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Blackberries

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The blackberry is commonly called a bramble in eastern U.S. and Europe. In reality the the blackberry is not a berry at all, but a fruit that is made up of numerous drupelets.

Blackberries are native to Asia, Europe, North and South America and southeastern Australia. They have been used in Europe for hundreds of years for eating and for medicinal purposes as well as for hedges to keep out intruders.

Blackberries were used by the Greeks as a remedy for Gout while the Romans made blackberry tea with the leaves to cure various illnesses.


Contents

[edit] Nutritional Information

Blackberries are full of fibre and rich in iron and vitamins. 100 gms of blackberries contain 3.1 g of fibre, 34 g of folate and 2.4 mg of Vitamin E.

[edit] Benefits of blackberries

Blackberries are full of antioxidants, including anthocyanin pigments, which give it the purplish-black color. Antioxidants play an important role in forestalling the ageing process. Over a period of time the body deteriorates due to the effects of oxidation. Antioxidants fight the process of ageing by fighting off old age related diseases. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which can damage DNA molecules and lead to cancer. They also protect against cardiovascular disease, fight sun damage to skin and thwart the effects of Alzheimer's.

The other antioxidants found in blackberries are vitamins C and E, and ellagic acid. These antioxidants provide protection against cancer and chronic disease. Fortunately ellagic acid does not get destroyed by ellagic acid, so even blackberry jams and desserts retain ellagic acid health benefits. Blackberries are also a natural source of salicylate, which is one of the substances found in aspirin. While the benefits are yet to be explored it is wise for aspirin-sensitive individuals to exercise caution while consuming blackberries. Blackberries are also a valuable source of the soluble fiber, pectin.

Blackberries have a high concentration of phytoestrogens present in them and are considered to be of considerable benefit to women. Phytoestrogens are believed to play an important role in the prevention of breast and cervical cancer. Scientists believe that blackberries may contain some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens.

Blackberries have a high tannin content which makes them natural astringents. Research has shown that tannins help to tighten tissue, lesson minor bleeding, and possibly alleviate diarrhea and intestinal inflammation. Blackberries are also recommended for mild infections such as sore throats and mouth irritations. Their rich tannin content makes them useful for alleviating hemorrhoids. Some varieties of blackberries are also associated with anti-tumor properties. Blackberries, taken in various forms, are found effective in the treatment of diarrhea, for stomachs and throat infections as well as in the treatment of external wounds.

[edit] Buying and storing

Always choose blackberries that are plump and firm and free of any blemishes. Blackberries should be a shiny black and not a dull red. Ripe blackberries will have a rich aroma.

Since blackberries perish more easily than other berries, refrigerate them as soon as possible. Blackberries should not be frozen as the fruit gets damaged by freezing. If it becomes necessary to freeze them for later use, they can be in jellies, jams and smoothies or even desserts. Blackberries should not be washed until needed. Since they do not last for very long even in the refrigerator, consume them as soon as possible after purchase.

To prevent blackberries from sticking to each other when frozen,place them a little apart on a tray , and then place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to a sealable plastic bag.

[edit] How to Eat

Like most other fruit, blackberries are best eaten fresh. However, blackberries can also be used in cakes, cheesecakes, pies, crumbles, trifles, tarts, tortes, ice creams and pancakes as well as for making jams, jellies and preserves.

[edit] Useful websites:

  • Health24
  • Connecting Berry Health Benefit Researchers
  • Delicious Fresh Berries
  • Vitabit.com