Native to China, Morus alba or the white mulberry is a fast growing and short lived species of mulberry widely grown to feed the silkworms that are used in the commercial production of silk. This small to medium sized berry is also cultivated in many other parts of the world such as India, Iran, Afghanistan and Southern Europe. Traditional Chinese medicine makes use of the medicinal properties of this berry for the treatment of many ailments. White mulberry is also widely grown as an ornamental shade tree. The leaves and young bark of Morus alba are considered to be excellent for feeding animals. White mulberry may be eaten raw or made into jams, jellies pies. It can be added to cookies, bread, or puddings. It is also used as a substitute for raisin and as an ingredient in making mulberry wine.
Nutritional value of white mulberry
White mulberry is a great source of protein, since a serving of 1/3 of a cup of this fruit provides 4 grams of protein. Such a small serving also provides you with 20 percent of your daily fiber needs. The high amount of fiber in these berries is extremely beneficial for lowering blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol and also in regulating digestion. Eating this berry can provide your body with health benefitting polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as anthocyanins, resveratrol, zea-xanthin, lutein, ß-carotene and α-carotene. White mulberry is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and B complex vitamins such as vitamin B-6, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. It is also rich in many minerals including iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Health benefits of white mulberry
The white mulberry has long been an important ingredient in ancient Chinese medicine. Almost all parts of the plant are considered to possess medicinal properties. The high levels of health promoting antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in this berry make it an ideal food for optimum health.
White mulberry is rich in antioxidants
White mulberry shows powerful antioxidant properties because of the presence of phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and resveratrol in it. These antioxidants help in neutralizing the damaging effects of the free radicals. Studies indicate that the potent antioxidants in white mulberries may be helpful in protecting against many serious diseases like cancer and cardiovascular problems. Another important benefit of consuming foods rich in antioxidants is that they help in inhibiting the process of aging. As a result you look young and your skin is protected from the signs of aging such as dark lines and wrinkles.
White mulberry may help in preventing diabetes
Scientists believe that white mulberry may be beneficial for preventing diabetes. Studies reveal that the leaves of this berry contain a compound known as 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ) that may help in slowing down the digestion of sugar and as a result, most of the sugar is excreted instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream. This compound has been found to be helpful in preventing spikes in blood glucose levels. Drinking mulberry leaf tea regularly is a great way to control blood sugar levels and to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
White mulberry boosts your immunity
White mulberry has been used traditionally as a tonic to improve immune responses. Macrophages are a type of white blood cells in our body that play a vital role in immune response by ingesting disease causing microbes and foreign particles. According to studies, white mulberry contains macrophage activating constituents called alkaloids. This berry is also rich in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps in boosting your immunity, thereby protecting your body against common ailments like cold, flu or infections.
White mulberry for treating anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia that occurs when your body does not get enough iron from the food you eat. Consuming more iron rich foods is the best way to treat this condition. White mulberry is rich in iron content, which makes it an appropriate fruit for people suffering from anemia. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends drinking mulberry juice to improve blood circulation and also to relieve symptoms associated with anemia such as fatigue, tiredness, weakness, and dizziness.
White mulberry improves eye health
White mulberry is a good source of vitamin A, which is associated with improving and maintaining the health of your eyes. Drinking mulberry juice regularly is believed to be helpful in promoting good vision and healthy eyes. Moreover, the high levels of antioxidants in this fruit protect your eyes from free radical damage and prevent the occurrence of eye disorders like cataract and age related macular degeneration.
Anti-microbial activity of white mulberry
Studies reveal that the extracts of white mulberry are rich in phytochemicals that show antimicrobial effects against pathogens that are harmful to your body. These phytochemicals were found to be effective against various strains of bacteria such as Streptococcus sanguis, Porpyromonas gingivalis, Streptococcus sobrinus, Streptococcus faecalis, Streptococcus aureus, Mycobacterium smegmatis, and also against certain species of molds.
Hair benefits of white mulberry
White mulberries have can help to make your hair healthier and stronger. Not only does it help in promoting hair growth, it also prevents hair loss. The juice of this berry can be applied onto the scalp for stimulating hair growth. White mulberry is also found to be effective in preventing premature graying of hair.
White mulberry has neuroprotective effects
Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s diseases and Parkinson’s diseases are mainly caused by the depletion of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Studies reveal that white mulberry extracts may help in modulating monoamine oxidase activities. Since monoamine oxidase regulators are beneficial in the treatment of conditions like Parkinson’s disease, dementia and depression, the consumption of white mulberry is considered to be helpful for people suffering from these diseases. Studies of the effect of ethanolic extract of this fruit on Parkinsons’s disease models were evaluated. The result showed that the antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties of white mulberry helped in protecting the neurons from neurotoxins. Another most common neurodegenerative disorder is the Alzheimer’s disease. It has been found that the use of mulberry leaves may lower the risk of developing this disease and the leaf extract of white mulberry may be effective in the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as it helps in inhibiting the formation of amyloid beta-peptide (1-42) fibril.
White mulberry has anti-stress effects
Tests conducted to study the anti-stress Morus alba showed that the plant also has huge potential as an anti-stress agent of great therapeutic significance. The results of these studies suggest that white mulberry can be beneficial in the treatment of oxidative stress-induced disorders.
White mulberry exhibits hepato-protective activity
Studies show that white mulberry contains flavonoids, stilbene and coumarine, which possess hepato-protective (Liver protecting) activity. In one study Morus alba extract was used to treat hepatotoxicity in mice. The result showed that the extract was able to combat many of the chronic liver disorders. It also indicated that the extract helped in significantly reducing tissue damage and liver necrosis in mice.
White mulberry promotes heart health
Build up of cholesterol in the blood can lead to heart diseases. White mulberry is often used in Chinese medicine to lower the LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the blood stream. In addition this fruit is also rich in potassium, which functions as a vasodilator and helps in controlling blood pressure.
Anti-hyperlipidemic activity of white mulberry
The leaves of white mulberry have the potential to be used as anti-hyperlipidemic agent because this plant shows inhibitory effect on the production of fatty acids. When white mulberry leaves aqueous extract was given to hyperlipidemic mice, it caused considerable reduction in the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
White mulberry and skin whitening
White mulberry extracts contain Betulinic acid that reduces the production of melanin and hence promotes whitening of the skin. For this reason, morus alba is used as an ingredient in many natural cosmetic products that are meant to whiten the skin or to improve skin tone.
Other uses of Morus alba
The bark of one-year old stems of white mulberry plant yields a fiber that is used in weaving clothes. It is used in many parts of Europe and China for making paper. A brown colored dye is extracted from the trunk of the mulberry tree that can be used for dyeing fabric. The twigs of white mulberry serve as a binding material in the manufacture of baskets. The wood is moderately heavy, close-grained, hard, durable and flexible. Therefore it is used in making sporting goods such as hockey sticks, tennis rackets, badminton rackets, furniture, house and boat building materials and agricultural implements.
The leaves of White mulberry are eaten as a vegetable and are also used to feed cattle. The fruit is a good food source for hogs, poultry and wild birds. Morus alba is widely planted to protect livestock, improve production, and also to control soil erosion. It is used in tree strips for windbreaks, which help people to better withstand the effects of winter storms and to reduce the costs of home heating during the harsh winter months.
Nowadays more and more people are turning to herbal remedies to treat and prevent diseases. The popularity of white mulberry is reaching far and wide owing to its therapeutic and health-promoting properties. Eating mulberries can help in preventing many diseases and drinking a glass of fresh mulberry juice regularly is known to detoxify your body. Almost all parts of the plant possess beneficial properties that can be used to improve your overall health.