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While many fruits deliver a wonderful combination of nutrition and flavor, few provide as many impressive health benefits as blackberries.
Sometimes confused with black raspberries, these tasty morsels represent a diverse group of berries from the Rubus species. If you’re struggling to tell the two apart, remember this: when raspberries are picked, the stem remains on the plant and leaves a hollow. With blackberries, the stem stays on the fruit.
Humans have enjoyed blackberries for thousands of years. Preserved remains of the berry were even found in the body of a Danish woman from 2,500 years ago.
Today, we enjoy access to a wide variety of blackberries, including not only wild and domesticated versions, but also varieties categorized as trailing, erect, and semi-erect. Trailing berries typically require a trellis, while erect versions grow vertically.
Many hybrid versions of blackberries exist, such as the loganberry. Some versions are sweeter or tangier than others, but all provide a significant dose of vitamins and antioxidants.
The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals found in blackberries deliver a variety of health benefits. Antioxidants such as anthocyanins hold many anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. They may also combat diabetes and certain kinds of cancer.
Other health benefits of blackberries include:
Improved digestion. Blackberries are an excellent source of insoluble fiber. Fiber plays an important role in the digestive process by increasing the bulk of stools to make them easier to pass. A diet high in fiber can ease constipation, which is the most common gastrointestinal issue in the U.S. Regular bowel movements play a critical role in maintaining colon health.
Blackberries are one of several types of berries believed to have a positive impact on insulin resistance and triglyceride levels. As such, researchers view blackberries as beneficial for diabetes management, especially if eaten fresh or frozen.
Reduced Risk of Obesity
Research suggests that an increased intake of blackberries may address obesity by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping the body burn fat more effectively.
Blackberries are a great source of antioxidants. These include anthocyanins, which are responsible for the rich colors in several red, purple, and blue foods.
The standard blackberry season differs between locations. In general, however, US blackberries ripen between June and August. At the supermarket, fresh blackberries are most plentiful between May and September.
Blackberries can be found in most grocery stores and farmer's markets. Some farms allow visitors to pick their own blackberries and pay for them by the pound.
When picking blackberries, look for plump, firm berries with a deep black color. Be wary of thorns. If you plan on growing your own blackberries, consider investing in one of the many thornless varieties currently available.