The first day of spring is approaching quickly, but here in the north we are still blanketed in a couple feet of snow.
Days of walking barefoot in summer dresses are a distant memory. Instead, all walks through the forest that surrounds us require snowshoes and lots of layers of clothes.
This is always the hardest time of year for me. I am dreaming of fresh greens like dandelion, chickweed, and nettle, but I’ve still got months to go!
If I look closely, however, I can still find a fresh, slightly tart, slightly sweet herb scattered throughout the landscape.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose (Rosa spp.). They ripen and turn red in the late summer to fall. In my neck of the woods, they stay frozen on the bushes through the winter. When harvesting a rose hip, I look for a bright red hip without any dark blemishes. I also look closely to avoid any with little dots on the fruit that would indicate a worm hole.
Back at home these fresh hips can be de-seeded (with patience, I recommend storing them in the freezer for a couple of hours before beginning the process) and infused in honey or added to food. Or they can be dried whole to make into teas or syrups.
Many rose hips taste delicious, while some admittedly have a so-so flavor. In either case, they are high in beneficial micronutrients and phytonutrients such as vitamin C and flavonoids. Herbalists and wild foods enthusiasts have been enjoying rose hips probably since the beginning of roses! In recent years, science has been exploring their benefits in relationship to heart health and addressing chronic inflammation.
Rose Hips for Heart Health
In one study, people were given 40 grams of rose hip powder daily for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks there was a significant improvement in blood pressure and plasma cholesterol in the people taking the rose hip powder as compared with the control group.1
Rose Hips for Addressing Pain and Inflammation
Numerous studies have shown that eating rose hips daily has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation for patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.23 One study even showed that rose hips can reduce inflammatory markers like serum C-reactive protein (CRP) in patients with osteoarthritis.4 The researchers concluded, “The results indicate that rose-hip possesses anti-inflammatory properties and might be used as a replacement or supplement for conventional drug therapies in patients with osteoarthritis.”5
How to Use Rose Hips
To get the most vitamin C from rose hips, it is best to eat them fresh and raw. But dried or cooked rose hips still offer many benefits.
If you don’t have wild rose hips growing near you, domesticated rose hips can be used as well. Be sure not to harvest from rose bushes that have been sprayed with pesticides. Once you know a rose hip is safe for eating, give it a taste (avoid eating the seeds with their irritating hairs). Is it tart, sour, or sweet? Great! If it is bland tasting, it’s probably not the best medicine.
The following recipe is a wonderful way to use rose hips in your meals and a great way to have a quick breakfast waiting for you in the morning. To make this recipe, I used dried rose hips that had been de-seeded. If you aren’t up for harvesting your own rose hips, they can be easily found at your favorite local or online herbal apothecary.
Rose Hip and Apple Muesli
Muesli is an oat-based breakfast that often includes nuts and dried fruits. Soaking the mixture overnight makes the oats and nuts more easily digestible and allows the dried rose hips to rehydrate. With a little prep the night before, you can have a quick and delicious breakfast in the morning.
What you’ll need…
- 1 1/4 cups oats
- 1/3 cup dried rose hips with seeds removed (also search for rosehips – one word – when looking to purchase)
- 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons honey, or to taste
- 1 cup diced apple (about 1 medium apple)
Mix the oats, rose hips, almonds, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl with a lid. Stir in the milk, yogurt, juice, vanilla extract, and honey. Leave in the fridge overnight to soak.
In the morning, add the apple. Serve with additional milk if desired. This muesli is fine to eat as is, but if you prefer warm breakfasts, feel free to heat it up.
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe from Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal by Rosalee de la Forêt (Hay House, 2017)
Now we’d love to hear from you!
What are you favorite ways to enjoy rose hips?
Were you surprised to see all the clinical research showing the many benefits of rose hips for supporting heart health and addressing pain and inflammation?
Let us know in the comments below.
- Andersson, U, K Berger, A Högberg, M Landin-Olsson, and C Holm. “Effects of Rose Hip Intake on Risk Markers of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: A Randomized, Double-blind, Cross-over Investigation in Obese Persons.” European journal of clinical nutrition 66, no. 5 (2012): doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.203. ↩
- Winther, K, K Apel, and G Thamsborg. “A Powder Made from Seeds and Shells of a Rose-hip Subspecies (Rosa Canina) Reduces Symptoms of Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial.” Scandinavian journal of rheumatology 34, no. 4 (2005): doi:10.1080/03009740510018624. ↩
- Willich, S N, K Rossnagel, S Roll, A Wagner, O Mune, J Erlendson, A Kharazmi, H Sörensen, and K Winther. “Rose Hip Herbal Remedy in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis – a Randomised Controlled Trial.” Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology 17, no. 2 (2010): doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2009.09.003. ↩
- Winther, K, E Rein, and A Kharazmi. “The Anti-inflammatory Properties of Rose-hip.” Inflammopharmacology 7, no. 1 (1999): doi:10.1007/s10787-999-0026-8.[4. Winther, K, E Rein, and A Kharazmi. “The Anti-inflammatory Properties of Rose-hip.” Inflammopharmacology 7, no. 1 (1999): doi:10.1007/s10787-999-0026-8. ↩
- Ibid ↩