Scorching heat is parching fruits and veggies on the stem and vine, particularly those that must fend for themselves.
Oven-like air is one of the few inhibitors of Oregon’s “wild” blackberries. Actually invasive species, save one, blackberries at least offer up a sweet reward for those intrepid enough to brave the brambles. The most tenacious tangles found close to streams and creeks should harbor juicy berries for the next few weeks.
The payoff isn’t just inimitable flavor, usually obtained without spending a penny. Blackberries also are nutritional powerhouses, acknowledged in this month’s issue of Oregon Healthy Living magazine.
The article highlighted blackberries’ fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and potential to prevent disease. Here are some more specifics courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.
1. High in antioxidants — Blackberries have the highest antioxidant content per serving size (1 cup), ranking No. 1. “The antioxidants, their role is to protect the cell from free radicals,” says Erica Owen, registered dietitian, manager, nutrition & weight management University of Michigan Health & Well-Being Services. “So it puts an extra protective coating on our cells so they stay healthy.”
2. Low in calories — One cup of blackberries has about 62 calories.
3. Brain food — An American Journal of Nutrition 2014 study shows that eating berries may help in protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as enhancing cognitive function.
4. Colorful choice — Deep, dark color comes from a flavonoid called anthocyanin (an-tho-cy-a-nin), the pigment that gives blackberries their deep purple-blackish color. These pigments are thought to play a role in helping to prevent diseases like certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.
5. Energy booster — Blackberries contain five B vitamins. “So you eat carbohydrates, proteins and fats and at some point they have to get into the body’s bloodstream to be used as energy,” says Owen. “B vitamins help that process by changing carbohydrates, proteins and fats into usable energy.”
6. Full of fiber — Blackberries are a winner in the soluble (nuts, seeds and beans) and insoluble (whole grains, bran and vegetables) fiber camp. Soluble helps slow digestion and insoluble adds bulk and helps food pass through the intestines quicker. One cup of fresh raw blackberries has about 8 grams of fiber.
7. Heart healthy — There is a general association with eating fruits in general and lower risk of cardiovascular health. But it’s the antioxidants found in the darker fruits and vegetables that further promote cardiovascular health.
8. Hypertension prevention — The anthocyanins found in blackberries are thought to help lower blood pressure.
9. Oral health help — Blackberries contain tannins — an astringent — so they can help with oral health. “It breaks stuff down but also treat any inflammation you have in your gums,” says Owen.
10. Vitamin value — Like many fruits, blackberries contain a host of vitamins, especially vitamins A and C. Consuming foods high in vitamin C, some studies have shown, may help keep your skin younger looking with fewer wrinkles. Vitamin C also helps decrease inflammation.
Sources: Free Press research, University of Michigan Health & Well-Being Services, American Journal of Nutrition.