What's New and Beneficial About Raspberries
• One of the most fascinating new areas of raspberry research involves the potential for raspberries to improve management of obesity. Although this research is in its early stages, scientists now know that metabolism in our fatcells can be increased by phytonutrients found in raspberries, especially rheosmin (also called raspberry ketone). By increasing enzyme activity, oxygen consumption, and heat production in certain types of fat cells, raspberry phytonutrients like rheosmin may be able to decrease risk of obesity as well as risk of fatty liver. In addition to these benefits, rheosmin can decrease activity of a fat-digesting enzyme released by our pancreas called pancreatic lipase. This decrease in enzyme activity may result in less digestion and absorption of fat.
• Recent research on organic raspberries has now shown organic raspberries to be significantly higher in total antioxidant capacity than non-organic raspberries. Raspberries in the study were grown on farms in Maryland that had been previously certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A series of tests involving free radical scavenging all provided the same results: organic raspberries outperformed their non-organic counterparts in terms of their antioxidant activity. This greater antioxidant capacity was associated with the greater levels of total phenols and total anthocyanins found in organic versus non-organicraspberries. While there are many good reasons to purchase organic versus non-organicfoods of all kinds, this study makes it clear that these reasons specifically hold true forraspberries in a profound way.
• You'll get significantly more antioxidant support by purchasing raspberries that are fully ripe. Recent studies have measured the total phenolic content, total flavonoid content, and anthocyanin content of raspberries harvested at varying stages of ripeness (from 50% to 100% maturity) and greatest overall antioxidant benefits were associated with full ripeness of the berries. Although it's possible for raspberries to ripen after harvest, this fruit can be highly perishable and can mold quite easily at room temperature. So your most risk-free approach for getting optimal antioxidant benefits from raspberries is to purchase them at full maturity, keep them refrigerated at all times at temperatures between 35-39°F (2°-4°C), and consume them very quickly (within 1 to 2 days after purchase).
• Anti-cancer benefits of raspberries have long been attributed to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. In animal studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal, and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role in lowering oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, and thereby altering the development or reproduction of cancer cells. But new research in this area has shown that the anti-cancerbenefits of raspberries may extend beyond their basic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory aspects. Phytonutrients in raspberries may also be able to change the signals that are sent to potential or existing cancer cells. In the case of existing cancer cells, phytonutrients like ellagitannins in raspberries may be able to decrease cancer cell numbers by sending signals that encourage the cancer cells to being a cycle of programmed cell death (apoptosis). In the case of potentially but not yet cancerous cells, phytonutrients in raspberries may be able to trigger signals that encourage the non-cancerous cells to remain non-cancerous.
Possible health benefits of consuming raspberries
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like raspberries decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Several animal studies have shown a positive correlation between intake of flavonoids in berries and memory improvement; they may also decrease the decline in cognitive ability related to aging.
A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition associated the intake of flavonoid-rich foods like raspberrieswith a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. They stated that even small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial.
One group of flavonoids in particular - anthocyanins - have been shown to suppress the inflammation that may lead to cardiovascular disease.
The high polyphenol content in raspberries may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet buildup and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D., MSc, BSc, a nutrition professor at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, led an 18-year study with Harvard Public School of Health that tracked 93,600 women aged 25-42.
She states that their study was able to show "for the first time that a regular, sustained intake of anthocyanins from berries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women."
The potassium in raspberries supports heart health as well. In one study, participants who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassiumper day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium.Cancer prevention
Raspberries contain powerful antioxidants that work against free radicals, inhibiting tumor growth and decreasinginflammation in the body. Those same potent polyphenols that protect against heart disease also help ward off or slow many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate, and colon.
Any plant food with skin has lots of fiber - and raspberries have lots of skin! Eating high-fiber foods help keep blood sugar stable. Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.
Digestion, detox, and disease prevention
The fiber and water content in raspberries help to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation; consequently, this decreases the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Kentucky, high fiber intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.
Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
Women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should aim for about 30 grams. One cup of raspberriesprovides 8 grams of fiber.
Easy on the eyes
Foods high in vitamin C like raspberries have been shown to help keep eyes healthy by providing protection against UV light damage.
Raspberries also contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which filters out harmful blue light rays and is thought to play a protective role in eye health and possibly ward off damage from macular degeneration.
A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of, and progression of, age-related macular degeneration.