What are blackberries good for?

Blackberry Bliss
Botanical name: Rubus fruticosus

Blackberry Nutrition Facts

Nothing says “summer” like a fresh fruit salad, and if blackberries aren’t in the mix, you’re definitely missing out! Sweet and succulent, this fruit belongs to the same family as dewberries and raspberries.

Blackberries, which grow on thorny bushes called brambles1 are native to Europe2 but are now also grown commercially in the U.S.3 Blackberries grow well in a wide range of soils 4 although good drainage is necessary. If you want to grow them yourself, remember to plant them in an area where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.5 While blackberries may be available all year round,6 they may thrive best during late summer and fall.7

Blackberries have a sweet and tart flavor,8 making them a perfect addition to salads or smoothies.9 They can also be used as a yogurt topping,10 mixed into sauces that complement meat recipes11 or enjoyed by themselves12 as a light snack or dessert best consumed in moderation.13

While blackberries can be easily stored, they’re highly perishable14 and delicate.15 To lengthen the freshness and prevent spoilage, avoid washing them unless you plan to eat them.16

Keep berries (including blackberries) loosely covered so they will remain fresh up to two weeks. You can also freeze them, as suggested in the book “Growing Up Gourmet: 125 Healthy Meals for Everybody and Every Baby.”17

First, take some berries and rinse them. Pat them dry, lay them flat on a baking sheet and freeze them. Once the berries are thoroughly frozen, you can store them in a resealable bag or freezer container18 where they can keep for around 12 months.19

Health benefits of blackberries

The nutritional content of blackberries makes for an extensive list. Blackberries are loaded with vitamin C — a 100-gram serving has 21.0 milligrams of this vitamin — but are low in sodium and calories, with only 43 calories per serving. They are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber,20 containing 5.3 grams all in all.21 Blackberries are also home to vitamins A, E and K, B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12), minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium and potassium, and other nutrients such as pantothenic acid22 and folic acid.23,24

Blackberries are also valued for their antioxidant capabilities, as they contain  phytochemicals25 such as lutein, zeaxanthin,26 anthocyanins, catechins,27 ellagic acid, tannins, gallic acid, quercetin, cyanidins, kaempferol28 and salicylic acid.29,30

Such compounds may help scavenge free radicals31 and reactive oxygen species (ROS)32 that play a role in aging and chronic diseases.33 In particular, anthocyanins, which are responsible for the fruit’s color, were suggested to help protect against aging,34 inflammation,35 cancer36 and other neurological diseases.37,38

Results from a 2000 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study noted that when they’re at their “green stages,” blackberries tend to have high-ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) activity, allowing them to be considered a valuable source of antioxidants.39

Despite these benefits, it’s advised that you consume blackberries in moderation, as they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts. You can refer to this table for more information about blackberries’ nutritional values:40

Blackberry nutrition facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
 
Calories 43  
Calories from Fat    
Total Fat 0.49 g  
Saturated Fat 0.014 g  
Trans Fat 0 g  
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 1 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 9.61 g  
Dietary Fiber 5.3 g  
Sugar 4.88 g  
Protein 1.39 g  
Vitamin A 11 ug Vitamin C 21.0 mg
Calcium 29 mg Iron 0.62 mg

Studies done on blackberries

There is a growing body of research claiming that berries have cancer-fighting abilities.41,42 Blackberries are rich in cyanidin 3-glucoside,43 ellagic acid,44 lignans45 and the flavonoid myricetin46 — substances that may have cancer-protective properties.47,48,49,50,51,52 A 2010 Breast Cancer and Research article revealed that a lower death risk was recorded among postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer who consumed high amounts of plant lignans.53

Cyanidin 3-glucoside, according to authors of a 2011 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study, may possess chemotherapeutic and chemo-protective activities.54 Ellagic acid, another potent ingredient in blackberries, has been shown to inhibit cancer formation,55,56 while myricetin may promote antioxidant action.57

Blackberries may also have beneficial effects on your brain health. In another Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study, published in 2012, high antioxidant levels in blackberries, strawberries and other berries are found to help manage age-related memory loss.58 Study authors further reiterated in a Science Daily article that:59

“… Berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition.”

Blackberry healthy recipes:
Triple berry kale salad

Blackberry Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

1 head of curly kale, leaves removed from stem and torn

1 cup fresh tart cherries, pitted and sliced

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh blackberries

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1 avocado, chopped

2/3 cup chopped toasted almonds

¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

For the Strawberry Vinaigrette

3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 pinch Himalayan salt

1 pinch pepper

1 pinch cinnamon

 

Procedure:

  1. To make the vinaigrette,combine all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Place kale in a large bowl, and add about 1/4 cup of the strawberry vinaigrette. Massage and rub dressing into kale with your hands, then let the kale sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add in salt, pepper, cherries, berries and avocado, then add a few more tablespoons of dressing and toss. Finish by topping with chopped almonds.

This recipe makes four servings.
(Recipe adapted from HowSweetEats.com60)

Blackberries fun facts

There is an old Irish proverb that states, “On Michaelmas Day, the devil puts his foot on blackberries.” According to British and Irish superstition,61 the last day when blackberries should be harvested would be on Old Michaelmas Day or the Feast of St. Michael, which usually falls on October 10th.62

Legend has it that this was the day Lucifer was banished from heaven after a battle with St. Michael. Upon falling from the skies, he landed on a thorny blackberry bush in hell. He cursed and spat on the fruits,63 then scorched them with his fiery breath, making them unfit for human consumption.64

 
 

Summary

Deep-flavored65 and juicy,66 blackberries are a summertime or fall berry67 that are a popular addition to salads and smoothies.68 Their dark color indicates their high antioxidant content,69,70,71 and may be a boon for fighting the signs of aging,72,73 cancer74 and other degenerative diseases.75,76 There’s no shortage of nutrients in these little fruits, as they’re packed with vitamins A, E and K, B vitamins, fiber77 and an impressive array of other plant compounds.78,79,80,81,82,83

However, remember that blackberries are best consumed in their natural state in order to obtain their benefits. You can also freeze them and keep them for around a year.84



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