Health Benefits Of Blueberries, Blackberries & Raspberries: Nutrition Facts & Side Effects
In this article, we shall take a look at the health benefits and possible side effects of eating blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, as well as getting to know about their nutritional makeup.
What are blueberries?
The blueberry fruit is a sweet edible berry that is aboriginal to North America. This berry is a member of a plant family that also includes cranberry and bilberries.
Scientifically, blueberries are referred to as Vaccinium corymbosum, and are characterized by their indigo (deep blue) flesh and star-shaped crown. Blueberries are perennial plants, meaning they last for three seasons or more.
Nutritional facts about blueberries
Blueberries contain many nutritional compounds. To put this in perspective, blueberry is regarded as the
“king of foods” in terms of antioxidant content. They are loaded with antioxidants more than any other food/fruit.
These berries are also low in fat and calories with high fiber content. A significant part of a blackberry is composed of water. Blueberries contain vitamins C, E, K, and the B vitamins. They also contain minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, and phosphorus.
The indigo color of blueberries is due to the presence of anthocyanin, an antioxidant with many health benefits.
Health benefits of blueberries
Based on scientific research and anecdotal reports, the following are some of the health benefits of using blueberries.
- Rich source of antioxidants:
Blueberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants in any known food. Examples of these antioxidants are anthocyanins that have anti-cancer properties, and phenolic acids that are responsible for most of the medicinal properties of the fruit.
- Anti-inflammatory food
Chromic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can be prevented by eating anti-inflammatory foods. Blueberry has anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to the many antioxidants it contains.
- For juvenile arthritis
Although there is insufficient evidence backing this claim, giving your child blueberry juice can help in the treatment of arthritis in children.
- Promotes weight loss
Blueberries are high in fiber and thus, help in curbing appetite as well as in aiding digestion. By eating fiber-rich foods, overweight persons can effectively control food cravings and lose the extra weight easily.
- Treatment of urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infection is caused by the inflammatory actions of bacteria in the urinary tract. The antibacterial properties of blueberries come into play here as the pathogens are combated.
- For brain health
Cognitive function can be improved by feeding the body with foods rich in antioxidants; and blueberry is a master at this. The effects of age-related brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s can be reduced by introducing this fruit in the diet. According to studies, blueberries can also help in the repair of damaged brain cells.
- May improve vision
The antioxidants in blueberries may also be beneficial to eye health. The effects of aging on the eyes like macular degeneration can lead to different eye problems including blindness. By consuming blueberries and other foods high in antioxidants, the effects of aging on the eyes can be reduced.
- Prevention of cancer
Blueberry is the “king of antioxidant foods” as previously stated. This means that they are loaded with antioxidants including flavonoids and gallic acid that have anti-cancer properties. Thus, the consumption of blueberries can help in reducing the risk of developing some kinds of cancer.
What are blackberries?
Blackberries are a part of the Rosaceae family. The botanical name for the blackberry fruit is Rubus fruticosus. This type of berries has been used since the 18th century in Greece. During this time, blackberries were not just used as food; they were also cultivated for their therapeutic benefits. Even more, it is not only the fruit that has medicinal properties; the bark, roots, and leaves of the blackberry tree also possess healing potentials.
Nutritional facts about blackberries
Blackberries are rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants. These berries are packed with vitamins and minerals that are important for general health.
A 100-gram serving of raw blackberries contains 9.61 grams of carbs, 0.49 grams of fat, 1.39 grams of protein, 4.88 grams of sugars, 20 mg of magnesium, 29 mg of calcium, 0.62 mg of Iron, 162 mg of potassium, 22 mg of phosphorus, and 1 mg of sodium. Other vitamins and minerals in blackberries include vitamins A, C and K, B vitamins, and zinc.
Health benefits of blackberries
The following are some of the many health benefits of eating blackberries:
- Rich in antioxidants: Like most other fruits, and other berries, blackberries are loaded with potent antioxidants like phenolic acids and flavonoids. These antioxidants and others are beneficial to general health as they help to keep the body free from disease.
- Boosts the body’s defense system: Eating blackberries can help in enhancing the body’s immunity against infections. This is because the fruit contains essential vitamins and minerals that protect the body.
- Good for the brain: According to a study reported in Nutritional Neuroscience, science journal, eating blackberries can help to improve cognitive function. The brain-boosting properties of blackberries are believed to be as a result of the polyphenols in the fruit. This can be beneficial to aging people who have a risk of developing brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
- For bone health: The presence of vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium in blackberries is helpful in keeping healthy bones. While magnesium and vitamin K stimulate the absorption of calcium in the body, calcium itself, works by strengthening the bones.
- Promotes weight loss: Due to their high fiber content and low fat content, blackberries are a healthy choice for anyone on a weight-reduction diet. Normal weight people benefit this way as their weight is maintained while overweight people effectively lose the extra weight.
- Improves proper blood clotting: Vitamin K has blood-thinning properties that help in dissolving coagulated blood in the body. This means that eating more blackberries can help in treating abnormal blood clotting.
- Aids in digestion: Since blackberries are rich in dietary fiber, it means then, that digestion problems like constipation and indigestion can be prevented.
