Blackberries for your health
Blackberry, a humble fruit, is a bramble or thorny plant, and not to be confused with the Black Raspberry, though they originate from the same Rubus genus in the Rosaceae family.
The thing that distinguishes the blackberry from its raspberry relatives is whether or not the torus (receptacle or stem) “picks with” (i.e., stays with) the fruit.
When one picks a blackberry fruit, the torus does stay with the fruit.
With a raspberry, the torus remains on the plant, leaving a hollow core in the raspberry fruit.
Blackberry in the diet
The leaves of the blackberry plant are food for certain caterpillars and some grazing animals like deer.
However, the blackberry isn’t really just one fruit, its an aggregate fruit made up of many drupes or drupelets. A drupe is a fruit with a center stone or pit (seed), so the blackberry you pick off the vine may be 75-80 clustered fruits that sprang from a single plant ovary.
Maybe that’s why they contain so much nutritional goodness.
Cultivated blackberries are notable for their significant contents of dietary fiber, and vitamins C and K. For example, a 100 gram serving of raw blackberries supplies 43 calories and 5 grams of dietary fiber. Even the seeds have nutritional value. Blackberries contain numerous large seeds that are not always preferred by consumers, but health enthusiasts know the seeds contain oil which is rich in beneficial Omega3 and Omega6 fats, as well as protein, dietary fiber, carotenoids, ellagitannins and ellagic acid.
Blackberries contain numerous phytochemicals including polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, salicylic acid, ellagic acid, and fiber. The anthocyanins in blackberries are responsible for their rich dark color.
The phytochemical components of blackberries, salicylic acid and ellagic acid, have been associated in preliminary research with toxicity to cancer cells, including breast cancer cells.
Imagine fighting cancer with a handful of berries instead of chemotherapy. The berries won’t make your hair fall out like chemotherapy. Rather, they will improve the condition of your hair, while the phytonutrients in the berries can improve the firmness and texture of your skin.
Blackberries rank highly among fruits for in vitro antioxidant strength, particularly because of their dense content of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins, and cyanidins.
One report placed the blackberry at the top of more than 1000 polyphenol-rich foods consumed in the United States.
The concept of a health benefit from consuming darkly colored foods like blackberries is gaining relevance among scientifically verified and accepted health claims. Blackberries get their rich dark color from the same type of cyanidins that make red cabbage red, and eggplants purple.
In some areas wild growing blackberries are considered an invasive weed, to be eradicated.
Repair Free Radical Damage
Blackberries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit, even higher than blueberries and raspberries. They are particularly high in anthocyanins, a dark-colored antioxidant phytochemical that gives blackberries their characteristic purple-black tone. The antioxidants in blackberries may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, and they could also help fight the signs of aging.
When you eat blackberries, you’re giving your body a dose of germ-fighting ellagic acid, an antioxidant compound with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Each dry-weight gram of blackberries has 3.69 milligrams of ellagic acid. The vitamin C in blackberries also may help your body fight off germs. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin C helps your immune system function properly to ward off disease.
When it comes to keeping your brain healthy, eating blackberries is a smart move. A 2012 review published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” looked at data from human, animal, and cell culture studies and found that berries, including blackberries, benefit the brain in a few different ways.
In addition to being high in antioxidants that fight free radical damage in the brain, blackberries also affect cell signaling between neurons and reduce cellular inflammation. This improves the functioning of neurons involved in both thinking and motor control. More research is underway to discover all the benefits which come from adding blackberries to your diet.
Check out our recipes page to discover a few new taste delights for your family.