6 health benefits of raspberries

The beautiful raspberry is a fruit from the genus Rubus plant, a member of the Rose family. Globalisation, as well as modification through technology, now allows for a range of different raspberries to be produced and sold on the market, with examples including the purple, blue, golden and yellow raspberries.

While each individual berry contains a range of different beneficial nutrients and minerals for a healthy lifestyle, this article will focus primarily on the common red raspberry.

Known for their succulent sweet taste and bright and colourful appearance, the raspberry is not just something pretty to look at.

In fact, research demonstrates their wildly nutritious content which could serve to benefit your health, body and well being. Packed full of necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, raspberries are great as a quick snack or wonderful accompanied in smoothies, served with yogurt or even mixed into your salad.

Lets take a look at how this small fruit can bring big changes to your life.

Nutritional Information

A small handful of 10 raspberries contain only 10 calories – that is only one calorie per berry! Similarly, they have a very low fat-content of only 0.12g (with only 0.004g of saturated fat, 0.012g of monounsaturated fat and 0.071g of polyunsaturated fat; the healthier fat you want in any diet). Raspberries will provide you with 2.27g of carbs and 0.23g of protein. What else can they offer you?

Nutrition In-Depth Analysis

  • 1 cup (approx. 100g) of raspberries provide you with 187mg of potassium. Potassium is one of the seven essential macrominerals and it helps build muscle, synthesize proteins and  control the vital electrical activity of the heart. It aids in the maintenance of total body fluid volume and ensures normal cell function. Studies suggest that high potassium intake correlates with a 20% decrease in risk of dying from cancer, a significant reduced risk of suffering from a stroke, lower blood pressure, protection of muscle mass and the preservation of bone mineral density. While 187mg may not seem as much when compared to the banana (450mg of potassium per cup), raspberries contain much less sugar (bananas have 28g compared to 1g in the raspberry); carbohydrates (bananas have 51g compared to 14g in raspberries) and calories (201 calories in a cup of mashed bananas compared to 60 calories in a cup of raspberries).
  • Raspberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals vital to a healthy body. One cup of raspberries contain 7.8µg of Vitamin K (6.5% of your DRA), 1.42mg of Vitamin E (9% of your DRA) and a whopping 26.2mg of Vitamin C (47% of your DRA!). Furthermore, raspberries also contain 90 µg of copper (10% of your DRA), 0.670mg of manganese (29% of your DRA) and are full of calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. But what do all of these vitamins and minerals do for you? There is an abundance of research to show that diets rich in different minerals and vitamins lead to a long and healthy life. Vitamin C helps boost our immune systems, reducing our chances of becoming ill, while Vitamin E helps promote healthy skin and hair, fights off cancer cells and lowers your cholesterol levels. Vitamin K is often overlooked but helps in strengthening your bones and promotes higher levels of brain activity. For women, vitamin K has shown to regulate menstrual cycles and helps blood clot in both sexes. Diets rich in manganese, copper, calcium, iron and zinc have shown to boost your immune system, help prevent both type 1 and 2 diabetes and keep your heart healthy.

What Raspberries Can Do For Your Health

We know that consuming fruit and vegetables brings all sorts of benefits to your life. Many studies demonstrate that increasing consumption of plant food like raspberries and blueberries decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and early death. They also result in a healthy complexion, increased levels of energy and maintenance of a healthy weight. Here are some other benefits that raspberries bring:

1. Big for Brains

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Many animal studies demonstrate a positive correlation between the intake of berries and memory improvement, as well as decreasing the delay in cognitive functions related to ageing. This means that raspberries may help you remember more information which will stick with you through out your life.

Anthocyanins (the colourful antioxidant found in raspberries) help the neurons in our brains by providing them with more energy. The polyphenolic compounds found in raspberries may lower oxidative stress and inflammation. Drop the Doritos and grab a bowl of raspberries when studying or at work; not only can it help your memory and brain function better, its properties could even help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

The onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s are detrimental to basic motor and cognitive functions which occur as a part of the ageing process.

The Kame Project demonstrates scientific evidence which shows that the regular consumption of fruit juice (like raspberries) could lower the risk against Alzheimer’s. Researcher’s argue the berry is rich in anti-ageing substances such as anthocyanins.

