Top 10 health benefits of blackberries
Are blackberries good for you? Rich in protective plant compounds as well as vitamins and minerals, these deep purple berries are packed with goodness.
What are blackberries?
Blackberries are an edible fruit, commonly found in the UK from the end of the summer until October, when they’re often seen growing in woodland and hedgerows. Each berry, when ripe, is made up of 20-50 single seeds known as drupelets that are small, juice-filled and a deep purplish black colour. Technically, they are an ‘aggregate fruit’ rather than a berry.
Are blackberries good for you?
- Rich in protective plant compounds
- May protect against heart disease
- May support cardiovascular health
- May help prevent cancer
- May boost brainpower
- May be anti-inflammatory
- May support oral health
- May have anti-diabetic effects
- May support gut health
- May help treat cold sores
An 80g serving provides:
20kcals/83 KJ, 0.7g protein, 0.2g fat, 4.1g carbohydrates, 3.3g fibre, 128mg potassium, 1.12mg manganese, 12mg vitamin C
An 80g serving (around 10 blackberries) counts towards one of your five-a-day. Take a look at our infographic to find out more about what counts as 5-a-day.
Top 10 benefits of blackberries
1. Rich in protective plant compounds
Blackberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, the powerful plant compounds (polyphenols) that are responsible for the berries' deep purple colour and provide us with valuable health benefits. Blackberries also have high levels of other compounds, including flavonols and ellagitannins, which also have beneficial and protective properties.
2. May protect against heart disease
One study that investigated the anthocyanin content of blackberry juice found it provided protective effects against heart disease. Anthocyanins do this by preventing coagulation and promoting the relaxation of the blood vessels, helping to keep blood flowing more freely.
3. May support cardiovascular health
Read more about what to eat for a healthy heart.
4. May 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 may reduce your risk.
Interesting research suggests the plant compounds in blackberries may offer a number of anti-cancer benefits including influencing our gene expression and inhibiting one of the enzymes responsible for cancer cell growth.
5. May boost brainpower
An animal study by the Nutritional Neuroscience Journal found that including blackberries regularly in the diet improved both motor and cognitive function and may also be of relevance for humans.
If you like foraging for your berries then a study by the European Journal of Nutrition will be of interest; they found that consuming wild blackberries may provide a protective effect on the brain thanks to their rich polyphenol content.
It is also worth noting that blackberries are a good source of the mineral manganese which plays an important role in brain function; deficiencies of this mineral have been found to increase the risk of conditions such as epilepsy.
Discover the 10 foods that can boost your brainpower.
6. May be anti-inflammatory
There have been several studies examining the anti-inflammatory effects of blackberries, suggesting that blackberries may offer protection against inflammatory conditions (like 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 the top 5 diet tips to ease arthritis from Versus Arthritis.
7. May support oral health
A 2013 study by the Journal of Periodontal Research found that blackberries have antibacterial properties, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects. This may, potentially, offer a natural therapy approach against tooth infections.
8. May have anti-diabetic effects
Eating berries may support your body's ability to manage blood sugar levels thanks to their rich polyphenol content combined with their contribution of fibre and naturally low sugar content. While clinical studies are limited, population studies demonstrate favourable effects of eating anthocyanin-rich berries on the development and management of type II diabetes.
9. May support gut health
The polyphenols in blackberries, including anthocyanins, act as a fuel source for the beneficial bacteria that live in our gut. These bacteria convert polyphenols into active chemicals that help to keep our gut healthy and our immune system functioning well.
10. May help treat cold sores
Blackberries also appear to have antiviral properties – research has shown that blackberry extract could help to treat cold sores when applied topically.
Are blackberries safe for everyone?
Allergies to blackberries are rare. Although the berry is a member of the Rosaceae family, which is known for cross reactivity allergies, especially for those who suffer with birch pollen allergy, there have been no reports relating to blackberries. This suggests that blackberries are safe for most people. However, if you have a sensitivity to salicylates you should be aware that blackberries are a source of these natural chemicals.
Overall, are blackberries good for you?
Blackberries make a valuable addition to the diet. They contain plant compounds that have a protective effect and potentially reduce the growth of cancer cells, provide anti-inflammatory properties and offer benefits for the heart, gut and immune system. Instead of spiking blood sugar, blackberries – being a low-GI fruit – may help to slow the digestion of glucose and reduce insulin spikes, making them a healthy choice for those with type II diabetes.
If you are concerned about food allergies or have any other concerns, please consult your GP or registered dietitian for guidance.
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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.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.