What seniors need to know about rose hips

Fall is the time to leave peaches and melons behind, and start enjoying those crisp, juicy apples.

But did you know there’s a tiny ‘cousin’ to the apple that you can harvest at the end of summer? It has more vitamin C than an orange, and that’s just the start of its health benefits…

Once the bloom is off those fragrant roses every summer, before the first frost, savvy gardeners are harvesting these fruits and using them in teas, jellies and sauces throughout the fall and winter.

If you’re not a gardener, don’t worry. You can still enjoy the taste and the health benefits of this fruit.

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What are rose hips?

The ancient Chinese, Persians, Romans and Greeks knew about rose hips. They were used for stomach complaints, menstrual cramps and diarrhea.

During World War II, when citrus fruits were not widely available, rose hips became popular in Great Britain as the basis for rose hip syrup. The syrup was given out to citizens, and especially to children, to prevent scurvy.

Basically, rose hips are the seed pods of roses that remain once the flower itself has bloomed and gone. They look like tiny crab apples, and have a similarly tart taste.

Rose hip tea is probably the most common way that people consume these little fruits. The tea is readily available in stores, or can be made by pouring hot water over crushed rose hips and cinnamon.

Rose hip syrup can be made or purchased and poured over ice cream or yogurt for a sweet-tart flavor that complements sweet desserts.

Among people in the know, rose hips are best known for their outstanding Vitamin C content. While a small orange has about 51 mg of the vitamin, a cup of rose hips boasts more than ten times that much, or 541 mg.

But this is only the beginning of the well-researched benefits of this mini-apple…

Rose hips offer safe arthritis relief

A daily dose of at least 45g of rose hip powder has been shown to lower C-reactive protein, a marker that signifies increased inflammation. What’s more, it does this without the risks of taking NSAIDS, drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen, which come with increased chance of heart attack and stroke.

And three clinical studies involving a total of 287 patients showed that rose hip powder reduced hip pain and improved flexibility in patients with osteoarthritis.

Rose hips protect heart and blood vessels

The rich supply of carotenoids found in rose hips are also found in foods like carrots and tomatoes. Carotenoids reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation that cause heart disease. They also decrease thickness and stiffening of the arteries, a leading cause of stroke.

A Swedish study found that 40g of powdered rose hip a day for six weeks significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number of your blood pressure reading, which gives the best idea of your risk for heart attack or stroke).

As a group, the study participants showed a 17 percent reduction in risk of stroke and heart disease.

How to get the benefits of rose hips

If you grow roses and don’t use pesticides, feel free to harvest your rose hips in late summer and early fall, when they turn a bright orange-red. This intense color signals that the antioxidants and vitamins found within are at their peak.

If you enjoy the taste of sour apples, you’ll enjoy washing and snacking on rose hips. Otherwise, make them into jams, syrups or refreshing rose hip tea.

Or, to get the anti-inflammatory and vitamin-rich benefits of rose hips, you can simply take rose hip powder in capsule form.

As with any natural supplement, if you are taking any medications or otherwise being treated for a medical condition, it’s best to check with your doctor before taking rose hips. In particular, the high Vitamin C content of rose hips can interfere with blood-thinning medication such as Coumadin. Rose hips can also interfere with blood sugar control medication.

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.