Blackberries – extra healthy and extra free

Of all foods now recognized as extra-healthy, berries are especially powerful. Here are some of the top reasons why. So grab the kids and some containers and go picking – blackberries are free – the medication in the pharmacy is not.

Brain health, including dementias

Studies show that antioxidants such as the polyphenolic (polly-feen-OLE-ic) compounds in blackberries slow memory loss that comes with aging, reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Motor skills and short term memory are both enhanced when the diet regularly includes blackberries.

The berries also include manganese, which is critical to proper firing of brain synapses. And what’s more, blackberries and extracted compounds from them, via their concentrations of polyphenols (polly-FEEN-alls), slow down degeneration of brain cells.

Munch on a handful a day to boost cognition for optimal mental health.

Heart Health

Flavonols, like the anthocyanins in blackberries, strengthen and guard the heart, while the fruit’s magnesium and fibre help keep blood flowing smoothly. Magnesium works to regulate blood pressure and keep the heart pumping normally. And Vitamin K cleans calcium out of the arteries, preventing hardening. With regular consumption, blackberries can lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack.

Bones, skin, eyes

Blackberries’ calcium supports bone health, while its magnesium facilitates the absorption of both calcium and potassium. Blackberries also provide phosphorus, which regulates calcium and promotes normal cell functioning.

Credit the Vitamin C in blackberries for fighting oxidative damage in the skin, and helping build the collagen that becomes healthy connective tissue. And Vitamin E keeps skin fats healthy and prevents wrinkles. Also, blackberries’ anthocyanin antioxidants fight damage caused by free radicals that may proliferate as a result of overexposure to the sun, poor diet, or environmental toxins. Moreover, they protect against skin afflictions like herpes virus (cold sores).

Blackberries contain the carotenoid lutein (LOO-teen), which provides a protective pigment behind the retina that defends against oxidative damage and high wavelength light radiation. This reduces the risk of macular degeneration, a disease in older people that can lead to blindness. The Vitamin C in the berries also fights macular degeneration as well as cataracts.

Aids Pregnancy and Soothes PMS

The folate in blackberries contributes to optimal growth of cells, while protecting against birth defects, making blackberries a smart snacking choice for most pregnant women.

And once again, the awesome potency of Vitamin K is key: for women with PMS, this fortifier regulates hormone function, helping to reduce pain from cramps. Vitamin K helps to clot blood, thereby reducing excessive menstrual blood flow and accompanying pain.

Blackberries contain a high amount of plant lignans (LIG-nuns), which have been shown to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Cancer fighting

Antioxidant chemicals in blackberries include substances that are increasingly recognized as effective in inhibiting the formation of cancers. Among them are cyanidin 3-glucoside, previously mentioned as a powerful cancer fighter; ellagic acid, lignans, and the flavonoid myricetin (muh-RI-ci-tin). Working together, these chemicals provide strong protections against the disease, including colon, lung, and oesophageal cancers, defending against the growth of malignant cells, and restraining metastasis. The berries have also been associated with prevention of breast, oral, and prostate cancers.