They grow like weeds in the brushy, wooded areas here in Oklahoma. You’ll see them along the fences and in the underbrush, loaded with sweet, wild fruit. Blackberries grow wild and are free for the picking. If you aren’t in an area where blackberries grow wild, or if you don’t want to brave the heat, thorns, and ticks to get them, you can find them now in the produce section of the grocery store. They taste sweet and delicious, but there are more reasons than the flavor to eat them. They are a healthy food that can help you get you farther along on your road to health and true beauty — beyond gorgeous.
Cancer prevention: They pack a powerful protective punch against cancer, with four particular ingredients in their makeup. One is the anthocyanins, which give them their purple color (and stain your fingers and mouth when you are picking them.) Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants which have been shown to reduce inflammation. They do their antioxidant work of destroying free radicals and preventing the harm they do to cells, which leads to cancer. One cup of berries also contain half of the daily recommended servings of the antioxidant vitamin C, which protects the immune system and may prevent some kinds of cancer. They also contain ellagic acid, which research shows has anti-cancer properties. Studies show that ellagic acid has impressive possibilities in preventing esophageal cancer. The polyphenols they contain in high levels also help prevent cancer.
Healthy heart: Those same extremely high levels of antioxidants contribute to a healthy heart. They fight off the free radicals that damage cells and lead to heart damage. One cup of blackberries also contains more than thirty percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber, promoting healthy digestion and reducing the risk of heart disease. In fact, they are among the top fiber content plants of the world.
Healthy skin: Blackberries protect your skin from damage from the sun. The ellagic acid that helps prevent cancer also helps repair skin with sun damage. The mass amount of vitamin C helps heals wounds and may even lessen the appearance of wrinkles, if the findings of several studies are borne out. Studies show that cyanidin-3-glucoside, another compound found in blackberries, prevents skin cancer by inhibiting tumors from growing and spreading.
Eye health: All that vitamin C may reduce the chances of macular degeneration, a condition which causes vision to deteriorate and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.
Women’s Health: Phytoestrogens, naturally occurring plant estrogens, may help relieve the common symptoms of PMS like bloating, food cravings, and irritability. Blackberries are rich in phytoestrogens.
Good digestion: They have more than 30% of the daily recommended amount of fiber, which speeds your digestion along.
Blood sugar regulation: All that fiber also keeps your food from quickly digesting and turning into sugar in your bloodstream. You don’t have a spike in your blood sugar and a corresponding insulin dump. Remember, insulin is the hormone that tells your body to store up fat, so you don’t want to go there!
Strong bones: Blackberries are a good source of vitamin K — 36% of the daily recommended amount. This vitamin is important for clotting of blood and for absorption of calcium, which helps build good bones.
That’s a lot of health benefits in a few little berries! They are another gift from God, who already knows exactly what we need, and has it all wrapped up for us in a sweet little package.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown