Are You Eating Enough Blackberries?
Blackberries are native to Europe, but farmers grow them across the United States all year round. They come from brambles, which are a type of thorny bush.
In this article, we look at some of the potential health benefits associated with eating blackberries, and how to include more blackberries in a typical diet.
Benefits of blackberries
The following are some of the benefits people can gain by eating blackberries:
1. Vitamin C
Blackberries contain a high level of vitamin C. One serving of 100 grams (g) contains 35 percent of an individual’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C.
Humans are unable to synthesize their own vitamin C, so it is essential to include it as part of a healthy diet.
Vitamin C is involved in protein synthesis and is necessary for the body to produce collagen and certain neurotransmitters. These processes are vital for many bodily functions, including wound healing.
Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties and is involved in immune system functioning.
2. Source of fiber
A 100 g serving of blackberries contains 14 percent of the RDA of fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot break down into smaller, sugar molecules, as it does with other carbs. Fiber plays an crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels and sugar consumption.
There are two types of fiber in food, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and it is associated with lowering blood sugar levels and helping a person maintain a healthy level of cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water but supports healthy digestion.
Blackberries contain both soluble and insoluble types of fiber.
Blackberries contain high levels of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins. Antioxidants help people to fight against the adverse impact of free radicals in the body.
Free radicals can damage cells and are thought to be closely involved in the aging process plus other health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
The body uses antioxidants to reduce the damage that free radicals can cause. It is possible that when people eat foods that contain antioxidants, they are supporting this process, but more research is required to confirm this.
4. Vitamin K
Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamin K. This is a necessary nutrient for blood clotting, which is essential for proper wound healing.
People have also linked good bone health to vitamin K. However, it is essential that a person discusses their vitamin K intake with their doctor if they are on any blood thinners.
5. Vitamin A
Blackberries also contain vitamin A, which serves several functions in the body. Vitamin A supports the immune system, which combats infections and illness. It also supports the growth and maintenance of teeth and bones, as well as keeping skin healthy.
Vitamin A is responsible for producing the pigments in the retina of the eye and helps to support sight, particularly in dim lighting.
6. Brain functioning
A study in 2009 found that rats that consumed blackberries had improved cognitive and motor skills compared to a control group of rats that did not consume blackberries.
The authors of the study suggested that this could be due to chemicals called polyphenols that are in blackberries.
More research is needed to determine if these benefits occur in humans.
How to include more blackberries in your diet
People can easily include blackberries as a part of any healthy diet. A popular method is to consume blackberries with breakfast.
People can include them as part of a fruit salad with plain or Greek yogurt. Alternatively, they can add blackberries to cereals, including porridge.
Another simple way to include blackberries into a diet is in fruit smoothies.
Blackberries work well in smoothies with other berries, such as blueberries or raspberries, or with apples. Adding protein powder and oats can increase the nutritional content and help a person feel fuller for longer.
Blackberries also work well in desserts, such as apple and blackberry pie or crumble. Desserts, however, often contain high levels of sugar, which may detract from some of the health benefits associated with blackberries.
Are there any side effects?
Blackberries are safe to consume, and unlikely to cause side effects in people who are not allergic to them.
Choosing whole blackberries with no added sugar is recommended, whether frozen or fresh.
Some canned blackberries may contain added sugar or preservatives that can lead to negative health effects.
Blackberries are rich in many nutrients and have a range of health benefits. More research is needed to support some of these benefits, but science has documented many of the positive actions of the vitamins contained in blackberries.
People can easily add blackberries to a healthy diet, such as with breakfast, in a fruit smoothie, or as a snack. Blackberries are safe to consume, but people should avoid eating too many to keep levels of fruit sugar or fructose to a healthy level.