Wonderfully delicious, bright red raspberry is among the most popular berries to relish! They are rich sources of health-promoting plant-derived chemicals, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
Botanically, raspberry is a small shrub belonging to the family of Rosaceae, of the genus; Rubus. It is native to the Europe but today widely cultivated in many temperate regions all over the world under supervised farms. Poland, United States, Germany, and Chile are some of the prominent growing areas of raspberries.
Botanical name: Rubus idaeus.
Several different sub-species of raspberries exist. However, the most popular commercial cultivar in practice is, red-raspberry, which is the result of hybridization between R. idaeus (European raspberry) and R. strigosus (American raspberry) types.
Technically, the whole berry is an aggregate of small “drupe” fruits, arranged in circular fashion around a hollow, central cavity. Each little drupelet composes of juicy pulp with a single, tiny white-yellow seed. Raspberries have a taste that varies by cultivar that ranges from sweet to acidic; a feature that is quite similar to strawberries.
Raspberry has a conical shape, weighs about 2-4 g and contains 80-100 drupelets arranged in concentric whorls. While the most common type of raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is red-pink in color, several hybrids come in a range of colors including black, purple, orange, yellow and white (colorless).
Health benefits of raspberries
Delicious raspberries are low in calories and fats. Nonetheless, they are a rich source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. 100 g berries hold just 52 calories but provide 6.5 g of fiber (16% of daily recommended intake).
Raspberries have significantly high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid (tannin), quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidin, pelargonidin, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid. Scientific studies show that the antioxidant compounds in these berries play a potential role in the cure of cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Xylitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute extracted from raspberries. A teaspoonful of xylitol carries just 9.6 calories as compared to 15 calories of sugar. Xylitol absorbs into the blood more slowly in the intestines than simple sugar and does not contribute to high glycemic index. It thus can be helpful for people with diabetes to regulate wide fluctuations of blood sugar levels.
Fresh raspberries are excellent sources of vitamin-C, which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g berries provide 26.2 mg, or about 47% of DRI of vitamin-C. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin-C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation, and scavenge harmful free-radicals.
Raspberry contains anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin-A and vitamin-E. In addition to the antioxidants mentioned above, it is also rich in several other health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and ß-carotene, albeit in small amounts. Altogether, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
Raspberry has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 4900 µmol TE per 100 grams, crediting it among the top-ranked ORAC fruits.
They contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is utilized by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is essential in the production of red blood cells.
They are rich in the B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin-K. The berries contain very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors and help the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Selection and storage
Raspberries available year-round in the markets, however, they are fresh and plentiful from June until October. In general, the berries are ready for harvesting when they come off the receptacle easily and turn into deep color (red, black, purple, or golden yellow, depending on the species and cultivar); at the stage when they are said to ripen and the sweetest.
In the store, select berries that feature shiny, deep red with attached green caps at the top end, firm, plump, free of sand and mold. Avoid those that appear dull, sunken or flattened and with mold, bruised or discolored patches.
Raspberries perish early; they should only be purchased a few days before their use. Just before storing inside the refrigerator, sort-out damaged or bruised berries so that they should not spoil others. Place them in a wide bowl or spread out on a paper towel on a plate, then cover the whole plate with plastic wrap.
Raspberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Use them as early as possible, unless otherwise frozen and stored in the freezer compartment.
Preparation and serving methods
To wash Raspberries, dip them in cold water in a large bowl for few seconds and swish gently few times to remove any sand and insecticide residues. Gently pat them dry using a paper towel or cloth. This method will help bring them back to normal room temperature, and so also increases their flavor and enrich taste. Then remove the stems and caps, if any, by simply pinching off with fingers or using a paring knife.
Here are some serving tips:
Fresh raspberry sections are a great addition to fruit or green salad.
They can be a great snack to enjoy in between meals.
Raspberry has also been used in fruit-enriched pastries as in popular Danish pastry.
Raspberries are a popular addition to dairy products, as in strawberry flavored ice creams, milkshakes, smoothies, and yogurt.
Raspberry may cause serious allergic reactions in some sensitized individuals. Some of the most common symptoms include swelling and redness of mouth, lips, and tongue, eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity, and insomnia. Individuals who suspect an allergy to these fruits may want to avoid them.