Blackberry is native to the European continent and a common sight in the British countries. It is an ancient member of herbal medicine, and its variants are now grown in North America and India.
Blackberry extracts were found to protect the skin from ultraviolet damage in mice studies. The fruit may achieve this by combating inflammation (1).
Blackberry is also rich in nutrients like manganese, fiber, and vitamins C and K. It also contains tannins, anthocyanins, and similar phytonutrients. Some research claims that it may help with weight loss.
You can enjoy the goodness of blackberries by consuming their plant leaves directly. Making a juice or tea off the berries is another way to relish them. In this article, we will discuss the major benefits of blackberries and the simple ways of consuming them.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Health Benefits Of Blackberries?
1. Can Boost Skin Health With High Vitamin C
The phenolic compounds in blackberries can slow down aging and protect the skin from UVB radiation.
Blackberries are rich in vitamin C. A cup of these fruits (144 grams) contains about 30 milligrams of the nutrient (2).
In mice studies, extracts of the fruit could protect skin from UVB-induced damage. The topical application of the extract could help in this regard (1).
Blackberries are also rich in phenolic acids. Studies show that phenolic compounds may have the potential to treat various skin issues, including signs of aging and injury (3). Blackberries may give younger-looking skin, although more research is warranted to establish this.
Plant phenolics, in general, have the potential to prevent or reverse the signs of aging. These can include wrinkles and hyperpigmentation marks (3).
These phenolics may also have beneficial effects on healing wounds and burns (3).
2. May Supplement Your Weight Loss Efforts
The anthocyanins in blackberries can suppress fat accumulation and may help with weight loss.
Blackberries, or any dark-colored berries, are synonymous with anthocyanins. These dark pigment molecules can suppress fat accumulation and may trigger weight loss.
Anthocyanins like cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G), flavan-3-ols, and hydroxycinnamic acids induce changes in the expression levels of adipocytokines in your adipose tissue. The result of this is suppression in fat accumulation and reduction of lipid (LDL) synthesis in the liver and white adipose tissue (4).
However, there is limited research on the anti-obesity effects of blackberries. Further studies may help us understand the lipid-lowering activity of anthocyanins (4).
3. Could Boost Brain Health
Blackberry antioxidants may help prevent age-related memory loss.
Wild blackberries are rich in vitamins C, A, K, and folate and potassium. They also contain abundant polyphenols and tannins. These nutrients and phytochemicals protect your neurons (brain cells) from oxidative injury (5).
The active components in blackberries are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Hence, they may assist in checking age-related memory loss and other alterations (7).
4. May Help Prevent Cancer And DNA Damage
Blackberries are known for their antioxidant profile. Free radicals, including peroxide and superoxide ions, are converted into less carcinogenic intermediates by berry juices made of blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, etc. (8).
Blackberries also contain free radical-scavenging enzymes. Fair amounts of essential antioxidant enzymes, like catalase, glutathione reductase, and ascorbate peroxidase, were identified in strawberries and blackberries. This could mean protection from DNA damage inflicted by the carcinogens (8).
5. Can Help Fight Inflammation
The anthocyanins in blackberries can help fight inflammation in the body.
Extensive research proves the anti-inflammatory capacity of blackberries. The polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, counter different kinds of pro-inflammatory compounds in your body (10).
For instance, nitric oxide promotes inflammation and triggers endothelial dysfunction in your body. Interestingly, blackberry anthocyanins were found to inhibit the production of nitric oxide. This way, they may decrease inflammation in the body and its cells (10).
However, we need more studies to understand the effects of whole blackberries versus purified blackberry anthocyanins and the potential synergistic actions of anthocyanins with other nutrients in the berries (10).
6. May Improve Heart Health
The anthocyanins in blackberries may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease (11).
LDL (bad cholesterol) accumulation is one of the top risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). LDL molecules interact with free radicals and form atherosclerotic plaques in your blood vessels (10).
Studies also indicate that blackberry anthocyanins inhibit blood platelet aggregation and strengthen blood capillaries. These actions may protect the cells from oxidative damage and reduce the risk of heart disease (12).
7. Could Improve Bone Health
Post-menopausal bone loss is becoming more prevalent in today’s women. Oxidative stress happens to be the major cause here.
Consuming foods rich in anthocyanins can slow down the bone mineral loss to some extent. Cyanidin-3-glucoside in blackberries is one such anthocyanin that can combat oxidative stress effectively. A rat study reported that a 5% cyanidin-3-glucoside-rich blackberry diet improved the bone mineral density of the tibial, vertebral, and femoral bones (13).
As per another mice study, blackberries also inhibit the release of IL-12 (a pro-inflammatory compound), and this may have a positive effect on bone health (14).
8. May Promote Dental Health
In studies, blackberry extract was found to fight certain groups of microbes that cause periodontitis and dental caries (F. nucleatum, P. gingivalis, and S. mutans). The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the fruit could be the reason here (15).
The exact mechanism behind this action is yet to be understood.
A decoction of the leaves of the blackberry plant could help treat oral thrush (when gargled). The formulation also makes for a good general mouthwash (9).
We have seen that blackberries contain antioxidants and other nutrients. In the following section, let’s explore the nutritional profile of this fruit.
Nutritional Profile Of Blackberries
|Nutritional value Of Blackberries|
|Nutrient||Unit||Serving size (1 cup, 144 g)|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.71|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||13.84|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||7.6|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||30.2|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mg||16|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||308|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||µg||170|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||1.68|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||mg||28.5|
|Proanthocyanidin polymers (>10mers)||mg||2.2|
Values sourced from USDA, Blackberries, raw
Blackberries are storehouses of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and folate, potassium, minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, sugars, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (9).
