Raspberries provide an outstanding source of phytonutrients, anthocyanins, flavonoids, stilbenoids, phenolic acids, tannins and lignans. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber, copper, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium. But did you know that raspberry can act as a protective agent against many threatening diseases like cancer or can be a powerful aid for weight loss? Here’s why, they are considered a super-fruit.
1. Fights against Cancer
The anti-cancer benefits of raspberries have long been attributed to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. In animal studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal, and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role in lowering oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, and thereby altering the development or reproduction of cancer cells.
New research in this area also suggests that the anti-cancer benefits of raspberries may extend beyond their basic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory aspects. Phytonutrients in raspberries may be able to change the signals that are sent to potential or existing cancer cells.
In the case of existing cancer cells, phytonutrients like ellagitannins in raspberries may be able to decrease cancer cell numbers by sending signals that encourage the cancer cells to being a cycle of programmed cell death (apoptosis). In the case of potentially but not yet cancerous cells, phytonutrients in raspberries may be able to trigger signals that encourage the non-cancerous cells to remain non-cancerous.
2. Anti-oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The diversity of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in raspberries are remarkable. The vast majority of these phytonutrients are provided in amounts that are significant in terms of protecting us against the dangers of oxidative stress and the dangers of excessive inflammation. By helping to scavenge free radical molecules, and by helping to regulate the activity of enzymes that could trigger unwanted inflammation, the phytonutrients in raspberries help lower our risk of chronic diseases that are associated with oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. These diseases include obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.
The ellagic acid found in raspberries are an anti-inflammatory compound. This phytonutrient has been shown to help prevent over activity of certain pro-inflammatory enzymes (including cyclo-oxygenase 2, or COX-2) as well as their overproduction.
3. Obesity and Blood Sugar Benefits
The research on raspberry being an effective tool for weight loss is relatively new. In case of obesity, two compounds in raspberries have received special focus: raspberry ketone (rheosmin) and a type of flavonoid called tiliroside.
Raspberry ketone is a compound that naturally occurs in raspberries, but is by not exclusive to this fruit. Raspberry ketone naturally occurs in a wide variety of plants, although not usually in such sizable amounts as found in raspberries. Plants like Turkish rhubarb and larch, yew, maple, and pine trees also contain some amounts of raspberry ketone.
The chemical name for raspberry ketone is 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl) butan-2-one. It has been included on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) since 1965 and falls under the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list and is an approved food additive. The primary use of rheosmin as a food additive has been for flavor and aroma.
Rheosmin may be able to decrease the risk of obesity and a fatty liver symptom by increasing enzyme activity, oxygen consumption and heat production in certain type of fat cells. Additionally, Rheosmin can decrease pancreatic lipase, a fat-digesting enzyme released by pancreas. This decrease in enzyme activity may result in less digestion and absorption of fat.
The rheosmin found in raspberries can increase metabolism in our fat cells by increasing enzyme activity, oxygen consumption, and heat production in certain types of fat cells. By boosting fat metabolism in this way, it’s less likely to deposit fat in our fat cells, and also use up some of the fat that is stored there. By improving our fat cell metabolism, we may also be able to reduce the number of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules that are produced by our fat cells. As a result, we may be less likely to experience some of the inflammation-based problems that typically accompany obesity.
In addition to these benefits, rheosmin found in raspberries can also decrease activity of a fat-digesting enzyme called pancreatic lipase that is produced by our pancreas. By decreasing the activity of this enzyme, we may digest and absorb less fat.
Scientists have also focused on the obesity-related benefits of a second compound called Tiliroside, a type of flavonoid that is found in many plants of the rose family, including rose hips, strawberries, and raspberries. In preliminary studies, tiliroside has been show to activate a special hormone called adiponectin that is produced by our fat cells.
In obese persons with type 2 diabates, adiponectin is not produced in sufficient amounts or, if adequately produced, remains too inactive. This inadequacy of adiponectin in obese persons with type 2 diabetes is a key problem for regulation of their blood sugar and blood fats. By activating adiponectin, the tiliroside in raspberries can help improve insulin balance, blood sugar balance, and blood fat balance in obese persons with type 2 diabetes.
However, in studies to date, there is no indication that raspberry tiliroside will stop weight gain or prevent fat accumulation. But it may be able to help prevent unwanted consequences of too much body fat and compromised regulation of blood sugar, blood insulin, and blood fats.
Another aspect of raspberry phytonutrients is its ability to block activity of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase which is a starch-digesting enzyme. When it becomes active in the digestive tract, it increases the breakdown of starches into sugars. These sugars get absorbed up into the bloodstream and can cause excessively high levels of blood sugar following a meal. (This process is called postprandial hyperglycemia) By blocking activity of alpha-glucosidase, raspberry extracts may make it possible for persons with type 2 diabetes (or obese persons experiencing problems with blood sugar regulation) to better manage their blood sugar levels.
Guide To Buying Delish Raspberries
.Buy Organic raspberries: They are significantly higher in total anti-oxidant capacity than non-organic raspberries.
.Purchase Ripe: You’ll get significantly more antioxidant support by purchasing raspberries that are fully ripe. Recent studies have measured the total phenolic content, total flavonoid content, and anthocyanin content of raspberries harvested at varying stages of ripeness (from 50% to 100% maturity) and greatest overall antioxidant benefits were associated with full ripeness of the berries.
.Refrigerate: Although it’s possible for raspberries to ripen after harvest, this fruit can be highly perishable and can mold quite easily at room temperature. So your most risk-free approach for getting optimal antioxidant benefits from raspberries is to purchase them at full maturity, keep them refrigerated at all times at temperatures between 35-39°F (2°-4°C), and consume them very quickly (within 1 to 2 days after purchase).