By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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Blackberry (Rubus sp.) fruit contains high levels of anthocyanins and other phenolic compounds, mainly flavonols and ellagitannins, which contribute to its high antioxidant capacity and other biological activities. Epidemiological and clinical studies suggest that consumption of anthocyanins and other flavonoids found in most fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, degenerative conditions, and various types of cancer (1).
Blackberries are notable for their high nutritional contents of dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, and the essential mineral manganese. The root contains saponins and tannins, whereas leaf contains fruits acid, flavonoids, and tannins. Fruits are gathered (as of most other blackberries) in the wild for jam, syrups, wine, and liqueur (2).
- Blackberries are known for their anticancer properties. As they contain antioxidants, they are known to destroy the free radicals that harm cells and can lead to cancer. They also help protect and strengthen the immunity, which lowers the risk of cancer. They are especially helpful when it comes to reducing the risk of oesophageal, cervical, and breast cancer (3).
- Blackberry leaves have been traditionally used in herbal medicine as an antimicrobial agent and for their healthful antioxidant properties (4).
- Blackberry has been used in Europe to treat diabetes. An extract of the leaves showed a hypoglycaemic effect (5).
- Blackberry leaves and roots are a long-standing home remedy for anaemia, regulates menses, diarrhoea, and dysentery. A standard infusion made, which can also be applied externally as a lotion, reported to cure psoriasis and scaly conditions of the skin (6).
- Blackberries are also used to make wine, brandy, and flavour liqueurs and cordials (6).
- They are used to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers, and gum inflammations. A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash (7).
Traditional Uses: (8)
- Because the plant is strongly astringent, infusions are used to relieve diarrhoea.
- As a mouthwash, it is used to strengthen spongy gums and ease mouth ulcers. The berries make a pleasant gargle for swallowing.
- Poultices or compresses are used externally on wounds and bruises.
- Decoctions are used to relieve diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. The tannins in the herb not only tighten tissue but also help to control minor bleeding.
Selection and Use:
- Choose berries that are firm, plump, shiny, and dark-coloured. Avoid berries that are bruised or leaking and packages that contain mouldy berries.
- Rinse blackberries thoroughly just before preparing. Discard any shrivelled or mouldy berries. Blackberries are good for both cooking and eating raw.
- You can also use these versatile fruits in baked goods, add them to fruit or vegetable salads or turn them into jellies or sauces.
- Mix blackberries with apples, kiwi and strawberries to make a delicious fruit salsa you can eat with chips, use to top ice cream or other desserts or use as a condiment with meat or seafood.