Wonderfully delicious, bright red raspberry is among the most popular berries to relish! They are rich sources of health-promoting plant-derived chemicals, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
Botanically, raspberry is a small shrub belonging to the family of Rosaceae, of the genus; Rubus. It is native to Europe but today widely cultivated in many temperate regions all over the world under supervised farms. Poland, the United States, Germany, and Chile are some of the prominent growing areas of raspberries.
Botanical name: Rubus idaeus.
Several different sub-species of raspberries exist. However, the most popular commercial cultivar in practice is red-raspberry, which is the result of hybridization between R. idaeus (European raspberry) and R. strigosus (American raspberry) types.
|Rubus idaeus plant.
Photo courtesy: mat_the_w (flikr.com)
Technically, the whole berry is an aggregate of small "drupe" fruits arranged in a circular fashion around a central, hollow space. Each little drupelet is composed of a juicy pulp unit with a single, tiny, white-yellow seed.
Raspberries taste varies by cultivar that ranges from sweet to acidic; a feature that is quite similar to strawberries.
Raspberry has a conical shape, weighs about 2-4 g, and contains 80-100 drupelets arranged in concentric whorls. While the most common R. idaeus cultivar is red-pink, several hybrids do come in a range of colors including black, purple, orange, yellow, and white (colorless).
Delicious raspberries are low in calories and fats. Nonetheless, they are a rich source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. 100 g berries hold just 52 calories but provide 6.5 g of fiber (16% of the daily recommended intake).
Raspberries have significantly high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid (tannin), quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidin, pelargonidin, catechins, kaempferol, and salicylic acid. Scientific studies show that the antioxidant compounds in these berries play a potential role in the cure of cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute extracted from raspberries. A teaspoonful of xylitol carries just 9.6 calories as compared to 15 calories of sugar. Xylitol absorbs into the blood more slowly in the intestines than simple sugar and does not contribute to a high glycemic index. It thus can be helpful for people with diabetes to regulate wide fluctuations of blood sugar levels.
Fresh raspberries are excellent sources of vitamin-C, which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g berries provide 26.2 mg or about 47% of DRI of vitamin C. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation, and scavenge harmful free-radicals.
Raspberry contains anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamins A and E. In addition to the antioxidants mentioned above, it is also rich in several other health-promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and ß-carotene, albeit in small amounts. Altogether, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
Raspberry has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 4900 µmol TE per 100 grams, crediting it among the top-ranked ORAC fruits.
They contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cells and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is utilized by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is essential in the production of red blood cells.
They are rich in the B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin K. The berries contain very good amounts of vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors and help the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.65 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||6.5 g||16%|
|Vitamin K||7.8 µg||6.5%|
|Delicious red raspberries!
Photo courtesy: La Grande Farmers market
Photo courtesy: La Grande Farmers market
Raspberries are available year-round in the markets. However, the fresh Rubus berry season lasts from June until October, when they are plentiful.
R. idaeus crop is ready for harvesting when their berries turn deep color (red, black, purple, or golden yellow, depending on the species and cultivar) and easily come off the receptacle; at the stage when they are said to ripen and the sweetest.
In the store, select berries that feature shiny, deep red with attached green caps at the top end, firm, plump, and free of sand and mold. Avoid those that appear dull, sunken, or flattened and with mold, bruised, or discolored patches.
Raspberries perish early, they should only be purchased a few days before their use. Just before storing it inside the refrigerator, sort out damaged or bruised berries so that they do not spoil others. Place them in a wide bowl or spread out on a paper towel on a plate, then cover the whole plate with plastic wrap.
Raspberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Use them as early as possible, unless otherwise frozen and stored in the freezer compartment.
To wash, dip them in cold water in a large bowl for a few seconds and swish gently a few times to remove any sand and insecticide residues. Gently pat them dry using a paper towel or cloth. This method will help them bring back to normal room temperature and also enhance their flavor and taste. Then remove the stems and caps, if any, by simply pinching them off with fingers or using a paring knife.
Here are some serving tips:
|Raspberry muffins! Photo: leszekleszczynski
Fresh raspberry sections are a great addition to fruit or green salad.
They can be a great snack to enjoy in between meals.
Raspberry has also been used in fruit-enriched pastries as in popular Danish pastries.
They are a popular addition to dairy products, as in strawberry flavored ice creams, milkshakes, smoothies, and a href="yogurt.html">yogurt.
Raspberry may cause serious allergic reactions in some sensitized individuals. Some of the most common symptoms include swelling and redness of mouth, lips, and tongue, eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity, and insomnia. Individuals who suspect an allergy to these fruits may want to avoid them. (Medical disclaimer).
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Further reading and Resources:
Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk (Link opens in new window).