While evidence already exists, more research is underway exploring if the consumption of raspberries may improve motor control, memory and learning of new tasks in mice and aged rats to strengthen our understanding.

If successful, the research may conclude that the beneficial effects of anthocyanins are not only protective against illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, but may improve neurogensis, enhance neuronal signalling capabilities and communication among neurons.

2. For the Joints

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The powerful anti-inflammatory substances found in raspberries may help keep your joints strong and healthy. Researchers provided rats with raspberry extract and found that it reduced inflammation, cartilage damage and bone loss. Not only could this help you after a strenuous workout, but it may even provide a promising treatment for patients suffering from arthritis.

There are over 100 different types of arthritis; this ailment is believed to affect nearly 53 million adults and 300,000 children in USA. It is most predominant among women and occurs more frequently with the ageing process – but that doesn’t mean you are not susceptible to it at any age.

Common symptoms include swelling of the joins, pain, stiffness and a decreased range of motion. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, the inability to do daily activities and make it difficult – impossible in some cases – to walk or climb stairs.

Because raspberries are in the top 10 foods praised for their antioxidant power, they can protect your body against inflammation of the joints and free radicals (molecules that damage cells and organs).

Joseph’s study (2006) explains that people become more susceptible to the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammation as they age. The nutritional properties of berries may help prevent these effects by turning off the inflammation signals which are triggered by cytokines and COX-2s signals. They have similar properties to aspirin, which may bring relief to aching joints and bones.

3. Keep a Healthy Heart

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The heart is responsible for pumping blood around your body. It provides every muscle with vital minerals and nutrients needed for daily survival, as well as carrying away waste which may clog the body. Needless to say, the heart is one muscle you’ll want to keep strong and healthy.

The anthocyanins found in raspberries have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by preventing platelet buildup.

Cassidy (2013) conducted an 18 year study which tracked 93,800 women aged 25 to 42. She argues that her results demonstrate that a regular intake of anthocyanins from berries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32% in young and middle aged women.

Further studies suggest that the potassium found in raspberries support heart health. Antinoro (2014) found that participants in a study who consumed 4,069mg of potassium per day were at a 49% lower risk from ischemic heart disease compared to those who consumed less.

Raspberries also contain salicylic acid and it is believed to have some protective effects which are similar to aspirin. 100g of raspberries contain around 5 mg of salicylic acid, which may prevent heart disease and help those already suffering.

Research has taken a special interest in diets rich in magnesium (as mentioned previously, raspberries are full of it). Magnesium is praised for it’s ability to help promote growth and keep bones healthy; but studies suggest it may play a key role in reducing the incidence of metabolic syndrome, conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

4. Diminish the Risk of Diabetes

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Diabetes is a physical condition which causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Typically, there are two forms – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In 2010, the NHS reported that approximately 3.1 million people aged 16 and over suffer from diabetes in England.

With the enormous rise in food and drinks containing far too much processed and refined sugar, experts have suggested that 1 in 3 people will suffer from diabetes by 2050!

Complications may arise if it is untreated; diabetes and coronary heart disease are closely related and they can cause permanent damage to your vision, kidneys, nervous system and digestion. In severe cases, amputation is necessary due to reduced blood circulation in the patients leg or foot.

Those suffering from type-2 diabetes may find that raspberries provide numerous benefits. Raspberries have the ability to activate the production of adiponectin in the body.

Adiponectin is a protein within humans and is responsible for the regulation of glucose levels as well as helping in the process of breaking down fatty acids. This helps prevent high levels of undigested sugar being circulated in the bloodstream.

Raspberries naturally contain low levels of sugar, so they also avoid causing a significant spike of blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, thereby preventing complications.

5. A Powerhouse for Fighting Cancer

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MacMillan Cancer Support explains that approximately one in three people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. While cancer can occur at any age, the risk increases along with age. Advancements in medical technology now means more people are detecting cancer at an early age and treatment begins to lower the risk of death. Your lifestyle is a big factor in determining whether you develop cancer.

