9 Amazing Health Benefits Of Blackberries, Skin Recipes & Mask

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lackberries are loaded with dietary fibers and an array of bioactive compounds that contribute to the amazing health benefits of these delicious berries. Edible berries are regarded as nutritional powerhouses. Blackberries are no different from the other common berries. Though they are usually consumed fresh, frozen blackberries and processed blackberry products such as syrups, jams, concentrates, purees, wines, and teas are also popular. The appearance, texture, and taste of blackberry, in addition to a number of its therapeutic properties, are attributed to its primary and secondary metabolites. They also determine the shelf-life of the berries. [1]

Blackberries are believed to have been part of the human diet for millennia. Mexico is currently the largest producer of blackberries, followed by the United States, where they are primarily cultivated in Oregon. Europe, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, and the Mediterranean countries are other major producers of blackberries. For over 2000 years blackberries are being consumed across Europe. Historically, the prickly blackberries shrubs were planted to protect territories from invaders. The botanical name of the common blackberry is Rubus fruticosus. There are believed to be more than 375 subspecies of blackberries. Owing to the presence of short sharp thorns, blackberry shrubs are commonly known as bramble. They can grow up to 10 feet tall. Because of the long blooming period, blackberry flowers are seen alongside ripe fruits at the same time. Though blackberry fruits and juice appear black, on closer observation you will notice that the actual color is dark purple. Just as raspberries, blackberries too are not true berries. They are comprised of several small fruits or druplets attached to a fibrous central core. The best quality blackberries are harvested from late summer to fall.[2][3][4]


Nutritional Value of Blackberry

A cup of raw blackberries, which is equivalent to 144 g of berries, contains 14.7 g of carbohydrates of which 7g is natural sugar and 7.6 g is dietary fiber, 2 g of protein and 0.4 g of polyunsaturated fats comprising of 135 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 268 mg of omega-6 fatty acids, and 127 g of water. Blackberry is an excellent source of dietary fibers. One cup serving of blackberry provides 31% of your body’s daily fiber requirement. The calorie content of the raw fruit is moderately high. Consuming a cup of blackberries gives you approximately 75 calories of energy. [5][6][7]

1. Vitamins

Blackberries are rich in vitamin C. A cup of blackberries can meet almost 50% of your body’s daily vitamin C need. It is also a good source of vitamin K. About 36% of the body’s daily vitamin K requirement can be met from a cup of blackberries. Several B vitamins including folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamins B5 and B6 are found in blackberries.

Furthermore, a cup of blackberries provides 6% of the daily value of vitamin A and 8% of the daily value of vitamin E. It is also a moderate source of beta carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.[5]

2. Minerals

Blackberries are a fair source of a number of minerals including manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. [6]

3. Phytochemicals

Blackberries contain a number of phytochemicals including flavonoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid and salicylic acid. The dark color of blackberry is attributed to anthocyanins. Anthocyanins and other polyphenolic constituents of blackberry such as quercetin, cyanidins, gallic acid, ellagic acid, and tannins are responsible for the antioxidant activity of blackberries. [7]


Health Benefits of Blackberries

The following are the various health benefits of Blackberries:

1. Helps in Diabetes Management

Diabetics can incorporate blackberry in their diet to improve blood sugar management. In an experimental study, researchers found that daily ingestion of blackberry fruit extract for five weeks caused a significant reduction in the postprandial blood glucose level in rats with alloxan-induced hyperglycemia. Blackberry helps in controlling the blood sugar level by blocking alpha-glucosidase, one of the enzymes that break down carbohydrates to ease sugar absorption. Furthermore, blackberry is also known to inhibit the pancreatic enzyme alpha-amylase that is involved in the production of glucose from starch and glycogen. The antioxidant bioactive constituents of blackberry are also beneficial for the health of diabetics. In addition to blackberry fruit, the leaves of blackberry bush are also valued for their blood-sugar lowering property. [8]

2. Fights Gastric Inflammation and Peptic Ulcers

The anti-inflammatory property of blackberry attributed to the plant compounds ellagitannins can help in controlling gastric inflammation. The gastrointestinal tract serves as a barrier between pathogens and the human host. Overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a gram-negative pathogen, stimulates the inflammatory process that leads to gastric inflammation. It is a common cause of gastric ulcer and gastritis.

In vivo study has revealed that ingesting ellagitannin rich blackberry fruit extract helps in reducing gastric inflammation and peptic ulcers. Ellagitannins are also recognized for their potent anti-H. pylori activity. Hence, blackberry can be included in the anti-ulcer diet. [9]

3. Constipation Remedy

Blackberry is the ideal laxative for people susceptible to constipation. It is rich in dietary fiber that provides bulk to the stools. Furthermore, the mild laxative effect of blackberry improves peristaltic movement that eases defecation. Combine half a cup of blackberries with half a cup of distilled water and consume the mixture in the morning. Frequent intake of blackberry and water mixture helps in restoring regularity. [10]

4. Good for the Brain

Eating blackberries can help in preserving healthy brain function. Studies have shown that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the polyphenols such as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins found in berries support the brain health. The phenolics are capable of retarding brain aging and can inhibit cognitive deficit. In an experimental study, researchers found that rats fed on 2% blackberry diet performed better in behavioral tests.

Cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, the major bioactive anthocyanin constituent in blackberry is believed to play the most important role in fighting free-radical induced damage to the brain cells. Research suggests that the main blackberry anthocyanin could reduce endothelial dysfunction and vascular disorders that adversely affect brain function. [11]

5. Good for the Heart

The beneficial constituents of blackberries that support normal brain function are also known to be good for heart health. The anthocyanins in blackberries can help in improving blood circulation. They can protect you from artery blockages. Consuming blackberries can help in reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, cardiac arrhythmia, irregular contractions, heart attacks, and strokes. [12] In addition to the antioxidant effect of the blackberry anthocyanin that helps in inhibiting oxidative activity in the blood vessels, the high fiber content of blackberries plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease. The soluble fibers released by the berries in the digestive tract binds to the cholesterol-containing bile acids, thereby helping in eliminating the LDL or bad cholesterol from the body.

Furthermore, intake of dietary fiber is known to reduce the levels of inflammatory markers associated with cardiovascular diseases. Blackberry is a fair source of potassium, the mineral that helps in maintaining the normal heartbeat. Furthermore, a part of the beneficial effect of blackberry on the cardiovascular system is due to its high vitamin C content. Vitamin C is known to preserve the flexibility of the arteries. [13]

6. Immune Booster

Blackberries, just as the other common berries, are known for their ability to promote immune function. Rich in vitamin C and the antioxidant flavonoids, blackberries help in strengthening the immune system, thereby reducing your risk of developing severe infections. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory activity of blackberry indicates that it is capable of inhibiting abnormal immune responses. [14]

7. Helps Reduce Cancer Risk

The anti-cancer activities of berries are associated with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of their phenolic constituents. Studies suggest that berries or their constituents by attenuating inflammation, diminishing DNA damage and inhibiting angiogenesis and proliferation of malignant cells and be affecting apoptosis could help in fighting cancers. [15] Researchers at the Ohio State University had found in an animal study that blackberry ingestion can cause up to 50% reduction in the growth of cancer tumors. They could also help in slowing down the development of pre-cancer cells. [16]

The gut microbiota converts ellagitannins present in blackberry into urolithins. Studies suggest that urolithins play an important role in combating prostate, breast, colon and esophageal cancers. It is also believed that the main blackberry anthocyanin is capable of suppressing proliferation of human lung carcinoma cells. [17]

8. Helps Maintain Healthy Vision

As a fair source of beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that play a crucial role in protecting the retina, blackberries could help in maintaining healthy vision. Consuming blackberries is believed to reduce risks of eye disorders such as night blindness, cataracts, and macular degeneration. [18]

9. Good for the Skin

The antioxidant-rich blackberry is the ideal constituent of a wrinkle-fighting diet. The potent antioxidants found in blackberry are believed to be effective in alleviating inflammatory skin conditions. As a free radical scavenger, the blackberry antioxidants can help in reducing skin damage associated with the formation of wrinkles. Furthermore, the anti-wrinkle effect of blackberries is attributed to vitamin E found in blackberries. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits oxidation of fats in the skin thereby helping in keeping the skin fats healthy and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. [19]

Apart from consuming blackberries, the juicy berries can be used topically for skin care. They can be added to face packs and facial scrubs.

Blackberry Face Mask

Ingredients
Five blackberries
Five fresh basil leaves
Three tablespoons of honey

Procedure
Mash the berries and extract the juice. Crush the basil leaves. Put the blackberry juice and the crushed basil leaves in a small bowl. Add honey and blend the ingredients thoroughly. Take about 1 ½ teaspoon of the blackberry face mask and spread it evenly on clean skin. Relax for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse off the face mask. Vitamin C and the gentle organic acids present in blackberry help in toning the skin. Basil leaves lend antibacterial property to the face mask and honey enhances the face mask’s anti-aging effect. [20]


Blackberry Scrub

Ingredients
Half a cup of fresh blackberries
Half a cup of walnuts

Procedure
Put the blackberries and walnuts in a food processor or electric blender. Blend until smooth. Apply the paste on damp face. In circular motions massage your skin. Wash off the paste with lukewarm water. [21]


How to Choose the Best Blackberries

Blackberry flowers start to appear from mid-June. The berries start to ripen from mid-July. The unripe berries are tart and hard. The ripening process stops once the blackberries are plucked. Therefore, to devour the sweet luscious blackberries, select berries without hulls. Hulls are attached to berries that are unripe. However, this does not mean that unripe blackberries are not suitable for consumption. If you can tolerate the tart taste, you can eat the unripe berries. The tart berries are best for making blackberry jams. Generally, blackberries are harvested when they are fully ripe but before they are overripe. The soft and mushy overripe berries are susceptible to mold. To make matters worse, even one or two moldy blackberries packed with good quality berries can rapidly damage the other berries. The ripe blackberries that are considered best for consumption are plump and have a deep rich color. The best-tasting blackberries are the ones that have been produced organically. Fresh blackberries can be refrigerated for two to three days. It is advisable to wash blackberries just before consuming them. Molds can easily appear on blackberries when moisture remains on the skin for a longer time.

However, due to their low shelf-life, fresh blackberries are not easily available. Almost 98% blackberries are processed. They are frozen or canned. Blackberry-based processed foods such as jam, jelly, juice, syrup, wine, liqueurs, brandy, pie and cake are popular alternatives to whole blackberries, though they may not provide the same health benefits. [22][23][24]


Possible Side Effects

Ingesting blackberry is known to be safe when taken in food amounts by healthy individuals. Allergic reactions following blackberry consumption occur in individuals hypersensitive to blackberry or one of its constituents. [25] Since blackberry contains salicylates, consumption of blackberry could increase the risk of allergic reactions in individuals allergic to aspirin. People susceptible to calcium-oxalate stones should limit their blackberry intake due to the presence of oxalic acid in the berries. [26]