Blackberries are a flavor-packed fruit that is super versatile in the kitchen. A handful of blackberries can increase the deliciousness of almost any dish. Blackberries also confer a large number of health benefits, most of which relate to their sky-high concentration of antioxidants. With that in mind, here are six big reasons why you should regularly eat blackberries.
1. Blackberries Boost Brainpower
A 2009 study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that regularly eating blackberries can help combat the cognitive and motor skill decline that typically occurs during aging. Researchers fed blackberries to group of aged rats over an eight-week period and then ran them through a series of tests. The rats that regularly ate the blueberries (which made up 2 percent of their diet) displayed better motor performance, coordination, balance and short-term memory than the control group. These benefits can likely be traced to blackberries' high concentration of polyphenols.
A 2012 study at Brigham and Women's Hospital confirmed the finding that blackberries (and other berries) can help keep the mind sharp in old age. In this multi-decade study, participants who regularly consumed berries delayed their memory decline by an average of two and a half years.
Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University recently conducted a systematic review of the impact of berries on brain health. They discovered that regularly consuming berries had multiple benefits, including reduced brain inflammation and improved cognition.
2. Blackberries Combat Overeating and Obesity
Blackberries are high in dietary fiber. A typical serving contains 32 percent of your daily recommended value. Fiber is the Swiss army knife of nutrients; it plays an important role in a wide variety of functions.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber helps normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar, maintain bowel health and achieve a healthy weight. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that fiber appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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One of the most interesting effects of fiber is that it slows down digestion, making you feel full longer after you eat. Since a serving of blackberries is high in fiber but low in calories (62 per serving), it's a perfect food for anyone looking to lose weight—or for anyone craving an afternoon snack that will hold them over until dinner.
3. Blackberries Contribute to Eye Health
One of the most impressive nutritional benefits of blackberries is their remarkably high vitamin C content. One serving contains 50 percent of your daily recommended value.
Vitamin C has great benefits for eye health, no pun intended. It helps you see better by reducing your risk of cataracts, promoting healthy ocular blood vessels and slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Blackberries are also high in beta-carotene, a compound our bodies use to make vitamin A, which helps us see in low light conditions. Vitamin A deficiency is the No. 1 cause of preventable blindness in children. Each year, an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind due to vitamin A deficiency.
4. Blackberries Fight Cancer
Blackberries are known for their potent cancer-fighting properties. They contain high amounts of ellagic and gallic acid, two compounds that could play a key role in cancer prevention and tumor reversal. Although the research has been limited to laboratory animals thus far, the results have been encouraging. Several animal studies have found that consuming a diet that includes ellagic acid reduces the risk of developing tumors when exposed to cancer-causing substances.
But this fruit's anti-carcinogenic effects don't stop there. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, dietary fiber "convincingly" lowers the risk of colorectal cancer, and vitamin C "probably" lowers the risk of esophageal cancer. Fruits in general "probably" lower the risk of lung, stomach, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus cancer, according to the institute.
5. Blackberries Improve Vascular Health
A new study conducted at the University of Colorado, Boulder has discovered that taking a vitamin C supplement daily could have big benefits in preventing vascular disease.
The researchers monitored the activity levels of ET-1 in obese participants. ET-1 is a vessel-constricting protein, and overweight and obese adults have elevated activity of ET-1, which makes their vessels more likely to constrict and increases their risk of vascular disease.
Exercise has long been known as one way to reduce ET-1 activity. However, researchers found that participants who took a daily vitamin C supplement (500mg/day) reduced their vessel constriction as much as participants who began walking for exercise.
Although the study was small, and exercise is certainly the better overall option, the results bode well for vitamin C's ability to promote optimal blood vessel health.
6. Blackberries Keep Bones and Skin Healthy
The vitamin C in blackberries is important for growing and repairing tissue all over the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin C helps heal wounds and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin C also supports the production of collagen, which is needed to make cartilage, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and skin.
Blackberries are also high in vitamin K. One serving contains about a quarter of your recommended daily value. Athletes who consume a diet high in vitamin K have been found to be at a reduced risk of bone-related injuries such as fractures.
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