The mulberry is one of 10-16 species of deciduous flowering tree growing in many temperate regions. Its most common association is with the silk worm, which lives exclusively on mulberry leaves, but in more recent times mulberries have joined the ranks of popular human superfoods. Coming in at just 43 calories per 100g, they will provide almost half of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, and 14% of iron, while at the same time offering substantial amounts of fibre, Vitamin K and potassium, as well as B complex vitamins and other minerals.
Mulberry fruits come in a variety of colours from white to purplish black, and have a high concentration of phenolic acids and flavonoids, particularly in the darker varieties. With powerful antioxidant properties, these compounds are particularly good at scavenging free radicals. The most important constituent of mulberry fruits are the anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, as well as the potential to protect the neural system.
Studies examining the antioxidant effect of the carotenoid zeaxanthin in the eye, offer evidence that a combination of the zeaxanthin found in mulberries and its fellow carotenoid, lutein, can help decrease age-related macular degeneration and slow the development of cataracts.