Blackberries evoke fond memories for me. When I was a little girl, my father’s business had a small garden with blackberry bushes. My two brothers and I looked forward to visiting him there so we could enjoy blackberries at their best, right off the thorny branches.
Many people have fun memories of “berrying” with their friends and family this time of year, when blackberries are in season. They are a rich source of bone-building nutrients, most of which are Foundation Supplements, and they also offer important overall health benefits.
Today we’ll take an in-depth look at the nutritional value of blackberries, and to give you some ideas for taking advantage of their bone health benefits, I share with you a delicious 100% alkalizing recipe for a decadent, bone-smart treat.
The Wonderful, Widespread Blackberry
Few fruit plants rival the blackberry in its widespread habitat. It grows on practically every continent except Antarctica, and is known by various names, such as black raspberry, marionberry, mulberry, and brambleberry. It was even called goutberry in ancient Greece and in Europe up through the 18th century, because it was considered a successful treatment for this painful condition.
Blackberries have been used as medicine since antiquity – medicinal syrup was made from blackberry juice mixed with honey. I can’t think of a more pleasant-tasting remedy!
The leaves of blackberry plants are also used medicinally, brewed into a tea to ease diarrhea, relieve throat and mouth inflammation, and even as a uterine tonic.
Early settlers to Europe and North America found the abundant tangle of wild blackberry bushes a bit of a nuisance as they tried to clear land for farming. The thorns added to the significant challenge in clearing these plants, which have only become more abundant over the years.
Their thick and thorny nature makes them excellent for boundary hedges; planted several bushes deep, they are difficult for any animal or person to get through.
Blackberries belong to the same genus as raspberries, Rubus, and they are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae). The white, five-petaled blooms resemble wild rose blossoms, and are very fragrant. The beautiful, shiny-black berries that follow look like tiny clusters of grapes.
Nutritional Profile Of Blackberries
The blackberry is a delicious source of bone-smart minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
1. Magnesium, manganese, potassium, and copper
Amazingly, blackberries contain all four of these bone-building minerals. One cup of raw blackberries contains .238mg of copper, .76 of zinc, 29mg of magnesium, and 42mg of calcium. All of these are Foundation Supplements on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, making blackberries an excellent bone-builder.
That same cup of raw blackberries also contains 233mg of potassium, so they are an excellent way to offset and balance sodium consumption.
A cup of these delicious fruits provides healthful vitamins as well, especially Vitamin A (308IU), folate (36mcg), and Vitamin C (30.2mg). They also contain 28.5mcg of Vitamin K, 36mg of folate, and Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6. All of these are Foundation Supplements as well (except for Vitamin A), once again placing blackberries firmly in the category of bone-building foods.
3. Antioxidant Polyphenols
This is where blackberries really shine. These richly-pigmented berries are among the top antioxidant-containing foods. The following are the most abundant antioxidants contained in blackberries:
- Flavonoids, a relatively broad class of polyphenols (plant chemicals) that, along with carotenes, give blackberries their deep purple color. This class of water-soluble molecules includes subgroups of polyphenols, such as flavonols, anthocyanins, and isoflavonoids.
- Ellagic acid is an anti-inflammatory polyphenol that is also found in blackberries’ close cousin, raspberries. In plants, ellagic acid is bound to a sugar molecule, making its occurrence in the form of ellagitannin. Ellagic acid has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, binding to molecules that cause cancer and inactivating them. As far as bone health, ellagic acid helps restore healthy bone remodeling and rejuvenates bone due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Cyanidin is a potent inhibitor of osteoclasts (cells that tear down bone) and promoter of osteoblasts (cells that build bone), playing in to the body’s natural bone remodeling process and helping to keep it balanced. Research shows that cyanidin actually plays a part in cellular differentiation, influencing which stem cells will become bone-builders.
Cyanidins are richly pigmented, and are present in red and purple foods like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. They are also anti-inflammatory and act as very strong antioxidants in the body, even stronger than resveratrol and Vitamins E and C. Strong antioxidants are those that are very active and high ability to scavenge for free radicals.
