Sea Buckthorn: Can These Eye-Catching, Bright Berries Be the Next Super Food?
What if we told you about a magic ingredient that can boost your immunity and also give you beautiful, glowing skin? The health benefits of this small, radiant, orange berry are many but unfortunately, unknown to most of us. Sea buckthorn, scientifically called Hippophae rhamnoides, is native to the dry, sandy regions of Europe and Asia. These berries are packed with an exhaustive range of nutrients essential to human health. What’s unique about them is the presence of essential oils, not only in their seeds, but also in the edible soft pulp.The Berries
While the precise nutritional composition of the berries is still under research, they are touted to be a rich source of Vitamin C, E, flavonoids and carotenoids. Sea buckthorn berries are packed with antioxidants, and are also rich in saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Carotenoids lend them their bright hue as well as enriches them with anti-inflammatory properties.
The fruit of the plant, when eaten raw, tastes sour. This is primarily due to the presence of high oil content. However, the juice is packed with Vitamin C. The Chinese are known to have employed sea buckthorn berries in treating conditions such as gastric ulcers, skin diseases, to improve blood circulation and for cardiac ailments.
The fruit and its concentrate can be used to prepare syrups, jams, sauces, etc. It can also be used as a flavouring agent in pies and tarts, or to add acidity to fruit salads or desserts. What remains of the fruit post pulp extraction and juicing is used as a natural food colorant.
The oil present in the pulp is high in palmitoleic acid. Oils with high palmitoleic acid content have been shown to be beneficial for total serum cholesterol levels. It is also believed to enhance skin cell renewal and repair. Palmitoleic acid can have a favourable effect on dermatitis and collagen synthesis. Topical application of the oil is associated with quick wound healing and speedy pain relief.
Sea buckthorn seed oil has vitamin E and carotenoids in abundance. The oil absorbs UV-B light and therefore can be used as a natural sunscreen. When included in the regular diet, it also protects the liver from the damaging effects of toxic chemicals and can be beneficial in treating gastric ulcers. Sea buckthorn seed oil contains essential fatty acids linoleic (omega – 6) and α-linolenic (omega – 3).
While raw sea buckthorn berries may not be easily found in Indian markets, the concentrate, its juice and oil are readily available. Add a little to your breakfast smoothie, or go for a shot of this juice to rejuvenate yourself during the day. The oil can be drizzled on salads, or applied as a moisturiser to give you that enviable glow.