Fruit for your health

Susan Selasky

Fruits such as blackberries are considered a super food, lauded for their superior nutritional benefits that can help prevent certain diseases. Here’s why:

Antioxidants: Blackberries have the highest antioxidant content per serving size (1 cup), ranking No. 1. “The antioxidants, their role is to protect the cell from free radicals,” says Erica Owen, registered dietitian, manager, nutrition & weight management University of Michigan Health & Well-Being Services. “So it puts an extra protective coating on our cells so they stay healthy.”

Calories: One cup of blackberries has about 62 calories.

Cognitive conditions: An American Journal of Nutrition 2014 study shows that eating berries may help in protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as enhancing cognitive function.

Color: Its dark color comes from a flavonoid called anthocyanin (an-tho-cy-a-nin), the pigment that gives blackberries their deep purple-blackish color. These pigments are thought to play a role in helping to prevent diseases such as certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Energy: Blackberries contain five B vitamins. “So you eat carbohydrates, proteins and fats and at some point they have to get into the body’s bloodstream to be used as energy,” says Owen. “B vitamins help that process by changing carbohydrates, proteins and fats into usable energy.”

Fiber: Blackberries are a winner in the soluble (nuts, seeds and beans) and insoluble (whole grains, bran and vegetables) fiber camp. Soluble helps slow digestion and insoluble adds bulk and helps food pass through the intestines quicker. One cup of fresh raw blackberries has about 8 grams of fiber.

Heart health: There is a general association with eating fruits — not only blackberries — and lower risk of cardiovascular health. But it’s the antioxidants found in the darker fruits and vegetables that further promote cardiovascular health.

Hypertension: The anthocyanins found in blackberries are thought to help lower blood pressure.

Oral health: Blackberries contain tannins — an astringent — so they can help with oral health. “It breaks stuff down but also treat any inflammation you have in your gums,” says Owen.

Vitamins: Like many fruits, blackberries contain a host of vitamins, especially vitamins A and C. Consuming foods high in vitamin C, some studies have shown, may help keep your skin younger looking with fewer wrinkles.

Vitamin C also helps decrease inflammation.

Sources: Free Press research, University of Michigan Health & Well-Being Services, American Journal of Nutrition.