Blackberry vs Mulberry - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
On the outside, blackberries and mulberries look quite similar, however, botanically, they don’t have much in common. Blackberries are the edible fruit of the Rubus genus, belonging to the Rosaceae family, whereas mulberries belong to the Morus genus, from the Moraceae family. Blackberries grow on prickly bushes and mulberries grow on trees that can reach to be over 24 meters (80ft.) (1). Botanically speaking, both blackberries and mulberries are not berries at all. Blackberries are aggregate fruits that have numerous drupelets, and mulberries are multiple fruits.
Ripe mulberries can be black, white or red, depending on the species. Blackberries, on the other hand, when ripe appear to be only dark purple or black. Mulberries are also famous for their staining ability. When it comes into contact, it often stains the clothes and the skin, whereas blackberries don’t tend to do that. The shape of blackberries is often rounder, while some species of mulberry fruits can grow to be around 10cm (0.3ft.) in length. When picked, the mulberry fruit tends to have a white or green stem on it, contrastingly, the blackberry does not.
The origin of white mulberry is traced back to Central and Easten China. It spread to Europe and eventually, to North America, where it was naturalized and hybridized with the red mulberry. The red mulberry is also called the American mulberry, since it is native to eastern United States, from Massachusetts to Kansas and down the Gulf coast. The black mulberry, being native to Eastern Asia, has spread to Europe centuries ago (1).
The historic route of blackberries isn’t so clear. They are native to Asia, Europe, North America (2), mostly in north temperate zones.
General nutritional characteristics may differ depending on the type of mulberries, here we will be talking about the black mulberry.
The macronutrient composition of blackberries and mulberries is not so different. They have the same amount of calories per serving. Mulberries are slightly higher in protein and carbohydrates, sugars in particular. Blackberries, on the other hand, are richer in fats and fiber. Mulberries and blackberries are equal in glycemic index, both having an index of 25 and being considered as low glycemic index foods.
Both blackberries and mulberries are rich in vitamins. Blackberries contain higher concentrations of vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K, whereas mulberries are richer in vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2 and B6. Both fruits are equal in the amount of vitamin B3 and do not contain vitamin D, vitamins B12 and B9.
Blackberries are higher in copper and zinc. On the other hand, mulberries contain more iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Blackberries are lower in sodium. Both fruits contain almost the same amount of magnesium.
Berries have long been considered an important part of a healthy human diet. Both blackberries and mulberries are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants, giving them various beneficial qualities. Both fruits have strong scavenging and metal chelating activities and can be used as functional foods.
Overall it has been reported that levels of phenolic and flavonoid compounds in black mulberry fruits are higher than that of blackberry’s (4). Long mulberries contain these compounds in lesser amounts (5).
The predominant organic acid present in a wild grown black mulberry is the malic acid (3). Malic acid is one of the compounds involved in the cell’s Krebs cycle and has been used for medicinal purposes, most commonly to alleviate symptoms of dry mouth. It can also be helpful in conditions such as fibromyalgia, skin conditions and fatigue, however there is yet not enough scientific evidence to support this (6).
Black mulberry has a stronger antioxidant capacity when compared to white mulberry. Among the phenolic acids, the one with the highest concentration in wild grown blackberries and in white and black mulberries was chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid has anthocyanin stabilizing qualities (7). Another phenolic acid, oxalic acid, was only found in the wild grown blackberries (3). The predominant organic acids found in blackberries were citric and malic acids (8).
Both mulberries and blackberries are also rich in a polyphenol called resveratrol. Resveratrol has been found to modulate vascular cell function, inhibit low density lipoprotein oxidation, suppress platelet aggregation and reduce myocardial damage during ischaemia reperfusion, presenting biological benefits during cardiovascular conditions and inflammation. Resveratrol has also been shown to inhibit kinase activity, which is a factor related to cancer (9).
The antioxidant that gives blackberries and mulberries their dark colouring is called anthocyanin, which also has an array of health benefits. Anthocyanins in mulberries have been proven to express hepatoprotective and hypolipidemic qualities during liver cirrhosis (10), as well as having the ability to potentially prevent atherosclerosis, inhibit melanoma metastasis and gastric cancer cell growth (11). Anthocyanins found in blackberries, on the other hand, have been proven to ameliorate diet-induced obesity by alleviating oxidative stress and inflammation and accelerating energy expenditure (12).
Another compound found in mulberries with a complicated name of cyanidin-3-O-beta-d-glucopyranoside or C3G for short, has been proven to have protective qualities against cerebral ischaemia (13).
A study has shown that blackberry extracts have antimicrobial qualities against significant periodontal pathogens, as well as Streptococcus mutans, that can be effectively used in order to maintain oral health (14).
The aqueous herbal tea extract of blackberries, due to its phenolic content, can potentially prevent the development of vascular diseases seen in type 2 diabetes (15).
The antidiabetic effects of a mulberry are due to polysaccharides found within white mulberries that express antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities (16), as well as due to its concentration of anthocyanin (17).
Blackberries and mulberries have many similarities, as well as differences. Blackberries grow on bushes and have a rounder shape, mulberries grow on trees and are more oval. They are similar in nutritional values, however blackberries contain more fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper and zinc, whereas mulberries are richer in sugars, vitamin C, vitamin B2, iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Both fruits are very rich in antioxidants, such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins, therefore have potential beneficial effects on cardiovascular, diabetic and oncological conditions.
In the debate of blackberry vs mulberry, there is no clear answer and the choice is up to the individual preference.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugars|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in glycemic index||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable in case of diets?
|Low Calories diet||Equal|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet||Equal|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Folic acid (B9)||0||0|