The Raspberry: Varieties, Nutrition, Benefits

There are plenty of vitamins in raspberries, especially vitamin C. Add them to the fiber and the antioxidants (especially anthocyanin and ellagitannins) packed into the total package of raspberry nutrition, and you’ve got one powerful, disease-fighting fruit.

Those yummy raspberries are good for us, too. Their only drawback, according to some, are those darned seeds.

Why so many?

Because that’s where their disease-fighting arsenal lies. “A single red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is actually many little fruits or drupelets all clustered together, each with its own seed,” explains RedRazz.org, a site run by the National Processed Raspberry Council. “The seeds have the fiber and also may contribute other nutrition benefits such as cardiovascular and brain health, prevention of cancers, especially the colon.”

And while the claims are made by an industry trade organization, they are true. There is some research to back up all those brags about raspberry nutrition.

Vitamins in Raspberries

There are plenty of vitamins in raspberries, especially vitamin C. Add them to the fiber and the antioxidants (especially anthocyanin and ellagitannins) packed into the total package of raspberry nutrition, and you’ve got one powerful, disease-fighting fruit.

Anthocyanin is a phytonutrient that lends color to berries. The darker the berry, the more anthocyanin. But anthocyanin also has well-documented immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory powers. Our bodies need antioxidants to offset the “pollution” created by our system’s own oxidative processes. But our cells also become damaged by oxidation when we smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and work and/or live in polluted, chemically toxic environments.

There are plenty of vitamins in raspberries, especially vitamin C. Add them to the fiber and the antioxidants (especially anthocyanin and ellagitannins) packed into the total package of raspberry nutrition, and you’ve got one powerful, disease-fighting fruit.

Raspberry Benefits

In recent years, scientific research has shown us that many chronic diseases are associated with inflammation in the body. The raspberry plays a powerful role in reducing inflammation, but it only has been proven scientifically so in test tubes and laboratory animals.

A comprehensive review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition noted that cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease all “share critical metabolic, oxidative, and inflammatory links.”

Because of their anti-inflammatory powers, raspberries are believed to help reduce symptoms of:

Diabetes. The authors of the Advances in Nutrition piece determined “that red raspberry components have biological activity that could be clinically relevant in preventing or managing diabetes” proven by laboratory and animal studies.

The studies showed antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing action in certain tissues, particularly fat tissue.

Obesity. While eating your way to thinness by gouging yourself with raspberries sounds fun and trendy, experts say it’s probably not realistic.

Previous research in rats has shown that raspberries have ketones that burn fat, much the same as if you were to induce a natural ketonic state in your body by starving it of sugar. But, say the researchers, “The natural abundance of raspberry ketones is low; therefore, achieving concentrations reported in these studies would be challenging.”

Still, there might be something true to using the raspberry to lose weight. For starters, raspberries are packed with fiber, a necessary ingredient in any weight-loss plan. Simply switching from the Skittles in the vending machine at work to a tiny container of raspberries for a snack, can only bring healthy results.

Colitis. Research published in the International Journal of Scientific Reports showed that raspberries reduced inflammation among mice afflicted with colitis.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Studies on rats have shown raspberry extract helps restore brain function even after traumatic brain or rat spinal cord injury. Studies also have shown that feeding the rats raspberry extract before the injuries helps prevent brain damage, according to the Advances in Nutrition piece.

Ellagic acid in raspberries may help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Existing research in test tubes and on animals has shown ellagic acid lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Raspberries contain high amounts of ellagic acid.

And we already know raspberries reduce inflammation in the body and oxidation in the body, leading the authors of the Advances in Nutrition piece to conclude “that raspberries affect emerging (i.e., oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial function) and traditional risk factors of cardiovascular disease.”

Cancer. Because of their high-fiber content, all raspberries are considered a known cancer-fighting food, at least as it pertains to colon cancer, specifically. But research also hints that ellagic acid may be an anti-cancer agent. A 2016 review published in the journal Antioxidants determined berries not only protect against colon cancer because of their high-fiber content, but also against breast cancer, and “to a lesser degree of liver, prostate, pancreas and lung.”

And anthocyanin may be, too. For that reason, it’s black raspberries that have shown the most promise as a cancer fighter, according to an American Institute for Cancer Research blog post reviewing recent research.

Raspberry Varieties

Raspberries flourish in many parts of the country, from the East Coast to the Midwest and beyond. Different species harvest at different times, while others harvest year-round. The main thing to remember is that raspberries vary in color from yellow to black. The more anthocyanin, the darker the berry.

However, commercially speaking, the red raspberry is most commonly sold. The red raspberry (or concentrations thereof) also is what were used in the research cited for this article unless otherwise stated.

Despite their “seedy” reputation, those “raspy” berries are soft on the outside and sweet on the inside.

They are so very good for you, too. Try out our Raspberry Smoothie Bowl and see for yourself!

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