Raspberries are one of the world’s most consumed berries, and it’s no wonder since they’re naturally sweet and juicy. They can range in color from the popular red and black varieties to purple, yellow, or golden. Each color of berry has a unique composition of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which may help prevent a range of health conditions.
The first recorded cultivation of raspberries was believed to have originated from Eastern Asia. Archeological evidence shows that raspberries were a part of the Paleolithic cave dwellers’ diets. In ancient Greece, raspberries were believed to promote fertility. Europeans brought raspberries into North America during the 1700s and today, the leading raspberry-producing regions include Washington, Oregon, and California.
Why are raspberries so beneficial for our health?Raspberries are a good source of antioxidants.
- Raspberries contain a high amount of antioxidants which help the body eliminate toxic substances known as free radicals. The body produces some of these substances during metabolic processes, but others result from external factors, such as unhealthful foods and pollution. Unhealthful foods include processed foods and those high in fat and sugar. If too many free radicals remain in the body, they can cause cell damage, resulting in a range of health problems. Vitamins C and E, selenium, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin are all examples of antioxidants present in raspberries. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants can contribute to the health of the brain and the neurological system, as there is evidence that vitamins C and E may help protect a person’s ability to think and remember information as they get older. TheNational Cancer Institute also notes that antioxidants from dietary sources may help protect the body from lung, esophageal, gastric, and other types of cancer.
- Raspberries can suppress inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease. Various antioxidants may reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet buildup and lowering blood pressure. American Heart Association encourages people to increase their potassium intake and reduce the amount of sodium in their diet. One cup of raspberries contains186 milligrams of potassium.
- Raspberries help with diabetes management. The antioxidants in berries may help prevent inflammation, which could be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Dietary fiber might lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve symptoms in people who already have this condition.
- Raspberries are a good source of fiber. One cup of raspberries contains8 grams of fiber, which can help keep our digestive system working smoothly. The fiber and water content in raspberries can help prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Adequate fiber promotes the regularity of bowel movements, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins. Increased fiber intake may also help with managing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and supporting weight loss.
- Raspberries help eye health. Raspberries contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which filters out harmful blue light rays. It may play a role in protecting the eyes from age-related macular degeneration(AMD), a condition that causes vision problems in older people.
Raspberries can be added to a number of foods. They are available fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried or as an ingredient in jellies, syrups, and jams. Fresh or frozen raspberries are best, as other raspberry products usually contain added sugars. Ways to include fresh or frozen raspberries in the diet include adding them to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal; making a fresh fruit cocktail with raspberries, pineapple, sliced peaches, and strawberries; adding raspberries, grapes, and walnuts to a chicken salad; topping whole-grain waffles or pancakes with fresh raspberries; blending raspberries in a food processor with a little water and using the mixture as a fresh syrup for desserts, ice cream sundaes, or breakfast foods; or mixing raspberries into a spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese.