When doing research on goji berries, the last superfood I profiled, I came across another amazing fruit that I thought I’d share. I admit I haven’t encountered rose hips before, but from the stuff I’m reading about them, I’ll be chasing them down to give them a try. Several personal accounts I’ve come across say that they’re delicious on top of being oh so good for you.
Roses are known more for their flower than their fruit. Few people know that rose plants even bear fruit, but rose hips are actually just that – the fruit from the rose plant. They begin to form in spring and ripen from late summer through to the fall. They almost look like small plum tomatoes with colours ranging from dark red to almost purple to bright orange.
Rose hips are highly valued in the natural foods community as a potent source of vitamin C. They contain a whopping 2000mg of vitamin C per every 100g or fruit. That’s over forty times more vitamin C than an orange!
Rose hips are also high in vitamin E, particularly if you eat the seeds. This being said, the seeds can be a bit hairy and irritate the throat. Apparently the seeds in the fully ripened fruit, one that has become soft and even a little wrinkly, are much more palatable.
The fruit also contains: Vitamin K, which is important for bone health and may have cancer preventative properties; pectin, a special kind of fiber that supports healthy cholesterol levels, blood pressure and digestive health; beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A; and bio-flavinoids, phytonutrients with antioxidant properties. Ultimately, rose hips have a huge antioxidant effect due to all the vitamin C and flavanoids.
The phytonutrient profile includes, among other things, the carotenoids lycopene (better known as the tomato carotenoid), lutein and zeaxanthin, important for healthy eyes and preventing macular degeneration. All of which means rose hips have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Rose hip powder used as a dietary supplement is touted as a remedy for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis mainly for this fact. Specifically, an anti-inflammatory fat found in the specific rose species “Rosa canina”, also known as “Dog rose”, helps relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis.
People have even found that feeding rose hips to certain animal species can have beneficial effects. Apparently chinchillas, like humans and guinea pigs, are one of the few species that do not create their own vitamin C. Chinchilla owners have apparently found that feeding their pets fresh or dried rose hips to be quite beneficial. Similarly, adding a little rose hips to a horse’s feed reportedly makes their coat healthier and benefits the growth of new hooves.
Finding fresh rose hips in stores may be tricky. I can’t remember ever seeing them myself. I’ve read reports of people finding them in the wild so I suppose if you knew where to look you might luck out. You could always grow your own.
Otherwise you may have to rely on rose hip supplements. You can find the powdered dried fruit in health food stores in capsules. Of course, the fresh fruit would be ideal, but barring that, I’m going to keep my eyes open to see if I can’t find the powder so that I could add it to my morning smoothies.
Author by Doug DiPasquale
As an herbalist I would seriously discourage people from eating the hairy laden seeds of Rose Hips (Rosa Canina or any variety for that matter) picked fresh. The hairs are extremely irritating and there are so many that the only practical way to get rid of them is to buy professionally processed rose hips or else chop and dry them and then winnow the results (toss up and let the wind blow away the hairs – impractical, but works). I used to purchase dried flaked rose-hips and seeds in a mix from a herbal supplier that had no seeds in it and used it very successfully for horses with many different health issues – the side effects of stronger hoof growth and shiny coats a bonus. If you can find dried flaked rose hips and seeds in a health food store that sells bulk, these make excellent tea, can also be used to make a cold drink similar to lemonade and can also be encapsulated to provide you with all the goodies inherent in the rose hips.
Fresh rose hips make an excellent jelly as well for the adventurous who have no problem picking lots of rose hips. One of my favorite producers of rose hips is very fragrant bush type rose, often used in mass plantings on boulevards, etc, that produce dark pink multipetalled flowers that also smell absolutely heavenly, the fragrance rich and dark as the petals. The hips on this rose (sorry I don’t know the name of it) are very plump, a rich tomato orange and stand out even from a distance. Any rose hips will do but do make sure that the flowers aren’t sprayed with pesticides, as roses can be fussy and many insects like to munch on them, its not uncommon for growers to spray them; as they are also susceptible to viruses there’s the possibility of rose hips being doused with treatments that as well. Enjoy this under used fruit, its excellent.