Are blackberries healthy? Yes! That’s why we’re dishing up six of the best health benefits of blackberries for you today.
We tend to think of berries as being mostly blues and reds. Maybe that’s why the blackberry exists with relatively little fanfare compared to its more brightly colored brethren.
In fact, anthocyanin, the phytochemical that makes berries red or blue, makes them black too. The more anthocyanin, the darker the berry. And the more anthocyanin, the more immune-boosting, disease-fighting power a berry has.
With that in mind, let’s never underestimate the blackberry again.
6 Health Benefits of Blackberries
We know you're anxious to start eating, so grab a bowl of blackberries and let's get to know this superberry's health benefits!
1. Blackberries Give You a Stronger Immune System
Driscoll’s, one of America’s largest providers of berries, boasts on its website, “Studies show blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant contents per serving of any food tested.”
Indeed, it’s true. The 2014 study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And blackberries were the #1 ranked berry. Check out how they stack up to the other berry contenders:
- Blackberries: 3.990 mmol/100 g
- Raspberries: 2.334 mmol/100 g
- Strawberries: 2.159 mmol/100 g
- Blueberries: 2.154 mmol/100 g
So, how do antioxidants help protect against illness and strengthen the immune system?
They take away the disease-promoting powers of harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals take up residence in our bodies either from external sources such as pollution and toxins or as byproducts of normal metabolic processes. Antioxidants stabilize these highly reactive molecules before they can cause oxidative stress and damage our cells, tissue, and very DNA.
Studies show that antioxidants can enhance the immune response of people exposed to free radicals from the environment. And an antioxidant-rich diet full of fresh blackberries helps to keep the immune system strong and illness at bay.
In addition to fighting free radicals—those pesky out-of-control molecules that incite oxidative damage and leave us vulnerable to aging and disease—blackberries also have antiseptic, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties. The acids gallic acid, rutin, and ellagic acid in blackberries convey these medicinal properties.
2. Blackberries Give You Better Digestive Health
Blackberries are an excellent source of fiber, which helps keeps you regular, your digestive system free of disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis, and is good for overall colon health. Sprinkle 1 cup of blackberries on a bowl of granola and you're getting approximately 8 grams of fiber and fulfilling 30% of your USDA recommended daily value before noon!
Fiber helps keep you feeling full, so your weight-loss goals aren't sabotaged by mid-afternoon cravings. It also helps keep cholesterol levels normal and support healthy blood sugar and insulin levels.
Blackberries contain a special type of fiber called a prebiotic, which is the type of fiber the beneficial bacteria in your gut gobble up to multiply and thrive, further strengthening the immune system, boosting mood, and healing with their anti-inflammatory effects.
3. Brains Might Become Smarter with Blackberries
In test tubes and animal studies, blackberries and other berries high in anthocyanins (cancer-fighting antioxidants that give fruits their distinctive colors) have been shown to improve thinking and even stave off dementia.
In a review of the neuroprotective effects of berries published in Neural Regeneration Research, researchers concluded that, due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, blackberries help keep brain cells from dying from oxidation. Oxidation generally is a hallmark of brain degeneration.
And a research review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that blackberries may even help ward off age-related memory loss by neutralizing free radicals and influencing brain neuron communication for improved cognition and motor function.
4. Blackberries Help Fight Gum Disease
Blackberries contain bacteria-fighting compounds that can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by inhibiting the proliferation of bacteria that infect the gums and cause plaque.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Periodontal Research showed these compounds reduced levels of P. gingivalis, F. nucleatum, and S. mutans in a test tube. It concluded, however, that along with the proven anti-inflammatory effects of blackberries, extract from the fruit is “a promising target as an adjunct for prevention and/or complementary therapy of periodontal infections.”
And we owe it all to the antiviral and antibacterial polyphenols in blackberries.
5. Blackberries Contain Cancer-Fighting Compounds
There's a reason the American Cancer Society advises eating at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day. The nutrients in these plant-based foods have been proven to help lower the risk of many different types of cancers, and blackberries are one of the top cancer-fighting superfoods.
Vitamins in blackberries include anthocyanins, vitamin K, and vitamin C. When they pair up with the blackberry’s high fiber content, it becomes a trifecta of cancer-fighting fuel with each blackberry you eat.
A recent study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Sixth Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research highlighted the blackberry's benefit on esophageal cancer. Results showed that 6 months' supplementation with 32 to 45 grams of black raspberries daily decreased oxidative stress caused by the precancerous condition Barrett's esophagus, thereby helping to lower esophageal cancer risk.
And previous research has linked blackberry intake to a reduced risk for colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and oral cancer.
A study in Nutrition and Cancer showed that anthocyanins in blackberry extract reduced oxidative stress and demonstrated anti-tumor effects in human lung cancer cells. And an anthocyanin called cyanidin-3-glucoside has shown particular benefit in the suppression of cancerous lung tumors.
In 2006, UCLA researchers assessed the anti-cancer effects of six types of berries, the blackberry among them, and found that they all inhibited cancer growth to varying degrees.
6. Blackberries Help Enhance Heart Health
Flavonoid-full blackberries help prevent heart disease by protecting against cellular damage. And remember the anthocyanin cyanidin-3-glucoside we just discussed? One study showed it may just help defend against cardiovascular disease and improve blood vessel function by protecting against endothelial dysfunction and vascular failure.
The dietary fiber, specifically soluble fiber, in blackberries can also help lower cholesterol. While 80% of the fiber in blackberries is insoluble fiber (which is what makes it such a tasty prebiotic food for our beneficial gut bacteria) the remaining 20% is soluble fiber that helps remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. And low cholesterol is a boon to heart health!
It's a Blackberry Bonanza
And there you have it. Six health benefits of blackberries…and six reasons why you should eat a handful of these gems today! Grab a bushel full of these fresh berries next time you're at your local farmers market or in the organic section of your grocery store. Freeze some in the freezer and that way you'll have them handy whenever you want a tasty, stomach-soothing blackberry smoothie. A serving of blackberries a day truly can help keep the doctor away!