Blackberries have an exotic phytochemical profile and are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These include alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, glycosides, terpenoids, sterols, saponins, organic acids, tannins, and volatile oils (9).
Flavonols like kaempferol-glucoside, quercetin-glucoside, rutin, myricetin-glucoside, and anthocyanins, including cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-rutinoside, pelargonidin-3-glucoside, and peonidin-3-glucoside, are present in blackberries (16).
Phenolic acids like ellagic acid, ellagitannins (sanguiin and lambertianin C), gallic acid, and coumaric acid also contribute to the antioxidant potential of blackberries (16).
Now you know why/how blackberries have a whopping ORAC (antioxidant potential per 100 g) score of 2036 units!
Blackberries are available in different variants. Though they all have a similar nutritional profile and offer similar benefits, it is important to know briefly about each. We have that covered in the following section.
What Are The Different Variants Of Blackberries?
Some blackberry shrubs trail along the surface, while some grow erect. Trailing blackberries have canes that are not self-supporting, so they grow as creepers using a trellis system. Erect blackberries have stiff, arching canes that are somewhat self-supporting, so they might grow as climbers.
Initially, the plant grows rapidly as a primocane – only with leaves across its length. In the second year, the plant produces flowers as a floricane. Under favorable conditions, the floricane develops green fruit pods. These mature from green to red, and finally to rich black (9).
In blackberries, you have the semi-erect, erect, primocane-fruiting, and trailing varieties. These are a few members of each variety:
- Semi-erect: Triple Crown, Chester, and Hull
- Erect: Illini-Hardy, Arapaho, Apache, and Ouachita
- Primocane-fruiting: Prime Jan, Prime Jim, Prime-Ark 45, and Prime-Ark Freedom
- Trailing: Marionberry, Boysenberry, Loganberry, Youngberry, and Thornless Evergreen
The variants are specific to climatic conditions. Their number and diversity keep increasing.
Though the variants appear complex, the fruit is a simple delicacy. Fresh and properly stored blackberries taste delicious. Here are a few tips for buying and storing blackberries the right way. You can come up with your own maintenance routine, though. Take a look!
How To Pick And Store Blackberries The Right Way
- When out for shopping, look for plump, firm, deeply colored berries.
- If the berries look yellow-orange, they might have a fungal infestation. Avoid bruised, pitted, discolored, and oozing berries.
- Wash them thoroughly under clean water, dry with a paper towel, and eat them right away. Or, you could cover them (without washing) and store them in the refrigerator.
- Freshly picked berries should stay for about seven days in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can also freeze them.
- To freeze, layer a tray or a suitable wide container with a cookie sheet or butter paper. Arrange the berries at a good distance from each other on the cookie sheet tray and place it in the deep freezer.
- Once they are frozen, put the berries in a freezer bag and store. This ensures the blackberries don’t stick to one another.
If you are clueless about what to do with the blackberries in your kitchen or freezer, you can try these options.
Quick And Simple Ways To Serve Blackberries
- Pack a few blackberries along with some nuts for a filling and quick snack.
- Blend a handful of blackberries with milk and fruits of your choice for a yummy smoothie.
- Add a few frozen or fresh berries to your bowl of whole-grain cereal to make it interesting and tasty.
- Give your salad a tangy twist by tossing a few blackberries in it.
- Take your frozen yogurt or ice creams to a whole new level – eat them with crispy frozen blackberries.
Before you go blackberry shopping, it is important to know if they may cause any adverse effects.
Do Blackberries Have Any Side Effects Or Associated Risks?
Hardly a few adverse effects have supporting evidence.
Berry polyphenols, in general, may interfere with certain digestive enzymes and inhibit their activity. These include flavonols, anthocyanins, and ellagitannins (17).
This interference can have mild to severe undesirable effects on your body (17).
Since these effects have not been studied and characterized well, it is difficult to state preventive measures or how many of these berries you can ideally eat in a day.
In A Nutshell…
Blackberries are a therapeutic treat and a beautiful addition to your kitchen garden. In addition to taste, these berries deliver potent antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential dietary fiber to your body.
Try including blackberries in your meals and snacks, and watch your immunity and memory improve.
- Blackberry extract inhibits UVB-induced oxidative damage and inflammation through MAP kinases and NF-κB signaling pathways in SKH-1 mice skin, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Blackberries, raw, U.S. Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central.
- The Potential of Plant Phenolics in Prevention and Therapy of Skin Disorders, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Recent Progress in Anti-Obesity and Anti-Diabetes Effect of Berries, Antioxidants, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases, Neural Regeneration Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of blackberries on motor and cognitive function in aged rats, Nutritional Neuroscience, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Medicinal Effect of Nutraceutical Fruits for the Cognition and Brain Health, Scienctifica, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Protective Role of Dietary Berries in Cancer, Antioxidants, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Rubus fruticosus (blackberry) use as an herbal medicine, Pharmacognosy Review, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health, Nutrition Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The Blackberry Fruit: A Review on Its Composition and Chemistry, Metabolism and Bioavailability, and Health Benefits, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Academia.
- Methyl jasmonate enhances antioxidant activity and flavonoid content in blackberries (Rubus sp.) and promotes antiproliferation of human cancer cells, Food Chemistry, ScienceDirect.https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/16238/PDF
- Cyanidin 3-O-β-D-Glucoside Improves Bone Indices, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Dietary Polyphenols, Berries, and Age-Related Bone Loss: A Review Based on Human, Animal, and Cell Studies, Antioxidants, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antibacterial Effects of Blackberry Extract Target Periodontopathogens, Journal of Periodontal Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The inhibitory effects of berry polyphenols on digestive enzymes, Biofactors, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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