- For oral health: A 2012 study found that blackberries contain antimicrobial properties that make the fruit effective in combating pathogens in the mouth. Another study, this time conducted by the Oregon State University, showed that the presence of some antioxidants such as ellagic acid and gallic acid can help in keeping the mouth free from the actions of bacteria and even prevent oral cancer.
- Good for the heart: Blackberries are rich in many antioxidants and minerals like magnesium that help in protecting the heart from diseases. For instance, magnesium has been linked with improved blood circulation and lowering high blood pressure that help in maintaining a healthy heart.
- For prevention of cancer: Blackberries contain anthocyanins and flavonoids, which are antioxidants with cancer-fighting capabilities. As a result, eating blackberries can help in the prevention of certain forms of cancer such as colon, oral, and lung cancers.
What are raspberries?
Like its close relative blackberry, raspberries also belong to the Rosaceae family. This fruit is characterized by its color, sweet taste, and small size – they are smaller than blackberries.
According to historic information, raspberries are said to have originated in Asia before they were transported to other parts of the world.
There are two major varieties of raspberries: boysenberries and loganberries. Raspberries can be found in different colors including yellow, white, pink, purple, and black.
Nutritional facts about raspberries
Raspberries are not just known for their sweet taste and soft skin; they also possess many important vitamins and minerals.
One cup of fresh raspberries provides 64 calories in the form of 14.7 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of dietary fiber, 1.5 grams of protein, and trace amounts of fat with no cholesterol.
These berries are good sources of minerals like copper, iron, manganese; vitamins such as vitamin C, and the B vitamins. Antioxidants present in raspberries include but are not limited to ellagic acid, kaempferol, salicylic acid, anthocyanins, cyaniding, and catechins.
Health benefits of raspberries
Some of the health benefits of eating raspberries are:
- Raspberries are refreshing: More than half of the content of raspberries is water. This makes eating the fruit refreshing. Many health problems are caused by dehydration in the body; thus, keeping the body hydrated by chomping on raspberries will easily solve the problem.
- Lowers cholesterol levels: Raspberries contain chemical compounds that help to break down excess cholesterols in the body. Moreover, raspberries do not contain any cholesterol; so you are free from adding any while also reducing the bad ones in the body. High cholesterol levels are harmful to the body as they can lead to health conditions like stroke.
- Detoxification: Raspberries are alkaline in nature; toxins inside the body are ineffective in an alkaline environment. This means that harmful chemical substances are rendered ineffective and the body functions better.
- Good for the heart: By helping to lower the cholesterol levels in the body, eating raspberries is therefore, good for the heart. Besides, the presence of potassium in this delightful fruit means that the blood pressure levels are also kept in check. So, regular consumption of raspberries is a healthy way of avoiding heart problems.
- Good for the liver: Raspberry contains several B vitamins including vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) that stimulates a proper functioning of the liver. The amount of this vitamin in raspberry is significant making it a liver-friendly food.
- Treatment of flu and colds: Vitamin C found in raspberries is helpful in protecting the body against infections such as flu. People who are down with the condition can also benefit from eating the berries.
- Prevention of diabetes: Raspberries, like most other berries, have a low glycemic index (GI). Eating low GI foods is recommended for individuals with a risk of diabetes.
- Combats oxidative stress: Oxidative stress is caused by the actions of free radicals in the body. The antioxidants present in raspberry are helpful in combating oxidative stress which can lead to various health problems.
For glowing skin: The presence of vitamin C in raspberry also plays a role in maintaining a youthful skin. Vitamin is essential for skin health because it aids in the production of collagen, which is important for a healthy and glowing skin.
Side effects of blueberries
- Risk of excessive bleeding: While blueberries contain a moderate amount of vitamin K, it is generally advised that persons on blood-thinning medications should avoid foods that can cause a spike in the vitamin K levels in their bodies. This is because vitamin K helps in controlling blood clotting and an excess can lead to an inability of the blood to form clots properly causing excessive bleeding.
- Allergic reaction: Blueberries are rich in salicylic acid – the major component of aspirin. Thus, persons who have a sensitivity to salicylates are advised to only eat small amounts of the fruit to prevent the risk of allergic reactions. In addition, individuals who are allergic to stone fruits such as plums and apricots may also need to avoid blueberries.
- Risk of hypoglycemia: Eating blueberries can help to lower blood sugar levels; but, overconsumption can lead to a condition of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, especially in diabetics. Thus, it is important that you check your blood sugar levels when eating blueberries.
Side effects of blackberries
- Overconsumption of blackberries should be avoided as it can lead to diarrhea. Besides, blackberries contain a significant amount of tannins which can cause vomiting and nausea in some persons.
- Eating unripe or immature blackberries can result in constipation; thus, it is advised that only ripe ones are to be eaten.
Side effects of raspberries
Although the side effects of raspberry are not yet known, according to research data, it is advised that people who show a sign of sensitivity to the fruit should avoid it.
Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are wonderful fruits with delicious tastes and amazing health benefits. However, like other foods/fruits, moderation needs to be applied when consuming these fruits.
All being said, you will only do yourself more good than harm by adding these fruits to your daily diet.