Blackberries are available in abundance by the end of the summer. It’s about time you start loading up on this yummy fruit. The blackberry is part of the Rosaceae family. The small fruit (which is made up of even smaller fruits called drupes) is deep purple to black in color.
Wild blackberries are plentiful in eastern North America and on the Pacific coast, especially in Oregon. They are now cultivated around the world. The delicious berries are rich in many important vitamins, minerals, and healthy antioxidants.
Read on to find out more about why blackberries are a healthy choice.
The nutritional benefits of blackberries
Blackberries are low in calories and essentially fat-free. They’re a fairly good source of iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
One cup of fresh, raw blackberries has just 62 calories. It also has less than 1 gram of fat, no cholesterol, and only 1 gram of sodium. The low calories combined with the high-fiber content make blackberries the perfect snack for helping people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Your skin, hair, and nails will benefit from the high levels of vitamin A and C in blackberries. One cup of blackberries fulfills roughly 50 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. It also contains over 6 percent of your vitamin A needs.
In addition, blackberries are high in vitamin K, fulfilling roughly 36 percent of your daily needs in 1 cup. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. It’s also important for bone health. People deficient in vitamin K are at a higher risk of fractures, especially postmenopausal women.
Blackberries contain about 5 percent of your daily requirement for iron in a single cup. Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells, which supply oxygen to the cells of your body. Iron is critical to help prevent iron-deficiency anemia.
A serving of blackberries provides you nearly 8 grams of fiber. This is more fiber than a cup of bran flakes, which has about 7 grams. Fiber helps slow down the digestion of food. It can help you stay full until your next meal and keep you from snacking.
Fiber also bulks up your stool and could help keep you from getting constipated. By slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, fiber also helps control insulin and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
The deep, dark purple coloring of the blackberry is owed to its high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are compounds that belong to the flavonoid class of plant phenolic compounds. These are known to have strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are important because they help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals in the body.
Blackberries were ranked highest by far among the top 50 foods with the highest antioxidant contents per serving size, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Antioxidants have potential health benefits including lowering your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
How to eat blackberries
Blackberries can be eaten fresh, in preserves or jams, or in baked goods like cobblers and pies. Frozen blackberries also make a great addition to smoothies, or as a topping to your favorite dessert.
If you’re going to pick your own, be sure to choose plump, full blackberries that are almost black in color. Blackberries won’t ripen any further after they are picked. After you buy or pick your berries, be sure to check them over and discard berries that show any signs mold or rotting. But don’t wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Store fresh blackberries in the refrigerator. Try to eat or freeze them within a couple of days.
Blackberries are versatile and can be included in both sweet and savory recipes. Try the following blogger-approved recipes to get your fix.
Grilled chicken with blackberry sweet and sour sauce
<a href="http://www.steamykitchen.com">Steamy Kitchen</a>
Need a way to spice up the traditional chicken dish? Try this version topped with blackberries. View the recipe.
<a href="http://bakingamoment.com/how-to-make-seedless-blackberry-jam-no-pectin/">Baking a Moment</a>
No blackberry recipe list would be complete without blackberry jam. This version is perfect for tomorrow’s toast. View the recipe.
Fontina and blackberry basil smash grilled cheese sandwich
<a href="http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/06/grilled-fontina-blackberry-basil-smash-sandwiches/">How Sweet It Is </a>
To most people’s surprise, blackberries go great with cheese. View the recipe.
Blackberry chèvre salad
<a href="http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/05/20/blackberry-chevre-salad/">Annie’s Eats </a>
Don’t have a lot of time for cooking? Blackberries can be incorporated into just about any salad. View the recipe.
Blackberries make an excellent healthy snack. They are low in calories and high in:
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
- vitamin K
- antioxidants, especially anthocyanins
Blackberries can help fight cancer and heart disease, combat obesity, and help you maintain a healthy complexion. They’re low in calories, so there’s no need to worry about limiting the amount of fresh, raw blackberries you eat.
While blackberries contain fiber to help you feel full for longer, if you’re not completely satisfied from a bowl of blackberries, try pairing blackberries with foods high in protein like yogurt or cottage cheese.