What are blackberries?
Blackberries are an edible fruit with amazing health benefits, full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. This summer fruit often grows in woodlands or hedgerows and is technically an ‘aggregate fruit’ rather than a berry. It consists of between 20 and 50 seeds known as drupelets that are sweet yet tart in flavour.
Blackberries can easily be added into your diet so that you can experience the health benefits of this tasty fruit. They can be eaten as they are, or added to smoothies, pies (be mindful that the sugar content of pies will detract from the health benefits), and many other recipes.
Health benefits of blackberries
Blackberries are a good source of vitamin C, with 100g of blackberries providing 35% of the recommended daily intake. We are not able to synthesise our own vitamin C, therefore, it is important to include vitamin C sources in our diets. It is used for protein synthesis and is needed for producing collagen (which helps maintain skin, bone, and joint health) and some neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain).
Vitamin C may also help with:
- Healing wounds
- Shortening the common cold
- Absorbing iron
- Preventing scurvy
It is common for people to not get enough fibre in their diets. Dietary fibre is important because a lack of fibre can result in bloating, constipation and high blood sugar and cholesterol. Additionally, insufficient dietary fibre may result in an increased risk of heart disease.1
Blackberries contain both main types of dietary fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre, as the name suggests, dissolves in water and is associated with lowering blood sugar levels and keeping a healthy level of cholesterol. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and is linked to healthy digestion. Fibre can also help you feel full for longer, reducing the desire to snack on more unhealthy foods.
Blackberries contain potent antioxidants, which have protective effects against heart disease, inflammatory disorders and metabolic disorders, and can also reduce the risk of some types of cancer.2
Additionally, the antioxidants in blackberries can help cognitive and motor function by fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation in the brain.
Blackberries provide 17% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, which is a nutrient needed for blood clotting and wound healing. People who are taking blood thinner medication should discuss their vitamin K intake with their doctor before consuming blackberries, however.
Vitamin K also supports bone health. A deficiency in vitamin K can result in thinner bones and fractures.
Blackberries are a rich source of vitamin A, which has several functions in your body. It plays a role in supporting your immune system, combating infection and illness. Vitamin A also helps maintain healthy eyesight and skin.
High in manganese, blackberries provide 26% of your daily recommended intake. It plays several essential roles in your body:
- Like vitamin C, it helps in the formation of collagen
- Essential to bone development and a healthy immune system
- Helps metabolise amino acids, carbohydrates and cholesterol
- May prevent osteoporosis
- Helps manage blood sugar levels
- May improve oral health
A study in 2013 found that blackberry extract contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities that fight against some oral issues such as gum disease and cavities.3
Blackberries are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties. This may help them to alleviate some conditions like arthritis, however, more research is needed. One study found that blackberries reduced gastric conditions, such as ulcers, in 88% of cases.4
Here are the nutritional values of 100g of raw blackberries, alongside the % of the ideal daily intake:4
- Calories: 43 (2%)
- Total fat: 0.5g (0%)
- Sodium: 1mg (0%)
- Potassium: 162mg (4%)
- Dietary fibre: 5g (20%)
- Sugar: 4.9g (16%)
- Protein: 1.4g (2%)
- Vitamin C: 21mg (35%)
- Iron: 0.62mg (3%)
- Magnesium: 20mg (5%)
- Manganese: 0.65mg (26%)
- Calcium: 29mg (2%)
- Vitamin K: 20µg (17%)
- Vitamin A: 11µg (24%)
Side effects and other concerns
Blackberries are generally safe for most people, with allergic reaction being rare. However, if you have a sensitivity to salicylates, you should be mindful that blackberries are a source of these naturally-occurring chemicals.
Tinned blackberries often contain sugars and/or preservatives, which can have a negative impact on your health. The healthiest blackberries are fresh or frozen.
As blackberries are high in vitamin K, which is involved in the blood clotting process, people on blood thinners should discuss their vitamin K intake with their doctor before consuming blackberries.
Blackberries are a fruit with multiple health benefits and little downsides. They are versatile and can be consumed in many different ways, eaten as they come or adding them to several types of food.
They benefit heart health, brain function, bone health, your immune system, bowel function, wound healing and much more. Although more research is needed, there are thought to be more potential benefits, such as preventing some cancers or reducing the risk of dementia.
- Threapleton DE, Greenwood DC, Evans CEL, Cleghorn CL, Nykjaer C, Woodhead C, et al. Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ [Internet]. 2013 Dec 19 [cited 2023 May 18];347:f6879. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6879
- Golovinskaia O, Wang CK. Review of functional and pharmacological activities of berries. Molecules [Internet]. 2021 Jun 25 [cited 2023 May 18];26(13):3904. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8271923/
- González OA, Escamilla C, Danaher RJ, Dai J, Ebersole JL, Mumper RJ, et al. Antibacterial effects of blackberry extract target periodontopathogens. J Periodontal Res [Internet]. 2013 Feb [cited 2023 May 18];48(1):80–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3540108/
- Blackberries, raw [Internet]. FoodData Central. 2019 [cited 2023 May 18]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173946/nutrients