Cancer may develop in the body because of harmful chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and are able to cause damage to cells. Damaged, cancerous cells begin to develop and spread, leading to tumours. Research is ongoing, but it is hypothesised that regular consumption of foods rich in antioxidants such as raspberries may help defend the body against these free radicals.

Raspberries are a great source of vitamin C and dietary fibre. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research’s second export report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective (2007), foods rich in vitamin C may protect the oesophagus from developing cancerous cells, while dietary fibre may decrease one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer.

It has been reported raspberries contain a high concentration of ellagic acid, and medical research indicates this may aid the body in reducing the risk of developing cancer as well as slowing down the progression of already formed tumours.

Research conducted at the Hollings Cancer Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina demonstrates the relationship between ellagic acid and cancer. These laboratory studies suggest the phytochemical components of raspberries may hold the ability to prevent cancers of the skin, bladder, lungs, oesophagus and breasts. The ellagic acid appears to utilize several different cancer-fighting methods and they act as an antioxidant which helps slow the reproduction of cancerous cells.

Ellagic acid deactivates cancer-causing chemicals in the body. A study in cell cultures found that ellagic acid can act against substances that allow tumours to form new blood vessels. Rich in anthocyanins, raspberries may play a pivotal role in repairing damaged cells, meaning regular consumption may aid against the development of cancerous cells.

The phytonutrients help keep healthy cells from becoming cancerous. Phytonutrients found in raspberries are reported to potentially change the signals that may cause cells to become cancerous. Research exploring existing cancerous cells demonstrate that the phytonutrients, like ellagitannins in raspberries, may send signals to cause death to already infected cells (apoptosis). This signalling is thought to involve the activity of the p53 protein which is believed to suppress tumours.

6. Watching Your Waistline

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Sedghi (2014) reports that when using the Body Mass Index (BMI), there has been a sharp increase over the past 20 years of people being outside the normal range. 67% of men and 57% of women in the UK are classified as overweight or obese according to their BMI, while 26% of boys and 29% of girls are overweight or obese according to their BMI. This worrying trend is thought to only increase worldwide due to a rise in consumption of overly refined sugar and carbohydrates found in processed food.

Our nutrition overview of raspberries show that it is a low calorie, high fibre fruit. Consuming raspberries make you feel full for longer and may play a vital role in weight management by helping people to eat less food. Fibre helps to both reduce hunger and the number of calories people’s bodies can absorb. Sometimes referred to as “nature’s candy”, it’s low sugar content but succulent taste may help satisfy your sweet tooth!

When trying to lose weight you should also alter your diet to a healthier one and eat more of these foods.

Can Raspberries Cause Any Detrimental Effects to our Bodies?

As the saying goes, “everything in moderation”. A handful of raspberries throughout the week will bring more good than harm. Raspberries are rich in vitamins and minerals which are of vital importance in maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle.

There are some factors to consider when deciding what kind of raspberries you buy. The Environmental Working Group are responsible for producing a list every year of the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue. According to their list, raspberries are number 21 on the list of produce.

The EWG recommends you purchase an organic brand of raspberries as it ensures a lower risk of pesticide exposure. However, if you cannot find or cannot afford an organic brand, do not worry: the nutritional benefits which come from consuming raspberries outweigh the risks of not eating the fruit at all. Just make sure you wash the raspberries thoroughly under a tap.

Raspberries produced in supplement form have risen in the past few years with ongoing research exploring their effects on the human body. Raspberry Ketones claim to be able to help with weight loss and combat obesity. However, it must be made clear that there have been no human studies to date which prove the effectiveness of this supplement. While the extracts may provide some benefits, stimulants such as hoodia and caffeine are often added, which may do more harm than good.

It goes without saying that a low-calorie & high nutrient food like raspberries, along with an overall healthy diet and regular exercise can lead to weight loss; but the ability of a concentrated formula such as supplements to aid in weight loss is met with uncertainty.

The importance lies in consuming real, whole foods. By doing so, you reap the nutritional benefits of the whole fruit which not only leads to a healthy body, but may also prevent diseases as discussed above. A diet filled with variety of individual, nutritious foods is key to a healthy life, and it certainly is beneficial to include raspberries to your diet!

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