Nutritional Gems for Autumn 2012

Image of blackberries adapted from original on www.pdphotos.orgWhy eat Blackberries?

Quite simply 3 reasons: they’re free, they’re good for you and they taste delicious.

From late summer to early autumn the blackberry can easily be found, in our case along the Phoenix trail.
This is a popular pursuit and so it should be. It is one aspect of the foraging caveman we can certainly emulate with ease. The blackberry is an aggregate fruit related to the raspberry, but also black raspberries and red blackberries! Raspberries, red and black, leave their centre behind whilst the blackberries don’t. Blackberries get sweeter as the season progresses, what’s more the wild blackberries are said to taste better than cultivated varieties. If you manage to get more than you need don’t forget they freeze well.

Now onto some nutritional stuff. Cut an apple and it turns brown. Metal rusts, butter goes rancid. This process is called oxidation and we rust and rot with age, deteriorating in the same way. If you eat colour, you slow down this process, since colours in food work as anti-oxidants which slow down aging processes, reducing the risks of diseases such as heart disease and Cancer.

Anthocyanins are the key group of phytonutrients in blackberry that gives it its colour, they are also present in many other red and purple fruits including the red grape and hence red wine. Scientists are finding out more and more about phytonutrients found in brightly coloured food and their benefits to health. It seems likely that there are synergistic effects, hence a real benefit to eating whole food over just taking supplements. All berries are know for their high anti-oxidant content, but blackberries top the score board even better than the well marketed blueberry.

Try to enjoy the blackberry as nature intended, without sugar and fresh. Berries in general have low levels of fructose and with their fibre content work well for someone who is trying to manage their blood sugar. You can use a liquidiser to quickly make them into a sugar free jam/sauce, delicious with yoghurt or use them in smoothie recipes. Frozen berries work well as a standby and when berries are out of season.

Cooking them will result in some nutrient loss, but don’t let me stop you enjoying a good apple and blackberry crumble (why not try to cut down on some of the sugar though, maybe add some ground almonds and oats to your topping.)

So happy foraging: I hope there’s still some left!!