What are blackberries?
Blackberries are an edible fruit, commonly found in the UK from June until November, and they’re often seen growing in forests and hedgerows. Each individual blackberry, when ripe, is made up of 20-50 single seeds known as drupelets that are small, juice-filled and a deep purplish black. Technically, they are an ‘aggregate fruit’ rather than a berry.
Nutritional benefits of blackberries
Blackberries contain a wide array of important nutrients including potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E and most of our B vitamins. They are also a rich source of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that give blackberries their deep purple colour.
Around 10 blackberries count towards one of your five-a-day. Take a look at our infographic to find out what counts as 5-a-day.
Can blackberries protect against heart disease?
As well as being an excellent source of anthocyanins, one research study did show that a specific extract found in blackberry juice offered protective effects against heart disease.
Read more about what to eat for a healthy heart.
Can blackberries help prevent cancer?
While there is no single ‘superfood’ that can prevent cancer, and certain risk factors for cancer are unrelated to diet, there is evidence that eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of cancer. A study published by the Nutrition & Cancer Journal also found that certain fresh blackberry extracts may help to prevent tumour growth and spread of cancer, although more research is required.
Can blackberries boost brainpower?
An animal study by the Nutritional Neuroscience Journal found that including blackberries regularly in the diet improved both motor and cognitive function which could provide benefits in humans with more research.
A study by the European Journal of Nutrition also found that consuming wild blackberries can provide a protective effect on the brain thanks to their rich polyphenol content.
Blackberries contain the mineral manganese which plays an important role in brain function and deficiencies have been found to increase the risk of conditions such as epilepsy.
Discover the 10 foods that can boost your brainpower.
Are blackberries antibacterial and antiviral?
A 2013 study by the Journal of Periodontal Research found that blackberries demonstrated antibacterial properties, as well anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects, which could offer potential natural therapy against tooth infections. Blackberries also appear to have antiviral properties – research has shown that blackberry extract could help to treat cold sores when applied topically.
Can blackberries help inflammatory conditions?
There have been several studies into the anti-inflammatory effects of blackberries, which suggest that they could offer protection against inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, although more research is needed. One study in particular documented that blackberries reduced inflammation in gastric conditions, such as stomach ulcers, by as much as 88%.
Discover Arthritis Research UK’s top 5 diet tips to ease arthritis.
Nutritionally, what is the best way to cook blackberries?
Blackberries can be eaten fresh or used in cooking, and whilst there is no specific research over which is best, cooking does appear to reduce antioxidant status. You can also buy frozen blackberries when they are out of season.
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This article was reviewed on 1st October 2018 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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