These fruits, right, are very rich in iron, vital for maintaining a healthy count of red blood cells and preventing anaemia – a rare feature among berries. They contain 1.85mg per 100g, 23 per cent of the recommended daily intake, on a par with sirloin beef.
They are also a good source of Vitamin C and have high levels of resveratrol, an antioxidant also found in red wine that is thought to ‘clean up’ pollutants in the body. Studies on rats found that resveratrol was effective against tumours of the skin, breast, lung and prostate.
They contain higher levels of monounsaturated fat than any other nut, good for lowering bad cholesterol that can clog up the arteries. A 2007 study showed that men who ate hazelnuts had a 35 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease than non nut-eaters.
Wilson says: ‘They are a good vegetarian source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which help to reduce arrhythmia – irregular beating of the heart.’
Rosehip syrup is the traditional remedy for the common cold because of the high Vitamin C content of the berries, about 1,000 times higher than oranges or lemons. They are also rich in Vitamins A, D and E, calcium, iron and fatty acids.
‘Studies have shown that rosehip powder was effective in reducing the pain from osteoarthritis,’ says Wilson.
The tiny dark blue fruits have high levels of anthocyanins, plant pigments which have antioxidant properties, some of which are thought to inhibit tumour growth.
‘They also have anti-inflammatory properties,’ says Wilson. ‘They are good for eye health as they help protect the blood vessels and the connective tissue in the eyes, reducing the risk of cataracts.’
The fruit of the blackthorn bush are a type of plum, bitter, but rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. They are a natural antibacterial – so could be useful in a poultice – and high in the antioxidants that have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Sloe syrup has traditionally been used as a tonic to fight colds.
Sloes can also be used to flavour gin. ‘There will be some antioxidant content left, but sloe gin is often made with lots of sugar so has a high calorie content,’ says Wilson.