I grew up eating black raspberries as a child. They are very hard to find these days; most of the darker colored berries in the grocery store are blackberries. Now, you’re probably sitting there scratching your head and asking “Whatchu talking about, Willis?” Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that there are two distinct “black berry” choices.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know there was a difference; even some food companies and nutritionists don’t realize that these are two different food items. Yes, they are both berries, and yes, they are both black. But there are distinct taste and nutritional differences between the two.
What they look like: Blackberries are bigger; with larger single cells that bulge out more than the cells in a black raspberry. The berry top appears closed. Blackberries are more shiny or glossy than a black raspberry.
How they taste: Less tart than a red raspberry and sweeter.
Health benefits: Blackberries definitely provide health benefits, but do not contain the same levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins as black raspberries. They have higher levels of natural sugars, which can be an issue for people with diabetes. They haven’t been studied as much as black raspberries.
What they look like: Looks like a red raspberry only black. Farmers call them “blackcaps” because when the berry comes off the bush, they are hollow inside (top appears open or hollow). The individual cells of the black raspberry are much smaller than a blackberry’s and do not protrude or stick out.
How they taste: More fruity and less tart than a blackberry. They contain less sugar, so are not as sweet. A black raspberry has a unique taste that is not like other berries.
Health benefits: Black raspberries are one of the healthiest berries you can eat. They are lower in sugar than other berries and provide a lot of fiber (about 8 grams per cup). They contain large amounts of anthocyanins, with approximately three times the number of antioxidants found in blackberries. They are also one of the most highly-researched berries, especially in the area of cancer prevention.
Nutritionally, plant foods can be measured to see how many antioxidants a specific serving of food will provide. Used by the USDA, it’s called an ORAC score, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (how many free radical cells can those antioxidants sweep up or absorb). Below is a chart comparing the antioxidant content of a variety of berries. Note which version is in first place.
All berries are good choices to eat for optimum health benefits. But try to acquire some black raspberries this summer when you’re out at the farm market; your body will thank you.
Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, email@example.com
Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, firstname.lastname@example.org