Blackberries are a high in antioxidants and they contain plenty of important nutrients. However, if you’re following a Keto diet you might wonder whether you can eat blackberries. The good news is, despite being a fruit, blackberries are Keto-friendly when eaten in moderation. Read on to discover the benefits of these tasty berries, why they work with your Keto and the best ways to incorporate them into your diet.
What are blackberries?
Blackberries are the delicious fruit of a plant in the Rosaceae family. Other members of this family include various types of roses, apples and strawberries. Although the blackberry was once thought of as a weed by ancient civilizations it’s also been known to have incredible health benefits for over 2000 years. The ancient Romans used this berry to treat everything from an infection to a snake bite while the ancient Greeks used it as a treatment for gout. In fact, the Greek’s use of the blackberry earned it the nickname of the gout berry.
Blackberries are grown on long, stemmed bushes with thorns that protect the berries from predators. When these berries are immature they turn from green to red and the berries are quite hard. When they’ve fully matured they turn a dark shade of purple or, as the name suggests, black. Mature berries are soft, juicy and they fall off the bush.
In the modern era science has helped to explain the widespread health benefits of the blackberry, and a lot of it has to do with the high levels of antioxidants this berry contains.
Are blackberries Keto-friendly?
The short answer is, yes, blackberries work well with your Keto when they’re consumed in moderation. The Keto diet requires that you eat no more than 20-25g of net carbs a day. This means that a lot of fruits are too high in sugar (and too high in carbs) to work well with Keto.
Net carbs are the carbs that your body can digest and turn into glucose. On Keto, you want to restrict these digestible carbs in order for your body to switch from using glucose as its primary fuel source to ketones. If you eat too many carbs your body will assume that there’s a large enough supply of them and this will ramp up your glucose production while slowing down the production of ketones.
Net carbs are calculated by taking the total number of carbohydrates in an item of food and subtracting any fiber or sugar alcohols from this number. You do this because your body cannot digest fiber or sugar alcohols for the purposes of glucose production.
There are 13.8g of carbohydrates in a single cup of blackberries. If those carbs were all digestible carbs then blackberries probably wouldn’t fit into your Keto carbohydrate budget. The good news is, blackberries are a great source of fiber. There are 7.6g of fiber in a cup of these delicious berries. That means that there are only 6.2g of net carbs in a cup of berries. While you might be able to fit this into your Keto, you can reap all of the health benefits of blackberries at a smaller serving size. Cut that single cup in half and you’re looking at a mere 3.1g of net carbs. Now that’s doable!
Health benefits of blackberries
Now that you know how blackberries can work for your Keto it’s time to understand why you might want to make room for these tasty treats. A lot of the health benefits of blackberries come from their high levels of antioxidants. One of the things that antioxidants are particularly known for is their ability to battle the damage caused by free radicals in the body. The flavonoids and phenolic acids in blackberries counteract the damage done by free radicals which helps prevent a wide range of diseases.
The Greeks used blackberries to treat gout. Now that we understand the nutrient profile of blackberries this makes sense because blackberries contain— which are great for reducing inflammation in the body. Gout is essentially painful inflammation in your joints so something that reduces inflammation would probably go a long way towards helping with the pain of gout. In particular, it’s thought that the resveratrol and anthocyanins in blackberries work to reduce the swelling and pain associated with gout.
Blackberries are also shown in studies to prevent certain types of cancers including esophageal, lung and colon cancer. Blackberries work to prevent malignant cancer cells from forming and multiplying. It is believed that it’s the specific micro-nutrient profile of blackberries that has this effect.
The antioxidants in blackberries are also great for slowing down mental and physical decline associated with aging, which was determined by a study done on rats in 2013. Eating a diet that’s high in blackberries may improve your memory and your cognition as well as give your motor skills a helpful boost.
The high fiber that lowers the net carbs in blackberries to a tolerable level is also great for your digestion. Insoluble fiber allows the food in your GI tract to absorb water which allows your stool to pass through you easier. It also helps prevent constipation by making your stool softer.
Soluble fiber is also beneficial, but its benefits extend to the health of your heart by lowering your LDL and triglyceride levels. Blackberries are also great for heart health because of their high antioxidant and magnesium content. Magnesium works together with soluble fiber to keep your arteries clear from blockages while keeping the rhythm of your heart steady. There are 20mg of this heart healthy nutrient in every serving of blackberries.
Magnesium is also important in bone health. It’s needed to allow your body to absorb the calcium you obtain from your diet. A serving of blackberries contains 29mg of calcium and together, these two nutrients work to strengthen your bones. Blackberries also contain phosphorus which is needed to control the amount of calcium in your body. So, when combined the phosphorus controls the amount of calcium, the magnesium allows your body to make use of it and the calcium helps build strong bones. And all three of these co-operative nutrients can be found in blackberries!
Blackberries are also great for your skin and your vision due to the nutrients they contain. When it comes to your eyes, blackberries contain lutein which is used by your body to protect your eyes from the damage caused by UV rays. The vitamins and minerals in blackberries also help protect your vision by decreasing your chance of developing night-blindness, cataracts and macular degeneration. The vitamin C, E and antioxidants that are found in blackberries are great for keeping your skin supple and wrinkle free. Vitamin C, in particular, is necessary for increasing the amount of collagen in the skin to improve your skin’s elasticity.
If your pregnant than blackberries make a great addition to your diet because they’re high in folate, a nutrient that’s essential to the proper brain development of your baby. A healthy mom means a healthy baby. They also help protect you from disease and may even help battle the inflammation and soreness that comes from carrying extra weight during pregnancy.
Best ways to incorporate blackberries into your Keto
Blackberries are very versatile. It’s easy to incorporate them into your meals and gain the health benefits and juicy flavor that they provide. The following are some helpful ways of adding this delicious berry into your meals.
On their own: One of the beauties about this berry is that it doesn’t have to be added to anything to be enjoyed. So, the easiest way to enjoy blackberries is to simple pop a few in your mouth! Blackberries make a great, low-prep snack that you can take on the go. All you have to do is wash a handful, pop it in a container and you know that when you get hungry later in the day you have a delicious, healthy snack to munch on.
In a smoothie: If you’re looking to enjoy a keto-friendly smoothie in the morning, then blackberries make a great addition. Since you can’t have sugar on Keto, blackberries provide the sweetness you need to get through that shake that you’ve loaded with plenty of healthy greens.
In your Keto baking: If you’re a fan of baking, and you have the low carb ingredients you need, then why not toss a handful or two of blackberries into your baked treats? The blackberries will add a hint of sweetness and they can be added to muffins, cakes, breads and even cookies.
On top of your salad: Who says that salads have to be boring? Salads are a fantastic way to get the green veggies that you need on Keto, and you can dress them up by adding a boost of berry sweetness. Sprinkle a handful of blackberries on top of your salad for a fruity change to your normal oil and vinegar routine. You won’t even miss the croutons!
Blackberries are high in fiber and low in net carbohydrates which makes them a great addition to your Keto diet. They’re extremely versatile and loaded with health benefits so if you have an opportunity to add these into your Keto meals, your body (and taste buds) will thank you.