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 of vitamins, 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
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.
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 slow cancer 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.
On the next page we look at the nutritional breakdown of raspberries, some ideas for how to incorporate more raspberries into your diet and the possible health risks associated with consuming raspberries.