Health Benefits of Blackberries
Blackberries are a delicious little “aggregate fruit” that grow wild on thorny bushes and are cultivated on every temperate continent, including Africa and Asia. Composed of many individual drupelets, each like a small berry with one seed, each drupelet contributes extra skin, seeds and pectin with dietary fiber value to the nutritional content of blackberries, making them among the highest fiber content plants in the world.
Blackberries can be eaten fresh, frozen and canned and are popularly made into jams, juices, desserts and even wine. Rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, blackberries are highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants. They are also low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, making them one of the best fruits out there for a balanced diet.
Anthocyanins, which give blackberries their dark color, are an antioxidant shown to reduce inflammation. As an antioxidant, they destroy free radicals in the body that harm cells and lead to cancer. Research has also shown that the ellagic acid in blackberries may have anti-cancer properties. One cup of blackberries contains half of the daily recommendation of the antioxidant vitamin C, which protects the immune system and may lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Researchers have found that blackberries may reduce esophageal cancer by relieving the oxidative stress caused by Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition usually brought about by gastroesophageal reflux disease. Perhaps the greatest benefit from eating blackberries is their high level of phenolic acids which, besides having many other potential health benefits, are antioxidant compounds known as powerful anti-carcinogenic agents. Because of these compounds, blackberries have been given an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 5350 per 100 grams, placing them near the top of ORAC fruits.
The anthocyanins that give blackberries their dark color are antioxidants shown to reduce inflammation by helping combat free radicals in the body that destroy cells and lead to heart disease. Vitamin C in blackberries acts as an antioxidant, and one cup of this delicious berry contains half of the daily recommendation of vitamin C. The immune system uses vitamin C to fight illness adequate vitamin C intake may lower the risk of developing heart disease. One cup of blackberries contains over thirty percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber, promoting healthy digestion and reducing the risk of heart disease.
As are all berries, blackberries are a great source of ellagic acid, an antioxidant shown to protect the skin from damage from ultraviolet light. Studies have also shown that ellagic acid may also repair skin damaged by the sun. Vitamin C helps heal wounds, and studies also show vitamin C may even lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Studies of cyanidin-3-glucoside, a compound found in blackberries showed it prevents skin cancer by inhibiting tumors from growing and spreading.
Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in blackberries and one cup contains half of the daily recommendation of vitamin C. The body uses vitamin C for protection from immune system deficiencies, and may reduce the chances of macular degeneration, a condition in which fine vision deteriorates, resulting in central vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant estrogens found in blackberries that may help relieve the common symptoms of PMS like bloating, food cravings, and even menopausal symptoms including hot flashes.
Digestive Tract Health
Just one cup of blackberries contains over thirty percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and aids in maintaining bowel regularity by bulking up the feces and reducing the time it takes matter to pass all the way through the intestines. Bowel regularity is commonly associated with a decreased risk for colon cancer.
Thirty percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber is to be found in just one cup of blackberries. The steady movement of fiber through the digestive system allows for a measured breakdown of food into its component parts. This even breakdown of food helps to curtail extremes regarding simple sugar uptake from the digestive tract. An excess of simple sugar uptake all at once can produce an unwanted blood sugar spike. A lack of simple sugar uptake may produce a rapid blood sugar drop. Either extreme can upset blood sugar balance. The quantity of fiber in blackberries helps avoid both extremes.
Blackberries are a good source of vitamin K, offering 36% of the daily recommended amount of this nutrient used by the body for the clotting of blood and to aid the absorption of calcium.