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Blackberries could boost gut health and help ease common conditions such as IBS, new research has indicated.

Phenolics are natural plant-based compounds which give blackberries their distinctive colour and have many potential health benefits, and a new study published in the Food Chemistry Journal undertook a lab-based digestion and fermentation model of blackberries to see how easily these beneficial compounds are absorbed.

Researchers found absorption to be high, with 43 per cent of the plant-based compound remaining in the colon. Phenolics enable the gut flora to flourish, with desirable bacteria (bacteroidetes) increasing and less desirable bacteria (firmicutes) decreasing.

This research highlights the potential digestive benefits of blackberries, which could aid gut health including the symptom relief of IBS. One third of Brits suffer from IBS and one in 10 seek medical advice for the condition.

Dr Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and adviser to British Summer Fruits, said: “These findings are important and of great interest given the growing interest around gut health. Clearly, large-scale clinical human trials are needed to build on these findings. In the meantime, including blackberries within your daily diet is an easy way to obtain useful amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and dietary fibre along with these potentially desirable phenolics.”  

The appetite for blackberries is increasing in the UK, with an estimated 25.5 million punnets sold last year, an eight per cent uplift on 2020, according to British Summer Fruits.

In part, this growth can be attributed to the careful breeding of the fruit in recent years, BSF added, which has ensured that the blackberries bought in supermarkets are typically bigger, juicier and sweeter than their hedgerow counterparts.