(NaturalNews) Raspberries are much more than just a delicious taste of summer, the fruit also packs a powerful nutritional punch that can fend-off disease while keeping the body fit and strong. Teeming with a variety of important nutrients - and sporting a low glycemic index rating - raspberries are an almost perfect food that should be enjoyed readily and often.
Outstanding health benefits
Truth be told, most people don't need much encouragement to dive into a bowl of fresh, organic raspberries. And yet, the advantages of the fruit extend far beyond a flavorful treat. Raspberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, flavonols (such as quercetin and kaempferol), flavanols, hydroxybenzoic acids (including ellagic acid) and resveratrol, to name just a few. A majority of these phytonutrients not only protect cellular health, but also regulate enzymes that trigger inflammation, thereby reducing the risk of chronic ailments like obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Of special consideration is ellagic acid, a compound that displays remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, the George Mateijan Foundation notes:
"[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. But new research in this area has shown that the anti-cancer benefits of raspberries may extend beyond their basic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory aspects. Phytonutrients in raspberries may also 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)."
Not all raspberries are created equal
Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found that certain types of Rubus raspberries demonstrated "strikingly different phytochemistry and biological activities." The team discovered that extracts of Rubus jamaicensis "exhibited the greatest potential to inhibit cancer cell growth, inhibiting colon, breast, lung, and gastric human tumor cells by 50, 24, 54 and 37 percent, respectively." And while all raspberries provide exceptional amounts of phytonutrients, Rubus jamaicensis is the champion among related species for imparting the strongest protection against cancer.
Additionally, a natural phenolic compound in red raspberry shows potential in reducing the incidence of obesity. Scientists of the Nutrition & Functional Food Research Team in Seoul, Korea fed raspberry ketone (RK) to male mice, which subsequently prevented weight gain from a high fat diet. The success of raspberry ketone is due to the increased secretion of adiponectin -- a hormone that helps to block fatty deposits. The team believes "RK holds great promise as an herbal medicine since its biological activities alter the lipid metabolism."
Berry ripeness is an important factor as well. According to research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, red raspberries had the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value when fully ripe, and total anthocyanin levels of all raspberry varieties increased in direct relation to advanced stages of maturity.
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.