Blackberry is an edible fruit produced by many species in the genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae, hybrids among these species within the subgenus Rubus, and hybrids between the subgenera Rubus and Idaeobatus. The taxonomy of the blackberries has historically been confused because of hybridization and apomixis, so that species have often been grouped together and called species aggregates.
Blackberry is a delicious and versatile fruit, belonging to the Rubus genus in the Rosaceae family which also includes raspberry and dewberry.Native to the Northern temperate areas of the globe, blackberry has been honored as the official fruit of the state of Alabama and is found copiously in North America and the Pacific coast. Ancient cultures perceived blackberry plant as a weed or a wild plant, yet its medicinal history goes back to more than 2000 years. History reveals the traditional usage of blackberry fruit, leaf, bark, and roots by the Romans and Greeks for healing numerous health conditions ranging from mild infections to venomous bites. In fact, during the 18th century, the Greek cure of using blackberry for treating gout was so influential in Europe that it was famously known as the ‘gout berry’. Recent scientific pieces of evidence have contributed extensively in unearthing the therapeutic potential of blackberries and their worldwide consumption.
Nutritional Value of Blackberry
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||180 kJ (43 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||5.3 g|
|Vitamin A||214 IU|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database|
Health Benefits of Blackberry
- Antioxidants Activity – Blackberries are known for their anticancer properties. As they contain antioxidants, they are known to destroy the free radicals that harm cells and can lead to cancer. They also help protect and strengthen the immunity, which lowers the risk of cancer. They are especially helpful when it comes to reducing the risk of esophageal, cervical, and breast cancer. Blackberry leaves have been traditionally used in herbal medicine as an antimicrobial agent and for their healthful antioxidant properties. A laboratory study was published in the “International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents” in July 2009.
- Young blackberry leaves have high levels of antioxidants – or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, according to a study conducted by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and published in the “Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry” in February 2000. . fruticosus has been used in Europe to treat diabetes. An extract of the leaves showed a hypoglycemic effect on diabetic rats. Blackberry leaves and roots are a long-standing home remedy for anemia, regulates menses, diarrhea, and dysentery. The fruit and juice are taken for anemia. A standard infusion made, which can also be applied externally as a lotion, reported to cure psoriasis and scaly conditions of the skin. Blackberries are also used to make wine, brandy, and flavor liqueurs and cordials. They are used to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers, and gum inflammations. A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash.
- Motor and cognitive function – These effects may be the result of the polyphenols increasing antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory levels, or by direct effects on signaling, in the brain. Increased dietary intake of berry fruit, in particular, has a positive and profound impact on human health, performance, and disease. Thus, the present study examined a 2% blackberry-supplemented diet for its effectiveness in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal function when fed to aged (19-month-old) Fischer 344 rats for 8 weeks. The results showed that the blackberry diet improved motor performance on three tasks which rely on balance and co-ordination: the accelerating rotarod, wire suspension, and the small plank walk. Results for the Morris water maze showed that the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater working, or short-term, memory performance than the control rats. These data support our previous investigations in which we have seen improved motor and cognitive performance in aged rats after supplementation with other berry fruits.
- DPPH Free radical-scavenging activity – The scavenging activity for DPPH radicals was determined using spectrophotometric analysis based on the method described by Kumaran and Karunakaran (2007). A 1-ml sample solution was added to 3 ml of 0.04 mg/ml DPPH solution (prepared using anhydrous ethanol) and mixed thoroughly at room temperature. Absorbance at 517 nm was determined after 30 min. The scavenging activity was expressed as the percentage of scavenged DPPH radicals in the above assay system, calculated as (1−(Ai−Aj)/A c)×100%, where Ai is the absorbance of the DPPH solution mixed with the fruit sample, Aj is the absorbance of 3 ml ethanol (as a blank) mixed with the sample, and A c is the absorbance of DPPH solution with 1 ml ethanol instead of the sample (as a control). The EC50 value, denoting the effective concentration of sample required to scavenge 50% of DPPH free radicals, was calculated by graphical regression analysis, and expressed as mg/ml.
- Anti-cancer Properties – Blackberry fruit is effective against the development of cancer including lung cancer, colon cancer, and esophageal cancer. The micro-nutrients present in blackberries exert a chemo-preventive effect and prevent the proliferation of malignant cells. Various scientific studies conducted on blackberries have advocated this fact and have attributed its anti-cancer activity to the abundance of and other , such as ellagic acid and cyanidin-3-glucoside, which inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.
