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News - Rosehips - Nature's bounty

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT

Rosehips are the red-orange or purple-black fruits of the rose plant and, contrary to popular belief, they are not poisonous. In fact, they have a number of health benefits. They have been used around the world for many years and are a common ingredient in herbal tea. They can also be used to make jam, jelly, marmalade and wine, and are even made into a special soup in Sweden. 

Rosehips are one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin C. One cup, of 30 berries, contains as much vitamin C as 40 oranges! In World War II, people often gathered rosehips to make a vitamin C syrup for children with colds, because boats importing citrus fruits from the tropics were unable to reach our ports. While traditionally a winter tonic in the UK, rosehips actually have year-round applications. They possess naturally cooling and thirst-quenching properties, as well as nourishing the skin and supporting the digestive system. 

In addition to vitamin C, rosehips also contain beta carotene (the plant form of vitamin A), vitamins D and E, iron, calcium, antioxidants, fatty acids, pectin – a soluble form of fibre, which aids digestive and heart health – and bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids help to support the action of vitamin C in the body. Some researchers also believe that they can help to maintain the strength of tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, that deliver oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Many bioflavonoids also help to prevent the cellular damage caused by free radicals, as well as enhancing the antioxidant action of certain other nutrients. This is especially beneficial in rosehips, where vitamin C and bioflavonoids are found with a whole spectrum of other antioxidant compounds, such as zeaxanthin, lutein, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. 

In 2005, rosehips hit the national headlines when a Scandinavian scientific study, using a rosehip powder for osteoarthritis, published impressive results1. Those taking the rosehip powder showed improved joint comfort and reduced consumption of ‘rescue medication’. 

Rosehips have also been used traditionally to manage excess uric acid in the body. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of compounds in certain foods called purines. A high intake of purines in the diet, or a problem with excreting uric acid, can cause it to build up in the body. This can lead to the condition called gout. Rosehips have a natural diuretic action on the body, helping the kidneys to clear excess waste products and uric acid via the urine. 

So, far from being a poison to avoid, it seems rosehips are a forgotten superfood! 

Article References

Winther K, Apel K, Thamsborg G. A powder made from seeds and shells of a rose-hip subspecies (Rosa canina) reduces symptoms of knee and hip osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Scand J Rheumatol 2005;34:302308

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