Not only are blackberries tasty and free – if you live near a hedgerow – they also contain nutrients that provide a host of health-giving properties.
Here, leading experts explain how you could benefit.
Blackberries are a rich source of Vitamin C, containing twice as much as blueberries.
‘Vitamin C has many important functions in the body,’ says dietician Ursula Arens.
‘It is vital for our immune systems and for cardiovascular health, helping to lower blood pressure. It also helps to improve the absorption of iron from other foods eaten at the same time, so may reduce the risk of being anaemic.’
‘Blackberries are very high in fibre compared with most other fruits,’ says Arens.
‘A generous handful contains about 8g, twice the amount of fibre found in two Shredded Wheat, counting towards the recommended 25g a day.
‘Fibre is important for your gut to function well, helping to maintain a healthy weight. It also improves health by helping to lower cholesterol.’
They are rich in tannins.
‘When put on the skin, they tighten tissue, helping to constrict blood vessels, lessening minor bleeding,’ says dietician Sarah Wilson, of the Princess Grace Hospital in London.
‘They were used in traditional medicine as a poultice for wounds.’
They contain anthocyanins which are, Arens says: ‘A group of plant pigments thought to have antioxidant properties.’
Some anthocyanins inhibit the growth of tumour cells. They also contain the chemical C3G, which belongs to a group of compounds known as flavonoids, shown to be effective against skin cancer and lung cancer.
Blackberries contain lutein, which protects the eye by forming pigments in the macula, the light sensitive area at the back of the retina.
Lutein helps to prevent eye damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.
Just a handful of blackberries will give you almost half of your recommended daily intake of manganese – making them an excellent source of the mineral.
‘Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, vital for building strong bone structure,’ says Wilson.
They contain folate – also known as Vitamin B9 or folic acid – which plays a vital role in healthy cell division and growth.
Pregnant women are advised to take it to reduce birth defects such as spina bifida.