- Prevents Endothelial Dysfunction – Blackberries provide protection against the endothelial dysfunction which is characterized by an abnormal functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels. As suggested by scientific studies, they contain useful components such as cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, which fight the oxidative activity and help in normalizing multiple critical factors implicated in such conditions. It also helps in reducing DNA damage and guards against vascular failure.
- Boosts Cognition – Blackberry also extends its beneficial effect in improving the cognitive functions of the body. Studies have suggested that the components present in blackberries help slow down the age-related decline in motor and cognitive activity attributing to their super antioxidant power. Regular consumption of blackberries may prove useful in enhancing memory performance and improving behavioral and neuronal functions.
- Improves Digestion – Blackberries are a source of both insoluble and soluble fiber essential for the optimum functioning of the digestive system. Insoluble fiber in blackberries encourages easy and better absorption of water in the large intestine and adds bulk to the stools. This aids in regular bowel movements, freedom from constipation, and apt digestive health.
- Healthy Heart – The richness of flavonols such as anthocyanins in blackberry makes it a heart-friendly fruit. Other useful components such as magnesium and fiber present in blackberries prevent the arteries from getting blocked and stimulate a smooth flow of blood. This reduces the risk of various heart diseases such as stroke and atherosclerosis and maintains health. Magnesium, in blackberries, also helps in regulating the and prevents cardiac arrhythmia and irregular contraction.
- Boosts Immunity -Blackberries help in improving the immune system of the body, due to the presence of phytoestrogens, vitamins, and minerals. Regular consumption of blackberries helps fight various pathogens and protects the body from infections and other fatal illnesses.
- Weight Management – Attributing to very low amounts of sugar, blackberries assist in healthy weight management. Effective cleaning of the bowels owing to the fiber content in blackberries and very few amounts of calories make it an excellent snack during weight loss attempts.
- Healthy Bones – Blackberry contains vital minerals such as magnesium and calcium, which are essential for maintaining healthy bones. Calcium strengthens the bones and magnesium facilitatesthe absorption of calcium and potassium into the body. In addition to this, phosphorus present in blackberry aids in the regulation of calcium, thus assisting in building strong bones and also contributing to proper cellular functioning.
- Skin Care – Blackberry can serve as a delicious aid in maintaining beautiful skin. It is packed with multiple skin-friendly nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and other potent antioxidants. Vitamin E present in blackberry helps in maintaining the health of skin fats and prevents the skin from wrinkles. Apart from protecting the skin from oxidative damage, vitamin C, present in blackberry, is also responsible for the formation and strengthening of collagen structure which is the basis of connective tissue and thus aids in keeping the skin toned and tightened.
- Improves Vision – Blackberry is useful for maintaining healthy eyes. Regular consumption of blackberries helps in protecting the eyes from ultra-violet radiations, attributing to the presence of lutein. Lutein forms a protective pigment called macula in the area behind the retina and prevents it from the damage caused by oxidative stress and high wavelength light radiations. Furthermore, anthocyanosides and vitamins present in blackberries enhance the vision and protect the eyes from various diseases such as macular degeneration, cataract, and night blindness.
- Normal Blood Clotting – Blackberries contain a good amount of vitamin K, which helps in normal clotting of blood. It also helps in preventing excessive bleeding from slight injuries and aids in healing wounds. Vitamin K present in blackberries is also essential for protein modification and plays an important role in protecting bones from osteoporosis.
- Useful in Pregnancy – Blackberry is very beneficial for pregnant women.31] As a source of natural folate, blackberry contributes to the optimum growth of the cells and tissues and helps reduce the risk of birth defects in babies. Folate is a critical nutrient required for better cellular functioning in all age groups. Vitamin C and other antioxidants help boost the disease-fighting power of the expectant mother, and the presence of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus in blackberry strengthens bones and contributes to keeping her healthy. Besides, it has a refreshing taste which makes it a healthy option for a quick snack during pregnancy.[
- Traditional Use – Because the plant is strongly astringent, infusions are used to relieve diarrhea. As a mouthwash, it is used to strengthen spongy gums and ease mouth ulcers. The berries make a pleasant gargle for swallowing. Poultices or compresses are used externally on wounds and bruises. Decoctions are used to relieve diarrhea and hemorrhoids. The tannins in the herb not only tighten tissue but also help to control minor bleeding.