Of a beautiful ruby red color and pleasantly scented, so delicious that they manage to conquer anyone, taken as breakfast, mid-morning snack or dessert, we are talking about raspberries. Now the shelves of supermarkets are overflowing with berries, among which raspberries stand out, so it is precisely the case to take advantage of them and never miss them. You can add raspberries to fruit salad, morning yogurt and even smoothies, it's always time for these juicy fruits. And their strength is that they are also a valuable source of health properties. Today we are talking about the benefits that raspberries can bring to our health, based on scientific studies.
Raspberries are packed with fibers and nutrients, such as vitamins, especially vitamin C and vitamin K, minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium, but also polysaccharides and a practically unique composition as regards antioxidants, mainly represented by anthocyanins and ellagitannins, which give raspberries the properties we will discuss in the following (Yang et al, Molecules, 2022).
Raspberries for liver health
Raspberries contain substances of the polysaccharide family capable of protecting the liver from the damage that an excessive accumulation of fats inside the liver cells can cause (Yang et al, Molecules, 2022). Not only that, raspberries help reduce the risk of liver injury caused, for example, by carcinogenic chemicals (Liu et al, Nutr Metab, 2010).
Raspberries against free radicals and cellular degeneration
Raspberries are antioxidant and help reduce the damage caused by free radicals, making the body more resistant. Among the antioxidants contained in raspberries we can also mention zeaxanthin, which has an important role in protecting eyesight from the damage of blue light, counteracting the onset of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (Tudor et al, Molecules, 2020). In addition to what has just been reported, raspberries are able to support the body's natural defenses to counteract cellular degeneration, with a protective action especially on the liver demonstrated by animal studies (Yang et al, Molecules, 2022). Finally, animal studies have shown that, thanks to these aforementioned actions, raspberries contribute to prolonging life span (Song et al, Food Funct, 2020).
Raspberries, obesity and blood sugar
The antioxidants in raspberries are able to influence the digestion of starches ingested with food, stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas to secrete insulin and improve insulin sensitivity. The effect of this action is that raspberries help to keep postprandial blood sugar under control. Not only that, raspberries are also useful in combating obesity. In fact, the intake of berries, and therefore also of raspberries, within a high-fat diet has been shown to reduce weight gain and the accumulation of fat in the liver and to increase sensitivity to insulin compared to those who had instead taken the same diet but without the addition of berries (Heyman et al, J Nutr Metab, 2014).
Raspberries are characterized by an important anti-inflammatory action, useful, for example, in case of conditions such as arthritis (Chen et al, Biomed Res Int, 2022). Not only that, raspberries taken through the diet have also demonstrated an important anti-inflammatory action in case of colitis and ulcerative colitis (Bibi et al, J Nutr, 2018).
Raspberries for the well-being of the cardiovascular system
Raspberries can also bring benefits to the health of the heart and blood vessels. In fact, studies have shown that moderate consumption of raspberries, as well as their juice, can help prevent arteriosclerosis and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride values (Suh et al, Food Funct, 2011). Not only that, the consumption of raspberries has been shown to protect the aorta from the damage of an unbalanced diet, preserving its elasticity (Najjar et al, Curr Dev Nutr, 2022).
Raspberries for good mood and brain health
These small red fruits are also an elixir… of good mood! In fact, as scientific studies have shown, raspberry extracts also help fight depression. This effect can be traced back to the property of raspberries to reduce neuroinflammation and to increase the presence of cerebral neurotrophic factor. The latter is a protein, present everywhere in the central nervous system and crucial for the development of the nervous system itself and for neuroplasticity. A decrease in this protein is also associated with depression (Chen et al, Biomed Res Int, 2022). The ability to counteract neuroinflammation is also considered useful in the fight against Alzheimer's. Not only that, studies have observed that ellagic acid, present in raspberries, helps stimulate the removal of toxic aggregates of beta amyloid proteins, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's (Burton Freeman et al, Adv Nutr, 2016).
Raspberries, and when it is not time for the fresh fruit?
Given all the properties of raspberries, one would really want to taste them all year round. But what to do when it's not the season? No problem, we can use frozen raspberries. In fact, studies have shown that the amount of antioxidants, and anthocyanins in particular, remains almost unchanged even if the fruits are frozen (Mullen et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2002).