, decrease cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of many diseases.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Mulberries are rich in many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and iron:
●Vitamin C. An essential vitamin that is important for skin health and various bodily functions.
●Iron. An important mineral that has various functions, such as transporting oxygen throughout your body.
●Vitamin K1. Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health.
●Potassium. An essential mineral that may lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
●Vitamin E. An antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage.
OTHER PLANT COMPOUNDS
Mulberries are rich in plant compounds, such as anthocyanins, that contribute to their color and beneficial health effects.
The most abundant ones include:
●Anthocyanins. A family of antioxidants that may inhibit oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and provide beneficial effects against heart disease.
●Cyanidin. The main anthocyanin in mulberries is responsible for their black, red, or purple color.
●Chlorogenic acid. An antioxidant abundant in many fruit and vegetables.
●Rutin. A powerful antioxidant that may help protect against chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
●Myricetin. A compounds in mulberries depends on the variety. This results in different colors and antioxidant properties.
The amounts of plant compounds in mulberries depends on the variety. This results in different colors and antioxidant properties.
Deep-colored and mature mulberries are richer in plant compounds and have a higher antioxidant capacity than colorless and immature berries.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MULBERRIES
Mulberries or mulberry extracts may be beneficial against several chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
■ LOWER CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol is an important fatty molecule present in every cell of your body. However, elevated blood cholesterol levels are linked to increased heart disease risk.
Animal studies show that mulberries and mulberry extracts can reduce excess fat and lower cholesterol levels. They may also improve the ratio between LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.
Additionally, some test-tube experiments suggest that they reduce the formation of fat in the liver – potentially helping prevent fatty liver disease.
■ IMPROVE BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
People with type 2 diabetes are at risk of a rapid rise in blood sugar and need to be careful when they eat carbs.
Mulberries contain the compound 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), which inhibits an enzyme in your gut that breaks down carbs.
Therefore, mulberries may be beneficial against diabetes by slowing down the increase in blood sugar after meals. Studies in people are needed before any firm conclusions can be reached.
REDUCE CANCER RISK
Increased stress in your body has been shown to induce oxidative damage in cells and tissues, which is associated with increased cancer risk.
For hundreds of years, mulberries have been part of traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy against CANCER.
Animal studies indicate that antioxidants in mulberry juice can decrease oxidative stress – potentially reducing cancer risk.
ADVERSE EFFECTS AND INDIVIDUAL CONCERNS
Allergy to mulberries is rare, but pollen from mulberry trees has been reported to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. If you’re sensitive to birch pollen, you may also react to mulberries as a result of cross-reactivity.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Mulberries are colorful berries that are eaten both fresh and dried. They’re a good source of iron, vitamin C, and several plant compounds and have been linked to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and cancer risk.
These berries have also been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years to treat various illnesses, though evidence to support their effectiveness is weak.
Mulberries have a sweet and delicious taste, are packed with nutrients, and have a range of potential health benefits – which are all important for building a healthy diet.