Friday, December 3, 2010

Healthy Fruit: Raspberry

The Raspberry is the edible fruit of a multitude of plant species in the genus Rubus, most of which are in the subgenus Idaeobatus; the name also applies to these plants themselves. Raspberries are perennial. The name originally referred to the European species Rubus idaeus (with red fruit), and is still used as its standard English name.
Raspberries are grown for the fresh fruit market and for commercial processing into individually quick frozen (IQF) fruit, puree, juice, or as dried fruit used in a variety of grocery products. Traditionally, raspberries were a mid-summer crop, but with new technology, cultivars, and transportation, they can now be obtained year-round. Raspberries need ample sun and water for optimal development. While moisture is essential, wet and heavy soils or excess irrigation can bring on Phytophthora root rot which is one of the most serious pest problems facing red raspberry. As a cultivated plant in moist temperate regions, it is easy to grow and has a tendency to spread unless pruned. Escaped raspberries frequently appear as garden weeds, spread by seeds found in bird droppings. The flowers can be a major nectar source for honeybees and other pollinators.
Raspberries are very vigorous and can be locally invasive. They propagate using basal shoots (also known as suckers); extended underground shoots that develop roots and individual plants. They can sucker new canes some distance from the main plant. For this reason, raspberries spread well, and can take over gardens if left unchecked.
The fruit is harvested when it comes off the torus/receptacle easily and has turned a deep color (red, black, purple, or golden yellow, depending on the species and cultivar). This is when the fruits are ripest and sweetest. Excess fruit can be made into raspberry jam or frozen. The leaves can be used fresh or dried in herbal and medicinal teas. They have an astringent flavour, and in herbal medicine are reputed to be effective in regulating menses.
An individual raspberry weighs about 4 g, on average and is made up of around 100 drupelets, each of which consists of a juicy pulp and a single central seed. Raspberry bushes can yield several hundred berries a year. Unlike blackberries and dewberries, a raspberry has a hollow core once it is removed from the receptacle.
Nutrients and health benefits
Raspberries contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants such as anthocyanin pigments linked to potential health protection against several human diseases. The aggregate fruit structure contributes to its nutritional value, as it increases the proportion of dietary fiber, placing it among plant foods with the highest fiber contents known, up to 20% fiber per total weight. Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, with 30 mg per serving of 1 cup (about 50% daily value), manganese (about 60% daily value) and dietary fiber (30% daily value). Contents of B vitamins 1-3, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron are considerable in raspberries.
Raspberries rank near the top of all fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of ellagic acid (from ellagotannins), quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid. Yellow raspberries and others with pale-colored fruits are lower in anthocyanins.
Due to their rich contents of antioxidant vitamin C and the polyphenols mentioned above, raspberries have an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 4900 per 100 grams, including them among the top-ranked ORAC fruits. Cranberries and wild blueberries have around 9000 ORAC units and apples average 2800.
The following anti-disease properties have been isolated in experimental models. Although there are no clinical studies to date proving these effects in humans, preliminary medical research shows likely benefit of regularly consuming raspberries against. Those are inflammation, pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, age-related cognitive decline and degeneration of eyesight with aging.
Raspberries, raw : Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 263.592 kJ (63 kcal) | Carbohydrates 14.7 g
Sugars 5.4 g | Dietary fiber 8.0 g | Fat 0.8 g
Saturated 0 g | monounsaturated 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated 0.5 g | Protein 1.5 g
Vitamin A equiv. 1 μg (0%) | - beta-carotene 120 μg (1%)
Vitamin C 54 mg (90%) | Calcium 3 mg (0%)
Iron 5 mg (40%) | Sodium 1 mg (0%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

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