Blackberries are a hallmark of summer. Throughout the warmer months, you can find bushels at the farmer's market. But these all-star berries can (and should!) be enjoyed year-round—just look for them in your grocer's freezer aisle. Your body will thank you, because the nutritional value of blackberries is pretty darn impressive. Here are five health benefits you can expect, plus some simple ways to incorporate blackberries—fresh and frozen—into your diet.
Blackberries are high in fiber
One cup of fresh berries (or 1¼ cups frozen) provides about 60 calories, along with nearly 8 grams of fiber. That’s about a third of the amount of fiber you should aim to eat in a day. All that fiber will help increase satiety, curb cholesterol, support weight loss, and regulate blood sugar and insulin levels (more on that below). It will also boost your digestive health: Blackberries are prebiotics, which means they feed the friendly bacteria in your gut that have been tied to immunity, mood, and anti-inflammatory effects.
They're also rich in vitamin C
You'll get about half of the recommended daily target for vitamin C in a cup of raw blackberries. In addition to supporting immunity and healthy skin, this potent antioxidant is needed for DNA repair, and the production of collagen and serotonin (the neurotransmitter that helps promote happiness and sleep).
Blackberries support bone health
A one-cup portion of raw blackberries packs over a third of the daily mark for vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, and is essential for your bones. Vitamin K is required for bone formation, and several studies have shown that a shortfall is linked to increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis. The manganese in blackberries (you'll get half the daily advised intake in one cup) also supports bone health, as well as collagen production for healthy skin and joints.
They help control blood sugar
Blackberries rank low on the glycemic index at 25. (A high ranking is 55 or greater.) They’re also one of the lowest sugar fruits, with just 7 grams per cup fresh (compared to 16 grams in a cup of fresh pineapple chunks). The low sugar content combined with the high fiber content makes them an excellent option for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels.
And protect your brain, too
The antioxidants in berries, including blackberries, have been shown to help reduce brain inflammation, and change the way neurons communicate. These outcomes help to fend off age-related memory loss, protect motor coordination, and ward off cognitive decline.
How to eat more blackberries
You can add fresh blackberries to anything from oatmeal or overnight oats to yogurt, garden salads, and whole grain side dishes. They also make a yummy topping for desserts, like chocolate avocado pudding. You can add slightly mashed berries to drinking water, or puree them with a little fresh ginger root and honey to make a simple sauce.
Got a bag of frozen berries? You can whip them into smoothies, of course, or thaw and use them as you would use fresh berries. For a quick and delicious dessert, sauté frozen blackberries in a sauce pan over low heat, along with a little fresh grated ginger and maple syrup. Top the warm berries with a crumble made from rolled oats mixed with almond butter and ground cinnamon.
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Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.