Blackberries are one of the most nutrient-dense of all berries; they packed with powerful antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, folate and fiber, making them useful in the prevention and treatment of heart and circulatory problems, and protective against cancers, degenerative diseases and infections.
Blackberries are shrubs that belong to the rose family, and loganberries are a hybrid of the blackberry. The deep blue and purple colors of blackberries are a leading disease fighting pigment. Foods rich in this brilliant blue color, the anthocyannin pigment, mop up more free radicals in the body than any other food, protecting against disease.
Blackberries are high in antioxidants: an in vitro study found that blackberries had the highest antioxidant capacity when compared with blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. They are also rich in Vitamin C, fiber and into the phytochemicals tannin, flavonoid, and cyanidin, as well as ellagic acid, all which have anticarcinogenic properties. Cooking does not seem to destroy ellagic acid, so even blackberry jams and desserts retain ellagic acid health benefits. Blackberries also contain catechins such as quercetin, which is an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of heart disease and stop the action of histamine for people with allergies.
The astringent leaves of the blackberry contain antiseptic tannins, and chopped and used as tea they're an excellent mouthwash for gum problems and infections like gingivitis, as well as an effective gargle for sore throats. The dried leaves soaked in boiled water are also used as an effective remedy for diarrhea.
Breast and Cervical Cancer
Blackberries have recently been pinpointed as a leading source of compounds thought to produce health benefits for women, due to their high concentrations of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens, are of particular interest because of their roll in prevention of both breast and cervical cancer. Studies now associate blackberries with containing some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens, which act as a natural form of estrogen. Studies in Finland measured eight different berries for their phytoestrogen level, and concluded that blackberries had the highest levels, followed by strawberries.
Colon and Liver Cancer
Human cell studies have shown that components in blackberries capture free radicals and prevent damage to liver and colon cells.
Studies done on human lung cancer cells have shown that blackberry extracts inhibited further growth of the cancer. A rat study demonstrated for the first time that an anthocyanin extract from blackberries (cyaniding-3-glucoside) inhibited tumor promotion and metastasis (the spreading of cancer cells).
Blackberries have been shown to inhibit and reduce the growth rate of esophageal cancer in laboratory rats.
Tips for Using Blackberries
- W. M. Mazur, et al. Phyto-oestrogen content of berries, and plasma concentrations and urinary excretion of enterolactone after a single strawberry-meal in human subjects British Journal of nutrition (2000), 83, 381-387.
- Wang SY, Jiao H. Scavenging capacity of berry crops on superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals and singlet oxygen. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Nov;48(11): 5677-84.
- Guerra MC, Galvano F, Bonsi L, Speroni E, Costa S, Renzulli C, Cervellati R. Cyanidin-3-O-betaglucopyranoside, a natural free-radical scavenger against aflatoxin B1- and ochratoxin A-induced cell damage in a human hepatoma cell line and a human colonic adenocarcinoma cell line. Br J Nutr. 2005 Aug;94 (2):211-20.
- Feng R, Bowman LL, Lu Y, Leonard SS, Shi X, Jiang BH, Castranova V, Vallyathan V, Ding M. Blackberry extracts inhibit activation protein 1 activation and cell transformation by perturbing mitogenic signaling pathway. Nutr cancer. 2004; 50(1):80-9.
- Ding M et al. Cyanidin-3-glucoside, a natural product derived from blackberry, exhibits chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity. J Biol Chem. 2006 Jun 23;281(25):17359-68.
- Stoner GD, Chen T, Kresty LA, Aziz RM, Reinemann T, Nines R. Protection against esophageal cancer in rodents with lyophilized berries: potential mechanisms. Nutr cancer. 2006;54(1):33-46.