I was lucky enough to get to spend my Saturday touring houses in Denver. We have some friends who are casually looking at houses, and her parents came into town to help them out. Since touring houses (especially old houses, like the ones we have in the beautiful Denver neighborhoods) is one of my absolute favorite pastimes, I was in heaven! Not to mention my friend’s mother is an architect and her insight into how the space was used in each house was so interesting to hear.
We were so engaged in “house talk” that she threw me for a loop when she told me she had a question about blackberries (the fruit, not the phone). But it was a great question: are blackberries as good for us as blueberries? She loves blackberries, so was hoping for a favorable answer.
I didn’t have an exact answer on the spot, but I had a hunch. And my hunch was that they were both really good for us, but that blueberries just get more hype because they may have a bit more antioxidants and are a little bit less expensive and easier to come by. If you’ve ever bought fresh or frozen berries, you know that the blueberries or strawberries are usually a better bargain than the blackberries or raspberries. Whenever I buy fresh blackberries it’s a treat, because they are expensive. But they happen to be Ed’s favorite fruit, so I try to get them whenever they look too good to pass up.
And blueberries do get a lot of hype. They’re linked to lower cholesterol, prevention of heart disease, and cancer prevention. They are packed with antioxidants and we read about them everywhere. But for some reason, blackberries aren’t quite so popular.
Well, when I got home that evening I did some research on blueberries and blackberries. I wanted to see if my hunch was right. And guess what I found? Blueberries do have more antioxidants than blackberries, but not by much. Blackberries are still in the top three for antioxidant-rich fruits, behind only blueberries and cranberries. But this was particularly exciting: a recent study found that blackberries are the healthiest berry of all in terms of disease fighting and prevention. They are (get ready) a big 40% more potent than other antioxidant-rich foods when it comes to fighting disease. This is because of a certain substance they contain. In one study, this certain substance in blackberries was applied to lymphoma and leukemia cells and half of the cancer cells died within 18 hours. And when they increased the amount of substance they applied, all of the cancer cells died. (Berry in Black Makes A Comeback, Natural Health on the Web)
One cup of blueberries has about a third of our daily vitamin C requirement, as well as smaller amounts of manganese, fiber and vitamin E. They are the #1 fruit for antioxidants, and protect the cells involved in things like cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, ulcers, heart disease and cancer. They also improve the strength of our capillaries, which allows for better blood flow. Blueberries support brain health and are great for people who want to prevent brain diseases associated with aging, like Alzheimers. However, they also have a high amount of oxalates. Oxalates are natural substances found in certain plants or animals, and can cause health problems and deplete nutrients. I won’t go into detail today – maybe I’ll write about them later this week though because they are important to be aware of.
One cup of blackberries has over half of our recommended daily value of vitamin C – that’s more than we’ll find in blueberries. The antioxidants in blackberries help with things like skin protection, healthy digestive tract, reducing inflammation, and destroying cells associated with cancer and heart disease. The phytoestrogens in blackberries can help with things like hot flashes, bloating, immunity, heart health and brain health. Blackberries also contain large amounts of fiber and vitamin K, as well as some folate, manganese, copper, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.
So I guess the verdict is this: both blackberries and blueberries have major health benefits and are super foods that can protect against disease. And on top of it all, they taste so good! So take your pick – or, do both. I think after all this research I am going to start incorporating more blackberries into our diet. This will give us the extra health benefits not found in blueberries, and it will also make Ed very happy. And to my friend’s mother who asked this great question, thank you! And, you may continue eating all the blackberries you want because they are so good for you!
All this berry talk makes me think about my healthy berry tart… it’s springtime now so maybe I’ll make it this week! Check back here for a recipe…