Hawthorn berries are small, bright-red fruits that belong to the Crataegus species, a group of plants native to Europe, the United States, and northern Africa. Traditionally, they have been used in many cultures as a medicinal herb, offering numerous benefits due to their high concentrations of flavonoids, proteins, antioxidants, and other active compounds. Studies have found that they may help support overall health and treat several long-term conditions.
Hawthorn berries contain some powerful active compounds, such as oligomeric proanthocyanins, or OPCs. These include epicatechin, catechin, procyanidin, and quercetin, among others. All of these compounds are powerful antioxidants, synthesized by plants to protect them from harmful environmental factors and defend against potential threats from their environment. OPCs specifically scavenge the harmful molecules in the body known as free radicals, which are linked to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
One of the main benefits of hawthorn berries is their potential for promoting cardiovascular health. These berries contain several compounds that benefit the heart, including OPCs, flavonoids, and procyanidins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory and anti-arrhythmic effects, which can help reduce risk factors for developing heart disease. Additionally, studies have shown that they may reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as help strengthen blood vessels and improve endothelial function.
Hawthorn berries have also been found to possess potential anti-cancer properties. These fruits are a great source of flavonoids and OPCs, which have been known to have natural antioxidant powers, reducing oxidative stress and cellular damage caused by free radicals. This, in turn, may help reduce the risk of cancer growth and progression.
Finally, these berries may also help improve digestive health. Their high fiber content is helpful in promoting regular bowel movements and reducing symptoms of constipation, while their antioxidant properties can help reduce inflammation in the gut. In addition, hawthorn berry extracts are thought to stimulate the appetite and improve appetite-regulating hormones, which can help promote a healthy digestive system.
Overall, hawthorn berries are a nutrient-dense superfood that offer a wide range of potential health benefits. From promoting cardiovascular health to helping reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, these fruits may aid in protecting against disease and improving overall wellbeing. They’re easy to find in grocery stores and health food stores, as well as online, making them an easy and convenient addition to any diet.