What are Rose Hips?
Rose hips (edible and supplemental) are one of those fantastic health foods that you may already grow in your garden! A small fruit found on many rose plants, they begin to take shape after the flowers on the plant pollinate [i]. They ripen in late summer through autumn when the flower dies and they take on a bright color. Colors range from orange and red, to purple or black, depending on the variety.
They’re the round/oval shaped part just below the petals. When they’re ready for harvesting, simply cut them off from the stalk. Then chop off the stringy bits sticking out from the top. Collect them and prepare to use them any way you choose!
How to Eat Them
Take them in many forms, including raw, like a berry. Some varieties contain seeds with the potential to produce hydrogen cyanide. Although highly toxic if released and consumed, many commonly eaten fruits, like apples and peaches, contain seeds with the same properties[ii]. Remove the seeds from the fruit to eliminate any risk of poisoning. Wash and cut open to remove any seeds along with the hairs.
Rose hips are also used in herbal teas, in syrups, jams and jellies, pies, breads and in alcohol. Since awareness has grown regarding the health benefits, it is available commercially in a number of forms. You can purchase it as an oil to be used topically on your skin. Rose hip herbs can be purchased in the form of herbal teas, and supplements are available in capsule and powder form. Sometimes they’re added in with other supplements such as vitamin C. As a supplement, the dosage is usually around 5-10g per day[iii].
The powdered form is often preferred due to the nutritional content being well preserved during processing. Rose hips that have been dried or freeze dried into powder are more likely to retain their antioxidant properties as opposed to supplements that have been produced through heating methods[iv]. This is one of the main rose hip powder benefits.
- To make a rose hip tea, simply add fresh or dried rose hips to a teapot and pour boiling water over them. Cover and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Drink the resulting tea on its own to get a real taste for the rose hips, or add a little bit of healthy natural sweetener such as stevia or honey.
- Remember to remove the hairs and seeds inside, and then substitute for berries in your favorite jam recipe. By the way, make sure you save the seeds so you can germinate them and replant for next season!
- Use them in salads. Remember that you can eat them raw once you’ve removed the seeds and hairs. You can then add them to your favorite salad, or you could make a salad dressing with them. Although rose hips are harvested after the flower has died, it’s useful to note that the petals are also edible so you can add them to your salads (or smoothies, desserts, teas and syrups) too!
Not only tasty and available in a number of forms, rose hips also offer some amazing potential health benefits. Here are a few of them…
A great skincare product
Rose hip facial oil can be purchased in small bottles. Only a few drops needs to be massaged into the skin for it to act as a wonderful, healthy moisturizer. A study investigating the effectiveness of rose hip powder on cell longevity, wrinkles, moisture and elasticity discovered some beneficial effects for skin health.
The effects were compared with those of a well-known anti-wrinkle remedy (astaxanthin) and were found to be very similar – i.e. both produced effective outcomes. It was concluded that the rose hip oil benefits were likely a result of its supportive mechanism alongside collagen, as well as its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties[v].
Rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants
Rose hips are an excellent source of vitamin C[vi], coming in at 426mg per 100g. They’re also a source of a number of other vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, and vitamin A[vii]. Their high vitamin C content makes them useful for strengthening the immune system as well as in protection against cardiovascular disease, eye problems and other health concerns[viii].
Vitamins, polyphenols and carotenoids contained within rose hips work synergistically as antioxidants[ix]. This means that they can help to counter the effects of free radicals (highly charged particles that can bounce off cell walls and cause damage). Studies have shown that rose hips have higher anti-oxidative properties than many other fruits that are known to be high in antioxidants[x]. This means they have excellent potential for the treatment of a variety of health issues.
They show potential as part of a treatment for obesity
A 12-week study with pre-obese subjects showed that 100mg of rose hip supplementation per day produced significant reductions in total fat, abdominal fat and body mass index in subjects after 12 weeks. No dietary intervention was used and improvements in the rose hip group were markedly higher than the placebo group[xi].
As a treatment for arthritis
Several studies highlight the value in treating osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of rose hips have been shown to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and improve the overall well being of subjects[xii].
A study of 94 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip provided subjects with either an herbal remedy or a placebo. After three weeks of treatment with rose hips, pain was reduced significantly as compared with the placebo group. “Rescue” medication use also declined significantly with this group. After a longer period of rose hip use (three months), disability, stiffness and disease severity were also significantly reduced[xiii].
Other studies highlight an improvement in both pain levels and joint range of motion (specifically hip flexion) with rose hip treatment[xiv]. Flavonoids contained in the rose hips, along with high vitamin content, might play roles in these anti-inflammatory effects[xv].
Other potential benefits and precautions
They are likely to be safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses. Some side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation and heart burn sometimes occur with excess. Take precautions if pregnant or breast feeding. Also use caution with: diabetes, G6PD deficiency, bleeding conditions, iron disorders, kidney stones, and when taking particular medications. Check with your health care practitioner regarding the safety of rose hips for you personally[xviii].
Tried fresh rose hips or use them in recipes? How do you enjoy using them? We love hearing your view, so feel free to leave a comment in the box below!
[xvi] Orhan N, Aslan M, Hosbas S, Deliorman OD. Antidiabetic Effect and Antioxidant Potential of Rosa canina Fruits. Phcog Mag [serial online] 2009 [cited 2018 Aug 7];5:309-15. Available from: http://www.phcog.com/text.asp?2009/5/20/309/58151