Today I would like to talk to you about the properties and health benefits of raspberries. Raspberries are members of the Rubus subgenus and come in a variety of colors: red, black, yellow and even a hybrid purple variety that is currently gaining a great deal of popularity. But color isn’t really that important when it comes to these forest fruits. What makes them a great addition to any diet is their nutritional profile, especially their vitamin C, manganese, iron and copper content and the fact that they are a source of potent antioxidants.
What should interest us next is whether or not they are organic. Numerous scientific studies have shown that organic raspberries may contain up to 4 times more antioxidants than most of the fruits largely available on the market. Fruits you may typically find at the supermarket may actually contain several times more pesticides and other hazardous chemicals than they should, posing serious risks to our health in the long-term, whereas raspberries are often safer choices thanks to the hardiness of the raspberry bush and the fact that it is a prolific producer of fruit.
What do raspberries look like? Raspberries are small compound fruit, meaning what we know to be an individual fruit is actually made up of several others. Each fruit looks as if tiny, plump globes of fruit stick to each other to form one larger fruit. Also, each of the individual plump globes contains extremely small, edible seeds with incredibly fine hairs. If you remove the tender, green stems off of a raspberry fruit, you will notice it has a basket shape and is hollow on the inside. Depending on the variety, fruit may be smaller or larger, but typically no bigger than a fingertip. Also, raspberries can be red, yellow, purple or blue-black colored.
What do raspberries taste like? Overall, raspberries are sweet-tasting, with delicate forest fruit flavors. Red varieties have a hint of tartness to them, but grow to be quite sweet when they are perfectly ripe. Yellow raspberries develop quite a honey-sweet taste when ripe and are much more flavorful than red ones. Black raspberries combine the taste of red raspberries and the taste of blackberries into a rich, but not overly sweet flavor profile. Lastly, purple raspberries taste like red ones, but slightly sweeter. The more water and sunlight the plant receives during its fruiting period, the plumper, juicier and more flavorful the raspberries.
Raspberries are highly perishable: once purchased or gathered, they have to be consumed within about 2 days, that is if they are already perfectly ripe and kept in a cool place until they are eaten. If refrigerated, they are best kept at a temperature of around 2-4°C for no more than 2 days. They are also the perfect choice for any meal and not even the pickiest child will say no to a delicious raspberry and banana smoothie.
Raspberries are famous for their anticancer properties because of their high levels of phytochemicals which have a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. More specifically, these phytochemicals protect cells against free radical damage and reduce inflammation as a result of cell damage. Even more, some phytochemicals in the fruit have been known to act on tumor cells and reduce the speed at which they reproduce, slowing down their spread. Organic raspberries in particular will have significantly higher levels of phytochemicals, natural compounds that actively fight toxins and carcinogens. The health benefits they bring you are unparalleled.
Anthocyanins, the pigments that give raspberries and other fruit their red, purple and blue-black colors, exert strong antioxidant effects and have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Moreover, studies show a tannin called ellagitannin found in the fruit may be able to reduce the number of cancer cells by sending specific signals that promote apoptosis, a cycle of programmed cell deaths. In the case of potentially modified, but not yet cancerous cells, phytochemicals trigger a process that prevents abnormal cell proliferation that could stop tumor growth.
The wide range of natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in raspberries is truly remarkable, especially when very few fruits can provide them in such quantities. Here is a list of the phytochemical antioxidants that can be found in raspberries: anthocyanins, cyanidins, pelargonidin, delphinidin, malvidins, flavonols (quercitin), kaempferol, catechin, glycoside, flavonoids (tiliroside), tannins (ellagitannins – sanguiin; gallotannins; proanthocyanidins), hydroxybenzoic acid, ellagic acid, lambertianin C, vanilic acid, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, hydrxycinnamic acids (caffeic acid; coumaric acid; ferulic acid), stilbenes and resveratrol.
Phytochemicals scavenge for harmful free radical molecules and regulate the activity of enzymes that could trigger unwanted inflammation. In view of such health effects, it has been theorized that eating raspberries regularly can reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress and chronic inflammation such as: obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, degenerative diseases of the nervous system, cancer and others.
If you take a look at the nutritional table above you will see that raspberries are a good source of vitamins C, E and K as well as contain generous amounts of manganese, a mineral with strong antioxidant effects. Lastly, they contain good amounts of copper, iron and small amounts of magnesium. In addition to this, these cute colorful bundles contain trace amounts of plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for good health and particularly beneficial for the heart and brain (read more about the different kinds of Omega-3).
Other nutrients and elements of nutritional importance in 100 g of fresh raspberries:
– 52 kcal energetic value
– 11.94 g of carbohydrates
– 4.42 g of natural sugars
– 1.2 g of protein
– 0.65 g of fat
– 6.5 g of dietary fiber
As a result of their more than generous fiber content (6.5 g which represents about 25% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber), raspberries are extremely beneficial for the digestive tract, regulating digestion and transit time, relieving constipation and exerting a protective action on the colon lining. By relieving constipation, they are a good food to eat for hemorrhoids (read more about what to eat for hemorrhoids).
Eating fresh raspberries can contribute to the following benefits:
1) Improves symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, gout etc.
2) Boosts immunity as a result of a good vitamin C content.
Red raspberries were also traditionally used to cure the common cold and the flu.
3) Possible benefits for hay fever symptoms thanks to the antihistamine action of vitamin C.
4) Beautiful skin as a result of a good vitamin E and B vitamins content.
5) Good for anemia due to iron content.
6) Tonic action, elevated energy levels from vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.
7) Low in calories and fat, benefits for weight loss.
8) Relieves constipation and helps manage hemorrhoids.
9) Cardiovascular benefits from the high fiber content.