Cloudberries are a little-known berry with a unique appearance and an amber salmon-like color.
These berries also taste delicious and offer a reasonably impressive nutrition profile.
This article provides a guide to cloudberries, their nutritional properties, and their potential benefits.
What Are Cloudberries?
Cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus) are small low-growing berries that grow throughout the Northern hemisphere.
The berries grow in the Northern states of America, Canada, the Baltics states and Nordic countries, Russia, and some parts of the UK and Japan.
As shown in the above image, cloudberries have a striking appearance and look somewhat similar (in shape) to raspberries.
Cloudberries are white after first developing, and they slowly become red as they grow. Once they start to ripen, the berries become an intense amber color.
Although there are some commercial cloudberry companies, the berries mainly grow in the wild.
Since cloudberries only grow in certain areas, it can be hard to find them fresh, and store-bought options in other regions tend to be frozen berries.
There are also many cloudberry jams and drink products that are available, usually sourced from the Nordic countries.
You may also hear cloudberries referred to by some alternate names, which vary depending on the country, including;
- Knout berry
- Nordic berry
What Do Cloudberries Taste Like?
Similar to other berries, the taste of cloudberries can vary depending upon the ripeness of the fruit.
Cloudberries that are still red—and thus not fully ripe—have a sharp and sour flavor, while ripe (orange-color) berries are slightly sweet.
Although slightly tart, they are not as sour-tasting as gooseberries or citrus fruit.
The actual flavor is hard to describe, and the berries have their own unique taste.
Cloudberries are also very juicy, and according to the NCC nutrition database, they have a water content of 87% (1).
This puts cloudberries only slightly behind fruit like strawberries and boysenberries as one of the juiciest berries.
Based on data from the trusted NCC nutrition database, the following tables show the full nutrition profile for cloudberries per 100 grams.
|Saturated Fat||0.07 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.06 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.51 g|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||0.24 g|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||0.28 g|
|Vitamin C||158 mg||263 %|
|Vitamin K1||8.60 mcg||18.5 %|
|Vitamin E||1.61 mg||8.0 %|
|Niacin (B3)||0.90 mg||4.5 %|
|Folate||17 mcg||4.3 %|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.07 mg||4.1 %|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||0.08 mg||3.9 %|
|Thiamin (B1)||0.05 mg||3.3 %|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||0.17 mg||1.7 %|
|Choline||7.60 mg||1.4 %|
|Vitamin A||10.5 mcg RAE||1.2 %|
|Manganese||0.51 mg||25.5 %|
|Magnesium||41.0 mg||10.3 %|
|Potassium||231.0 mg||6.6 %|
|Zinc||0.70 mg||4.7 %|
|Iron||0.70 mg||3.9 %|
|Phosphorus||35.0 mg||3.5 %|
|Copper||0.05 mg||2.5 %|
|Calcium||18.0 mg||1.8 %|
|Selenium||0.40 mcg||0.6 %|
|Sodium||0.60 mg||<0.1 %|
As shown, cloudberries are primarily a source of carbohydrate and contain very little fat or protein. The berries provide a wide mix of vitamins and minerals.
Potential Health Benefits
In this section, we will look at some of the health benefits that cloudberries may offer.
These potential benefits are related to the nutrient content as well as some non-nutritive compounds that the berries contain.
1) A Significant Source of Vitamin C
Cloudberries are a rich source of vitamin C, offering 158 mg—or 263% DV—per 100 grams.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that has immune-boosting as well as antioxidant properties (2, 3).
Interestingly, cloudberries are in the history books for their high vitamin C concentration.
Two historical Latin texts from the 16th and 17th century discussed the scurvy-prevention properties of cloudberries.
As part of the information in these texts, it was revealed that King Christian IV of Denmark imported cloudberries—both the berries and plants—from Norway for the treatment of scurvy (4).
Cloudberries are one of the best sources of vitamin C among all fruit.
2) Cloudberries Contain a Wide Range of Polyphenols
In addition to the nutrients they contain, cloudberries contain a range of non-nutritive compounds such as polyphenols.
The berries offer anthocyanins, flavanols, flavonols, and phenolic acids.
Among these polyphenols, cloudberries contain especially large amounts of ellagitannins and ellagic acid (5).
In vitro (cell/test tube) studies show that the ellagitannins and ellagic acid in cloudberries can help to protect LDL from oxidation (6, 7).
On this note, many cardiovascular researchers believe oxidized LDL to be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as evidenced by numerous studies (7, 8).
However, it is worth noting that in vitro (out of the body) studies don’t necessarily mean the same thing happens inside the body.
Additionally, the bioavailability of ellagitannins is thought to be poor, and their potential health benefits need further research (9).
3) A Good Source of Magnesium
Cloudberries offer a moderate amount of magnesium, which is an essential mineral that can sometimes be hard to find in food.
Per 100 grams, the berries offer 41 mg of magnesium, which is equal to 10% of the mineral’s daily value.
Magnesium has numerous important functions in the human body as it is a cofactor for more than 300 enzymatic reactions (10).
As a result, a sufficient intake of the mineral is vital for maintaining good health (11).
Despite this, research indicates that the majority of Americans have an insufficient magnesium intake (12).
4) Cloudberries Can Sometimes Contain Large Amounts of Carotenoids
The carotenoid content of cloudberries can vary depending on the region and the amount of sunlight exposure the berries receive.
In some areas, the carotenoid content can be as high as 2840 mcg per 100 grams (13).
The carotenoids in cloudberries, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, may have a range of benefits on our health.
On this note, recent systematic reviews suggest that these compounds may potentially (14, 15);
- Help to prevent and manage age-related eye diseases
- Lower the risk of metabolic syndrome
Any Potential Drawbacks?
Outside of relatively rare allergies, there are no real concerns about side effects from cloudberries (16).
One of the only negative points is that they can be hard to find unless they grow in the surrounding area.
How Cloudberries Are Used
Similar to other common berries, cloudberries are used in various ways.
Firstly, many people enjoy eating cloudberries alone.
The berries have a unique and enjoyable taste, and they are very refreshing.
Cloudberry jams, otherwise known as Hjortronsylt, are a famous Swedish export.
However, the jam can be rather expensive, and it is very sweet.
Of course, the sugar content likely cancels out any potential health benefits of the fruit.
Liqueurs and Wine
There is an assortment of cloudberry liqueurs and wine, mostly originating from the Nordic countries.
One of the most famous of these is Lapponia Lakka, which is a popular Finnish liqueur made with cloudberries and various spices.
Like all lesser common fruits, it is easy to hear cloudberries referred to as a “superfood”.
However, calling any fruit a superfood is an exaggeration of its potential benefits, and that is the case here too.
That said, cloudberries are a healthy fruit that contains many beneficial nutrients.
Furthermore, they taste delicious too.
If you can find some cloudberries on sale locally, or pick your own, then they’re worth trying at least once.
For more on fruit, see this list of 50 fruits from around the world.