Don’t let the summer go by without getting your fill of this antioxidant-rich berry! Get to know the blackberry and why it might give other berry varieties a run for their money.
Blackberries are well-known as a popular summertime fruit. Out in the Ozarks region of the Midwest, you can find blackberries growing wild with several farms to even pick out your own, straight from the bush.
Blackberries are technically a cluster of several small fruits called “druplets” (comparable to grapes) and have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. These sweet and tangy berries are popular in dessert recipes such as cobblers, pies, and jams and they make a wonderful topping on yogurt, salads, or cereal. Besides being a tasty gift from nature, they are a nutrient dense food that commonly falls into “superfood” category.
Blackberries are considered a nutritional powerhouse in part because of what gives them their deep, blue-black coloration. This color compound is called anthocyanin, which is a type of antioxidant. Blackberries are also high in fiber, low in natural sugars, and provide a remarkable list of heart-healthy, immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. If you are not already a fan of blackberries, here are five great reasons to show them some love:
1. Promotes gut health
Blackberries are high in fiber, containing 8 grams per 1 cup, which includes a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber work together to help you to feel full for longer, feed the “good bacteria” (aka probiotics) in your gut, and prevent constipation. Experts recommend consuming 25 grams of fiber per day, so with just 1 cup of berries, you are over a third of the way there!
2. Keeps the heart happy
Many studies have shown that consuming berries can promote a healthy cardiovascular system. This is in large part because of the antioxidant levels, as well as nutrients such as Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
3. Benefits the aging brain
Compounds found in blackberries have been demonstrated in animal studies to improve short-term memory function, cognitive, and motor skills. Researchers believe that this may be due to the polyphenols found in berries decreasing inflammation and/or enhancing signaling in the brain.
4. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is typically a healthy immune response to protect the body in times of illness, however, chronic inflammation is linked to disorders such as cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. Some contributors to chronic inflammation include poor diet, stress, or over-exercising. In one in vitro study, the compounds found in blackberries were shown to hinder inflammatory processes and repair damaged cells.
5. May protect against cancer
In one laboratory study, extracts from blackberries have been shown to inhibit and slow cancer cell growth. There is a type of compound found in blackberries, called cyanidin-3-glucoside, that has been shown in lab studies to aid in slowing the growth of lung cancer.
So if you’re looking to add another berry to your variety, look no further. Stock up this summer!
Lindsay Sparks, RDN is a Registered Dietitian based in Springfield, MO. In her private practice, she focuses on empowering others to embrace their bodies and live a life well-nourished. Through food, health at every size, and intuitive eating principles, she helps others cultivate meaningful, happy lives. Learn more about Lindsay at Feed Your Spark.