I walk through a nearby meadow and delight in the black raspberries growing along the paths. My fingers are stained deep red, evidence to the juicy fruits I consume as I meander along. These purple/blue pigments typically signify that the fruit/food contains specific group of antioxidants. Did you know that black raspberry is one of the most researched berry? The specific antioxidants, anthocyanins and ellagic acid, play important roles in cancer prevention, reducing inflammation which is believed to be the underlying cause of many chronic diseases.
Name: Black raspberry: Rubus occidentalis, is known as the Virginia raspberry and one of its common names is “blackcap”. It received this common name, blackcap, due to the characteristic of picked fruit. This fruit pulls off the stem and is hollow, like a cap.
Sometimes black raspberries are confused with blackberries. Raspberries, red and black, have a distinct silver color to the underside of their leaves which blackberries do not have. Also blackberry is a typically larger fruit with no hollow. Blackberries are higher in sugar than black raspberry which could be a problem for some. Black Raspberries are pricklier than red raspberries so it can be difficult to harvest in the wild without some form of clothing protection.
Parts used: fruit, leaves
Health Benefits: Black raspberry is known for its high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, the byproduct of many metabolic processes. When left alone, free radicals cause cell damage that over time can lead to serious illnesses, such as cancer. Anthocyanins, particularly high in black raspberry, contributes to its dark blue color and provides many health benefits:
- Research is finding that anthocyanins may inhibit the growth of tumor cells
- Anti-inflammatory: in part this class of antioxidants found in black raspberries, known as anthocyanins, help prevent blood vessel damage. This is significant in cardiovascular disease and diabetes for example.
- Diabetes: these antioxidants can help repair leaking, damaged arteries caused by poor sugar control which is thought to cause abnormal collagen production seen in the progression of diabetes.
- Anthocyanins are a strong flavanoid and flavanoids seem to offer allergy symptom relief.
- High in fiber
- Low in sugar
- Anthocyanins found in blueberries, bilberries and black raspberries help improve night vision and visual acuity.
- Weight loss: in mice, those fed a diet with anthocyanins showed less weight gain than those fed with no anthocyanins in food
- Birds eat them; supports wildlife
- Bees are attracted to the nectar filled flowers
- Provides a natural dye
Ellagic acid also offers significant health benefits. Like anthocyanins, ellagic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation and cancer prevention studies continue.
Uses: Black raspberries are used in a variety of recipes from jams and jellies, pies, to meat flavorings.
Teas: a tea made form steeped leaves was typically used for stomach complaints such as diarrhea. Gather black raspberry leaves from young canes, dry and then place in glass jar for later use. It is an astringent herb, which means it is drying to tissues that are weepy, such as bowel tissue from diarrhea. Astringent herbs help tissues repair.
Our earth provides so many nourishing and healing foods. Whether you can talk a walk, pick your own or not, I encourage you to give thanks for the bountiful world we live in.
Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. © all rights reserved. Including photos.