Red, juicy and scented, raspberries are fruits that make everyone happy. The first traces of raspberries in history date back to the 1st century BC, when, according to the documents, raspberries were collected on the slopes of Mote Ida by the inhabitants of the city of Troy. Nowadays raspberries are very popular fruits, also for their versatility in the kitchen, since they can be eaten alone, added to smoothies or yogurt, or even processed to produce juices or jams. And then raspberries are full of beneficial properties for health, which makes them even tastier! Today let's take a closer look at the healthy action of raspberries, based on the most recent scientific research.
Raspberries are rich in vitamins, such as group B and vitamins C and K, and mineral salts, such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and manganese. Just think that 100 grams of raspberries provide more than 50% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, folic acid and manganese (Cosme et al, Foods, 2022). Not only that, raspberries are also rich in fibers, which improve intestinal transit and help keep blood sugar and cholesterol under control, and contain unsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic and linolenic acids, useful for protecting the health of the cardiovascular system (Cosme et al , Foods, 2022). Raspberries also provide precious antioxidant substances, such as ellagic acid and anthocyanins, which give these fruits their intense red color (Cosme et al, Foods, 2022).
Raspberries, nourishment for the brain and mood
Raspberries, being rich in antioxidants, are also beneficial for the brain. In fact, these fruits help to counteract the damage of free radicals and help reduce the risk of neurodegeneration (Bonyadi et al, Sci Rep, 2022). There is a diet, called the MIND diet, very similar to the Mediterranean Diet but which includes berries, including raspberries. Even moderate adherence to the MIND diet has been observed to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (Morris et al, Alzheimers Dement, 2015). But raspberries are also useful for supporting mood and counteracting depression. Animal studies have shown that raspberry intake helps reduce symptoms of depression by improving appetite and the desire to exercise. It is believed that this beneficial action is due to the ability of raspberries to counteract inflammation and free radical damage and to increase the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that stimulates the survival of neurons and synapses and which tends to decrease in case of depression (Chen et al, Biomed Res Int, 2022).
Raspberries for liver and microbiota health
An unregulated diet alters the intestinal microbiota, with a consequent imbalance in the production of pro-inflammatory bacteria. Not only that, an altered microbiota no longer adequately protects against pathogens and can pave the way for liver problems. Taking raspberries has been shown to reverse this process, supporting the proliferation of good intestinal bacteria, strengthening the intestinal barrier and protecting the liver. In fact, a reduction in transaminase values has been observed, which, when elevated, indicate liver inflammation or damage. Not only that, the intake of raspberries reduced hepatic triglycerides and pro-inflammatory substances (Zogona et al, Food Funct, 2023).
Raspberries for heart health
The antioxidants in raspberries, especially ellagic acid, have been shown to protect the endothelium, which is the lining of blood vessels and the heart, by counteracting inflammation and free radical damage (Burton Freeman et al, Adv Nutr, 2016). Not only that, raspberries help keep blood pressure and blood sugar under control, partially inhibiting the absorption of glucose introduced with the diet (Burton Freeman et al, Adv Nutr, 2016).
Raspberries in all seasons
Fresh raspberries are absolutely delicious but what to do when it's not in season? Don't worry, there are frozen raspberries that preserve their properties. In fact, studies have shown that frozen raspberries maintain their antioxidant content (Cosme et al, Foods, 2022 - Mullen et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2002). Then there are raspberry-based juices and jams. In this case, the processes to which the fruits are subjected partially lose the content of beneficial substances. For example, the process that leads to the production of jam causes a loss of around 40% of phenolic and anthocyanin compounds (Cosme et al, Foods, 2022). The only exception, in this case, is provided by ellagic acid, the availability of which increases in processed products such as jams, since the manufacturing process to which raspberries are subjected is able to better extract these antioxidants (Cosme et al , Foods, 2022). Therefore, these products obtained by processing raspberries can also be considered interesting.
Raspberries, synergies to promote and combinations to avoid
Studies have shown that the synergy provided by the combination of raspberries and blackberries is highly antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and capable of protecting the heart muscle from damage caused by a diet high in sugar and fat. This action was greater than that provided by the fruits taken individually (Najjar et al, Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2022). Instead, a food combination that should be limited is that given by raspberries, and in general by fruits rich in anthocyanins, and cow's milk or yogurt. It is a complex and much debated topic, but, as various studies show, this type of food combination reduces, at least in part, the antioxidants of berries (Oliveira et al, Food Chem, 2015). Other studies do not show an impact on the antioxidant content. In any case, while waiting for science to shed some light and in order to take all the antioxidants contained in raspberries, when we want to have a breakfast yoghurt or a smoothie with berries we can certainly use plant based alternatives, such as almond or rice milk, or soy yoghurt.