Where and how it grows
What exactly is the hippophae rhamnoides? It is a golden-orange berry, about the size of a pea, common names are sea buckthorn, seaberry and sandthorn. It is grown around the world for example, in Finland, Canada, China and the Middle East. The health benefits of sea buckthorn berries are widely documented in many recent studies around the world and the berries have been used internally and externally for hundreds of years. These incredible berries contain more than 190 different nutrients as well as protein (especially globulins and albumins) and fatty acids.
Medicinal uses now and then
The fruits of sea buckthorn have been used as a drug by traditional Tibetan and Mongolian medicine since ancient times. It has pharmacological effects on the lungs, the stomach, the spleen, the blood circulation, which were recorded in some medicinal classics as far back as the Tang Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty.
In historical records, Chinese people were the first to use sea buckthorn as a drug. More than a thousand years ago, the sea buckthorn was recorded in Sibu Yidian (a classical Tibetan medical book), whose writing was finished in the 8th century.
In modern traditional medicine, the sea buckthorn is used for treating many ailments. For example, the sea buckthorn leaves and flowers are used for treating arthritis, gastrointestinal ulcers, gout and skin rashes caused by infectious diseases. While the sea buckthorn berries are used for preventing infections, improving sight, and slowing the aging process.
What's in them
Sea buckthorn berries are among the most nutritious and vitamin-rich fruits known. They contain a very high level of vitamin C, about 10 times greater than oranges (53mg/100g), as well as containing carotenoids (usually found in orange coloured fruits/vegetables) and vitamin E. The berries also contain a good amount of protein, which will leave you feeling full and help you keep hunger abay for longer.
Getting your daily vitamin C is very important for overall health and supporting the immune system – helping you to ward off possible infections. As vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it needs to be topped up daily and any excess is eliminated from the body automatically. In general, it is much better to acquire your daily vitamins and minerals from food instead of supplements as food delivers the vitamins in a metabolism-friendly form, and thus will not cause tummy upsets and will be more easily absorbed. Adding some berries to your daily breakfast routine is an easy way to get your daily vitamins and minerals without the need to pop any supplements, as they usually contain a lot of unnecessary additives and things that your body does not need and cannot process.
Another important benefit from enjoying sea buckthorn berries is getting your recommended daily intake of vitamin E, which keeps your heart healthy as well as keeping your reproductive system and nerves in good working order. In some cases, vitamin E has also been found to be helpful to women going through the menopause.
Eating a small daily spoonful of sea buckthorn will help you with getting your daily required dose of the healthy fatty acids that keep your body balanced. These little berries contain all of these healthy unsaturated fats that the body requires, oleic acid (omega 9), palmitoleic acid (omega 7), palmitic acid (omega 6) as well as linolenic acid (omega 3).
What you also get from these orange berries is B12, which is an essential vitamin, and especially critical for vegetarians and vegans to obtain from their plant-based food sources, as it mostly is found in animal-by products, for example most meats and dairy. Ingesting enough B12 will ensure your nervous system runs smoothly and help to release energy from the food you eat. Again, as B12 is a water soluble vitamin, there is no risk of over-indulgence as any extra is eliminated from the body.
How to use them
So if you feel like you do not have time to eat enough fruits to get your daily vitamin kick, munching a handful/spoonful of powder of sea buckthorn is an easy way to stay on track. A spoonful of sea buckthorn powder is far easier to digest and for your body to absorb vitamins than, say,10 oranges. Eating too many oranges might cause an upset stomach, as oranges are generally very acidic, unlike the sea buckthorns, which almost solely contain good fatty acids. There little orange coloured sea buckthorn berries also contain more fibre than oranges (28g/100g compared to 2g/100g), which helps the digestion to function smoothly. As well as containing more protein than the oranges, overall it is a very nutritionally balanced source of vitamins, fibre and protein (13g/100g compared to 1g/100g) that is easy to add to your diet every day, which also counts towards your 5 a day (approx. 2 teaspoons = 1 of your 5 a day).
Adding sea buckthorns to your daily plate colour palette is a very good way to ensure a varied, healthy intake of multiple vitamins and minerals as well as adding colour to your life and treating your tastebuds.