Blackberry and apple crumble is a favourite pudding of mine and the late summer hedgerows contain an abundance of these berries, ripe and ready for picking. Berries of all descriptions are packed full of flavenoids, designed to protect the fruits from sun damage.

These are found in the dark, vivid purple pigment of the berries and when eaten, confer numerous health benefits to us. The most important flavenoid in berries is a particular a group of natural chemicals called anthocyanins.

First and foremost, anthocyanins are antioxidants so they protect us against oxidative damage, which makes them anti-carcinogenic.1  However, research has also shown they display a variety of beneficial effects on blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, as well as on blood platelets and lipoproteins – so reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases.

Dark pigmented berries are also anti-inflammatory, and Inflammation has been implicated in the development of many chronic diseases, so if we can modulate the inflammatory response by consuming natural bioactive food compounds, such as contained within dark-pigmented berries, this could prove a powerful tool to support health.2

Berries have also been shown to decrease the body’s glucose response, so can help with blood sugar regulation and actually lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Blackberries compliment apples beautifully and mother-nature of course recognises this by having both ready for harvest at the same time.  The seriously health-conscious amongst you may be reluctant to finish a meal with anything sweet, but even traditional recipes for crumble topping can be adapted to boost their nutrition and reduce the guilt!

Replace some of the flour with ground almonds, a handful of porridge oats and a couple of tablespoons of milled seeds. ‘Linwoods’ do a wonderful vacuum-packed range, that are so finely milled you’d never guess they were seeds, they just add a depth a flavour and richness to a crumble whilst boosting the nutrient content. Rub a good quality butter into the dry ingredients and add a good teaspoon of cinnamon which adds flavour and means you can get away with much less sugar!

YUM.

1 Mazza GJ (2007) Anthocyanins and heart health. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 43(4):369-74. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18209270

2 Martinez-Micaelo N (2012) Procyanidins and inflammation: molecular targets and health implications. Biofactors. 38(4):257-65. doi: 10.1002/biof.1019.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22505223