Raspberries can range in color with each color berry having a unique composition of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions.
Known as nature’s candy, wild raspberries have been gathered for consumption by humans for thousands of years. With their rich color, sweet juicy taste and antioxidant power, it is no wonder raspberries remain one of the world’s most consumed berries.
Raspberries can range in color from the popular red and black varieties to purple, yellow or golden. Each color berry has a unique composition ofvitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This article will address the health benefits of the most widely consumed red raspberry.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of the raspberries and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more raspberries into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming raspberries.
Possible health benefits of consuming raspberries
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 as well as decreasing the delay in cognitive ability related to aging.
A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition associated the intake of flavonoid-rich foods like raspberries with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stated that even small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial.
One flavonoid in particular, anthocyanins, have been shown to suppress 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, PhD, 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 tracking 93,600 women aged 25 to 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% in young and middle-aged women.”4
The potassium in raspberries supports heart health as well. In one study, participants who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 mg per day).8
Raspberries contain powerful antioxidants that work against free radicals, inhibiting tumor growth and decreasing inflammation in the body. Those same potent polyphenols that protect against heart disease also help ward off or slowcancer many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon.9
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, lipids 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 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 decreasing 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 of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks for 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 enhances 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 raspberries provides 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.6
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.7
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.
Nutritional breakdown of raspberries
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of raspberries (about 123 grams) contains 64 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 0.8 grams of fat, and 15 grams of carbohydrate (including 8 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar).
Eating one cup of raw raspberries will provide 54% of your vitamin C needs, 12% of vitamin K, 6% of folate, 5% of vitamin E, iron, and potassium, and 41% of manganese needs for the day as well as lesser amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper.
Raspberries contain the antioxidants alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline.
Raspberries are also a powerful source of polyphenols such as anthocyanin, flavonols and ellagitannins, which decrease oxidative damage from free radicals and have shown potential in animal and human studies for preventing or reducing risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
How to incorporate more raspberries into your diet
Raspberries are available fresh, frozen, freeze-dried and in jellies, syrups and jams. Most raspberry jellies, spreads, juices and wine have added sugars, which tack on additional calories. When looking for jellies or jams, go for all-fruit spreads without the added sweeteners and fillers. Make sure to check the label of frozen and dried raspberries, which may also added sugars.
People who tend to eat at least 3 servings of berries per week see the most benefits. The best way to eat raspberries is fresh, right out of your hand (after washing of course)!
Here are some other tips to help increase your raspberry consumption:
Keep a bag of frozen raspberries on hand for adding to smoothies and oatmeal.
Possible health risks of consuming raspberries
The Environmental Working Group produces a list each year of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue. Raspberries are number 27 on the list of produce that the EWG suggests that you buy in the organic version to ensure a lower risk of pesticide exposure. But don’t worry if you can’t find or afford organic; the nutritional benefit of eating conventionally grown (non-organic) produce far outweighs the risk of not eating produce at all.
Of note, raspberries in supplement form are also being studied for their ability to help with weight loss and combat obesity. Research remains in the early stages, and there have been no human studies to date to prove the effectiveness of supplements like raspberry ketones and extracts, which often have stimulants like hoodia and caffeine added.
There is no doubt that incorporating low-calorie, high nutrient foods like raspberries in accordance with an overall healthy diet will support weight loss, but the ability of concentrated formulas in the form of a supplement to help with weight loss is uncertain at best.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.