Blackberries are sweet, tart and succulent! They belong to the same family as dewberries and raspberries and they grow on thorny bushes called brambles. Blackberries are native to North America.
One cup of raw blackberries has only 62 calories, 1 gram of fat, and only 14 carbs.
Blackberries also have a low Glycemic Index (GI), at 25. GI ranks how carb-containing foods may impact your blood glucose response. A rating of 55 or lower is considered less likely to spike blood sugar levels. Glycemic Load (GL) takes into account the GI as well as the grams of carbohydrates in a typical serving. GL is considered to be a more accurate assessment of how a food can impact blood sugar. Blackberries’ GL is only 4, which is very low.
Blackberries are loaded with vitamin C, an antioxidant that may help fight off infections. One cup of raw blackberries has 30.2 mg of vitamin C. That’s half the daily recommended value. Vitamin C is integral to collagen formation in bones, connective tissue, and blood vessels. Vitamin C may also help you:
- heal wounds
- regenerate the skin
- battle free radicals (molecules released by toxins) in the body
- absorb iron
- shorten the common cold
- prevent scurvy
Some studies suggest vitamin C helps reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances in the body. It is thought that the antioxidants in vitamin C reduce oxidative stress in the body that can lead to cancer.
Blackberries are an excellent source of the two types of fiber, 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. Fiber helps normalize bowel movement, lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. 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.
Blackberries also contain vitamin A, which helps several functions in the body. Vitamin A supports the immune system, combating 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.
Blackberries have vitamin E, which is another powerful antioxidant. They also provide you with B-complex vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folate, which are all essential for optimal brain health.
Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamin K. This is a necessary nutrient for blood clotting, which is essential for proper wound healing. Studies have also linked good bone health to vitamin K.
Blackberries contain an array of essential minerals as well, including copper, magnesium and potassium. Plus, they’re rich in phytochemicals.
Blackberries are a good source of manganese which is vital to healthy bone development and a healthy immune system. It also helps your body metabolize carbs, amino acids, and cholesterol. Like vitamin C, manganese plays a key role in the formation of collagen. And the enzyme that helps manganese form collagen, prolidase, also helps wounds heal properly. Manganese may help prevent osteoporosis, manage blood sugar levels, and reduce epileptic seizures. One cup of raw blackberries contains 0.9 milligrams of manganese, almost half the daily recommended value.
Blackberries may improve brain health and help prevent memory loss caused by aging, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The review concluded that antioxidants in berries help fight free radicals and alter how brain neurons communicate. This may help reduce brain inflammation, which can lead to cognitive and motor issues common with aging. These compounds may help scavenge free radicals that play a role in aging and chronic diseases. In particular, anthocyanins, which are responsible for the fruit’s color, were suggested to help protect against cardiovascular disease, inflammation, cancer and other neurological diseases.
A 2013 study found blackberry extract has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities against some types of bacteria that cause oral disease.
How to Buy
Blackberries are fresh in the markets from June through August. Choose berries that are plump, tender, and bright in color. Avoid containers that are damp or stained, which might be signs of overripe fruit. Remove and discard any moldy or mushy berries so mold won’t spread to other berries.
Unlike some fruits, berries don’t ripen or get sweeter after picking.
How to Store
While blackberries can be easily stored, they’re highly perishable and delicate. To lengthen the freshness and avoid spoilage, do not wash them until you are planning to eat or freeze them. Refrigerate the unwashed berries, loosely covered, in a single layer.
Freezing blackberries can prolong their shelf life up to six months. To do this, rinse the berries, pat them dry, then lay them flat on a baking sheet in a single layer and put them in the freezer. Once the berries are thoroughly frozen, you can store them in a resealable bag or freezer container.
How to Cook
Do not rinse blackberries under running water because the pressure can crush them. Instead, place the berries in a colander and dip them in a bowl of cold water. Gently swish the colander in the water, then allow the berries to drain.
Add blackberries to salads and smoothies.