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 and closely resembles dewberries and raspberries.
Blackberries, which grow on thorny bushes called brambles, are native to Europe, but are now also grown commercially in the U.S. They are available all year round but thrive during spring and early summer. Blackberries grow well in a wide range of soils although good drainage is necessary and remember to plant them where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.
The blackberry is technically not just one fruit. Each blackberry consists of 80-100 small drupelets that are arranged in a circular fashion, akin to a miniature grape bunch. Each berry has a juicy pulp, a single tiny seed, and measures three to four centimeters long.
Blackberries have a sweet, tart flavor, making them a perfect addition to salads or fruit smoothies. They can also be used as a topping for yogurt or blended into savory sauces that are perfect for meat recipes. Blackberries can be enjoyed by themselves, as a light snack (best consumed in moderation) or dessert.
The blackberry is a robust fruit that can be easily stored: simply wash the berries, cut off the hulls, and vacuum seal in a Ziploc bag before storing in the freezer. They will keep for several months – just defrost and they’re ready to go!
Top 10 Health Benefits of Blackberries
- Full of Fiber: One cup of blackberries has over 7.6 grams of fiber, which more than a cup of bran flakes. Their high fiber content also gives you energy and keeps you full, which is great way to stay away from unhealthy snack foods. Fiber is also an excellent digestive aide.
- Full of anti-oxidants: Blackberries are brimming with antioxidants that protect the body. They are full of phenolic acids, flavonoids and flavonols particularly anthocyanosides present in blackberries work against the harmful oxygen free molecules and counteract their action- meaning they act as a natural detox for the body.
- Improve Brain Power, including Cognitive and Motor Function: Medical journal “Nutritional Neuroscience” claims that black berries can help you maintain motor and cognitive skills you age. The study indicated that berries improved balance and coordination improved over a stretch of time. The polyphenols in blackberries increase antioxidant levels enough to make them, which is potentially beneficial to aging adults.
- Improved Oral Health: Eating blackberries kills illness-causing oral bacteria. An Oregon State University study states that blackberries contain gallic acid, rutin and ellagic acid, a natural phenol antioxidant found in fruits and veggies that has anti-carcinogenic and anti-bacterial properties. In 2012, researchers from the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina testes blackberries’ anti-bacterial properties on 10 different kinds of bacteria. The studies concluded that blackberry can kill pathogens and has antivirus properties helpful to treat periodontal infections.
- Anti-cancer properties: Blackberry fruit’s antioxidant properties are helpful in preventing lung cancer, colon cancer and esophageal cancer. They have micronutrients that exert chemopreventive effect and prevent the spread of cancerous cells. Scientists have attributed the anti-cancer activity to the prevalence of anthocyanins and other phytochemicals such as ellagic acid and cyaniding-3-glucoside.
- Healthy heart: Flavonols such as anthocyanin protect the heart. High levels of magnesium and fiber protect the arteries from blockage and stimulate smooth blood flow. The high levels of magnesium also helps regulate blood pressure and protect against heart attack.
- Immunity booster: The phytoestrogens, vitamins and minerals in blackberries boosts immunity and eating blackberries helps fight various pathogens and protects from body from infections and death.
- Aids in weight management: Blackberries are low in sugar and high in fiber, which assists in maintaining a healthy weight.
- Healthy bones: The magnesium and calcium found in blackberries help maintain healthy bones. The calcium strengthens the bones and the magnesium content in the blackberries aids the absorption of calcium and potassium in the body, and phosphorus aids in regulation of calcium and assists in building strong bones and contributes in proper cellular functioning.
- Normal blood clotting: Blackberries are high in vitamin K which helps in normal clotting of blood and promotes healthy blood and circulation. Vitamin K is also useful for protein modification and plays an important role in protecting bones from osteoporosis.