Various species of junipers produce female seed cones; these are referred to as juniper berries. Lacking the description of a true berry, the juniper berries have a fleshy appearance, and some of them have a distinctive bitter taste. It is mostly used as an ingredient in American and European cuisines because of its sharp and unique flavour.
There are various reasons why juniper berries are so widely preferred in different types of cuisine. This is because there are many health benefits that make up for its sharp flavour. Some of the distinct advantages of juniper berries can be listed as below:
1) Natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
As an antioxidant rich food, juniper berries can protect from illnesses caused by cell damage. Reducing inflammation in the body by releasing essential oils, it also serves as an anti-inflammatory substance. The juniper berries guard the cells from damage that is caused by free radicals. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are further enhanced by being rich in flavonoids such as apigenin, luteolin, and rutin.
2) Offers antidiabetic properties
Traditionally, these berries were used for the treatment of diabetes in many parts of the world when medical science wasn’t as advanced as it is now. Using extracts of juniper berries can aid in reducing blood sugar levels and aids in an effective loss of cholesterol. The anti-diabetes effects of the berries haven’t been rigorously proven, but people usually prefer the berries for this benefit.
3) Healthy for the heart
Improving the levels of good cholesterol in the body and reducing the concentration of bad cholesterol and triglyceride, the juniper berries help maintain a healthy heart. Regular consumption of these berries considerably reduces the risks of having heart disease in the future. These berries promote the flow of blood in the heart, thus effectively helping in maintaining a regular cycle.
4) Protects against bacterial and fungal infections
Rich in antibacterial and antifungal properties, these berries can be used in medicinal treatments of bacterial and fungal infections. Essential oils such as myrcene, limonene, sabinene and alpha- and beta-pinene protect against skin conditions such as ringworms caused due to the fungus called dermatophyte. The bacteria that is generally the cause of food poisoning, called campylobacter jejuni, also fails against the anti-bacterial properties of juniper berries.
5) High nutrient content
Juniper berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is essential for immunity and growth. Anti-cancer properties have been found in the monoterpenes that are found in juniper berries. Other essential oils like camphor and coumarins are also found in these berries and these protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Juniper berries have also been found to stimulate better and unrestricted blood flow and promote the synthesis of collagen.
Given all the above benefits of Juniper berries, we conclude that they must be added to a regular diet to make use of its maximum health benefits. Apart from being just a medical substance, these berries found on conifers have a pinch of tartness in their flavour.