- Anthocyanins are red-blue flavonoids that, among other things, protect against high blood pressure, which is an important aspect of bone health your doctor probably never mentioned. High blood pressure affects all body systems. The kidneys are particularly susceptible to damage in the presence of high blood pressure, rendering them less effective at removing bone-damaging toxins.
Anthocyanins also help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, another seldom-mentioned aspect of bone health.
Antioxidants are important for bone health not only because they prevent the oxidative damage that harms bones, but also because antioxidants actually boost osteoblast production. And that’s not all…
Study: Blackberries Improve Balance, Coordination, And Memory!
A fascinating study on rats who were fed a 2% blackberry-supplemented diet resulted in an improvement of age-related issues in behavioral and neuronal function.
The researchers note that:
“The results showed that the blackberry diet improved motor performance on three tasks which rely on balance and co-ordination: the accelerating rotarod, wire suspension, and the small plank walk. Results for the Morris water maze showed that the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater working, or short-term, memory performance than the control rats.”1
This study is particularly interesting because it also confirms similar data observed in study subjects who were fed other berries containing the same type of antioxidants.
Since heat causes a reduction in polyphenol content, the following is a no-bake recipe, so you can enjoy blackberries at their healthiest. While blackberries are not on the EPA’s “dirty dozen” list, it’s still best to obtain organic blackberries whenever possible. In addition, blackberries contain small amounts of oxalates, so if you’ve suffered from kidney stones in the past, check with your doctor or urologist before increasing your blackberry intake.
Bone-Smart Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes
These cold, creamy cheesecakes make a great bone-healthy alternative to sugary frozen treats. You won’t believe they’re 100% alkalizing!
Makes 12 cakes
For the crust:
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (preferably alcohol-free)
For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups bone healthy cream cheese
- 1/4 cup raw blackberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon stevia (adjust to taste)
- 1/3 cup raw honey
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
For the crust:
- Add dates and vanilla to blender or food processor, and blend until a ball forms. Remove from blender and set aside.
- Place almonds in blender or food processor and process until they form a powder. Add the dates back in and blend until it forms a dough.
- Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or use paper liners. (If you use liners, leave tabs for easy removal once frozen.)
- Press about 1 tablespoon of crust into each muffin cup and flatten it with a spoon. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes or until firm.
For the filling:
- In a bowl, mix the stevia with the yogurt until well blended.
- Place all filling ingredients in a blender or food processor, including the stevia and yogurt, and blend until smooth.
- Fill muffin tins evenly on top of crust. Cover as tightly as possible and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.
- Once frozen, carefully remove from muffin tin and store in freezer. Best enjoyed slightly thawed.
It’s Easy To Build Your Bones With Proper Nutrition And Delicious Recipes!
You may be have been surprised to learn that a recipe for something as decadent-sounding as blackberry cheesecakes can help you build your bones. You see, a bone-healthy nutritional plan doesn’t have to be full of bland and boring foods. The fact is, foods can be healthful and delicious.
And in Bone Appétit, the Save Our Bones recipe book, you’ll find over 200 appetizing bone-smart dishes. Whether you’re looking for a quick soup on a chilly night, a full meal for visiting family, or a delightful dessert for two, you’ll find all that and more in Bone Appétit.
Some of the breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert recipes can be prepared in less than 20 minutes, as shown in the Quick Picks section at the end of each chapter.
And Bone Appétit includes a 30 Day Meal Planner to help you plan your time and your budget around bone-smart meals. Also included are Blender Magic, a recipe collection of bone-building smoothies, and Calcilicious, another recipe collection of calcium-rich foods and dishes.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
I hope you will join me and come alongside the vibrant Saver community, embracing food as the best “prescription” for stronger, healthier bones!
Till next time,
1 Shukitt-Hale B., et al. “Effects of blackberries on motor and cognitive function in aged rats.” Nutr Neurosci. 2009 Jun;12(3):135-40. doi: 10.1179/147683009X423292. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19356316