Raspberries rank as one of the three most popular berries in the United States—they fall right behind strawberries and blueberries. Luckily for their fans, these lovely, juicy little gems aren’t just yummy; they’re also quite nutritious. Here’s what you should know about raspberry nutrition facts and health benefits, plus key differences between the over 200 different species of raspberries out there.
The Basics of Raspberry Nutrition Facts
The biggest drawback to raspberries, according to some, are those darned seeds. Why so many?
As it happens, those pesky seeds serve as disease-fighting arsenals. “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 of the colon.”
Don’t discount those claims as marketing hype pushed by an industry trade organization; they’re backed up by hard research. In a footnote, the National Processed Raspberry Council notes: “The American Heart Association (AHA), American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) all recommend a high fiber diet for health and wellness and to prevent and/or manage chronic disease.”
A 1-cup serving of fresh raspberries contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 64
- Vitamin C: 43% of your recommended daily value
- Manganese: 36% of your recommended daily value
- Fiber: 29% of your recommended daily value
- Copper: 12% of your recommended daily value
- Vitamin K: 11% of your recommended daily value
- Pantothenic acid: 8% of your recommended daily value
- Biotin: 8% of your recommended daily value
- Vitamin E: 7% of your recommended daily value
- Folate: 6% of your recommended daily value
- Magnesium: 6% of your recommended daily value
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 6% of your recommended daily value
Raspberries also contain lesser concentrations of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.
As you can see, there are plenty of vitamins in raspberries, especially vitamin C. Raspberries are also a wonderfully good source of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, ellagic acid, gallic acid, and flavonoids.
When you pack all that goodness into such a petite package, you get one powerful, disease-fighting fruit.
One important question about the nutritional value of raspberries can be a bit tricky to pin down: their glycemic index (GI) value. Estimates range between 40 and 50 GI, which most experts would categorize as low. A serving size of 1 cup of fresh raspberries nets about 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 5-6 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of dietary fiber.
7 Health Benefits of Raspberries
Raspberries belong to an elite class of fruits that provide a remarkable diversity of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Not only do raspberries contain a variety of these important, health-promoting compounds, but they also contain them in significant amounts.
Anthocyanin is a phytonutrient that lends color to berries. The darker the berry, the more anthocyanin, which has well-documented immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory powers. Our bodies need antioxidants to offset the damage created by our system’s own oxidative processes as well as environmental factors and lifestyle choices such as:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking alcohol
- Exposure to pollution
- Contact with chemical toxins
- Repeated interaction with pesticides
The phytonutrients in raspberries can help counteract the effects of oxidative stress by tracking down and neutralizing free radicals. This can prevent or reverse chronically high levels of inflammation, which can in turn improve your overall wellness.
In recent years, scientific research has shown us that many chronic diseases are associated with inflammation in the body, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
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.”
Raspberries have been shown to play a powerful role in reducing inflammation, but much of the scientific proof for these benefits comes from studies done with test tubes and laboratory animals.
Because of their anti-inflammatory powers, raspberries are believed to help reduce symptoms of the following seven health conditions.
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.
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. Raspberry ketones increase metabolism in fat cells, which can make it less likely that fat will accumulate in those cells and help to use up fat that’s already been stored.
If eating your way to thinness by gorging on raspberries sounds too good to be true, experts say that’s probably accurate. Researchers feel it would be difficult, if not downright impossible, to match the levels of raspberry ketones linked to increased fat metabolism simply by eating raspberries at home.
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 an afternoon snack scooped from the vending machine at work to a tiny container of raspberries brought from home can only bring healthy results.
3. Blood Sugar
Some research has indicated that raspberries can help balance blood sugar levels by changing the way the body digests starch. Phytonutrients found in raspberries regulate the release of an enzyme that your body needs to break down starches into sugars so that excess amounts of sugar don’t enter the bloodstream all at the same time after you eat starchy foods.
However, this research used raspberry extract, so similarly to the benefits of raspberry ketones, it might be challenging to achieve these same results at home.
Research published in the International Journal of Scientific Reports showed that raspberries reduced inflammation among mice afflicted with colitis.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease
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 helped prevent brain damage, according to the Advances in Nutrition piece.
Brain boons combined with anti-inflammatory benefits make raspberries a promising option for decreasing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Heart Disease
Ellagic acid in raspberries may help reduce cardiovascular disease risk, according to research in test tubes and on animals. It appears that ellagic acid lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol, and raspberries contain high amounts of ellagic acid.
Plus, we already know raspberries reduce inflammation 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.”
Given the wealth of antioxidant phytonutrients found in raspberries, it’s hardly surprising that they’re widely known as cancer-fighting food.
High levels of inflammation and oxidative stress can cause cancer cells to develop throughout the body. By combating those factors, raspberries help decrease your risk of developing cancer. Animal studies show that raspberries have the most impact on the development of breast cancer, cervix cancer, colon cancer, esophagus cancer, and prostate cancer.
Because of their high-fiber content, raspberries appear to be especially beneficial when it comes to preventing and treating colon cancer specifically.
A 2016 review published in the journal Antioxidants determined that in addition to decreasing your risk of colon and breast cancers, raspberries do the same “to a lesser degree [for] liver, prostate, pancreas and lung” cancers.
Excitingly enough, it seems certain phytonutrients in raspberries, like ellagic acid, can send signals that encourage cancer cells to self-destruct (a process called apoptosis). Other phytonutrients seem to be able to encourage non-cancerous cells to remain non-cancerous, which can help prevent cancer from spreading.
How Many Types of Raspberries Are There?
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 distinction between the species has to do with their color, which can vary from yellow to black. The more anthocyanin, the darker the berry.
Most commercially sold raspberries fall into three categories: red raspberries, black raspberries, and purple raspberries.
The first, red raspberries, are the most commonly sold. The red raspberry (or concentrations thereof) was also used in the research cited for this article unless otherwise stated.
Black raspberries can be so dark in color that they look more like blackberries than the red raspberries we are use to, while purple raspberries are hybrids of red and black raspberries.
And yellow raspberries actually developed through natural genetic mutations of both red and black raspberries, so while they have a totally unique golden color, botanically speaking, they belong to either the red or black raspberry category.
Whatever the color, these delicious berries are so very good for you. Try out our Raspberry Smoothie Bowl and see for yourself!