Red raspberries are native to Europe and northern Asia and cultivated in temperate areas worldwide. Most US raspberries are grown in California, Washington and Oregon.
These sweet, tart berries have a short shelf life and are harvested only during the summer and fall months. For these reasons, raspberries are best eaten shortly after purchasing.
This article explores the nutritional value and health benefits of raspberries.
Low-Calorie and Packed With Nutrients
Raspberries boast many nutrients despite being low in calories.
One cup (123 grams) of red raspberries contains:
Raspberries are a great source of fiber, packing 8 grams per 1-cup (123-gram) serving, or 32% and 21% of the RDI for women and men, respectively.
They provide more than half of the RDI for vitamin C, a water-soluble nutrient essential for immune function and iron absorption.
Raspberries also contain small amounts of Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium and zinc.
Potent Antioxidants May Reduce Disease Risk
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help your cells fight and recover from oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is linked to a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses.
Raspberries are high in several powerful antioxidant compounds, including vitamin C, quercetin and ellagic acid.
Compared to other berries, raspberries have a similar antioxidant content as strawberries, but only half as much as blackberries and a quarter as much as blueberries.
A review of animal studies suggests that raspberries and raspberry extracts have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects that may reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
One eight-week study in obese, diabetic mice observed that those fed freeze-dried red raspberry showed fewer signs of inflammation and oxidative stress than the control group.
Another study in mice found that ellagic acid, one of raspberries’ antioxidants, may not only prevent oxidative damage but also repair damaged DNA.
High Fiber and Tannin Content May Benefit Blood Sugar Control
Raspberries are low in carbs and high in fiber, making them a smart choice for anyone watching their carbs.
One cup (123 grams) of raspberries has 14.7 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber, which means they have only 6.7 grams of net digestible carbs per serving.
Raspberries also are unlikely to raise blood sugar levels.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a given food increases your blood sugar. Though the GI for raspberries has not been determined, most berries fall into the low-glycemic category.
Additionally, studies show that raspberries may lower blood sugar and improve insulin resistance.
In animal studies, mice fed freeze-dried red raspberries alongside a high-fat diet had lower blood sugar levels and less insulin resistance than the control group.
The raspberry-fed mice also demonstrated less evidence of fatty liver disease.
Furthermore, raspberries are high in tannins, which block alpha-amylase, a digestive enzyme necessary for breaking down starch.
By blocking alpha-amylase, raspberries may reduce the number of carbs absorbed after a meal, which lessens the impact on your blood sugar.
May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
Raspberries’ high levels of antioxidants may protect against cancer.
Berry extracts — including those of red raspberries — block the growth of and destroy cancer cells in test-tube studies on colon, prostate, breast and oral (mouth) cancer cells.
In one test-tube study, red raspberry extract was shown to kill up to 90% of stomach, colon and breast cancer cells.
Another test-tube study demonstrated that sanguiin H-6 — an antioxidant found in red raspberries — led to cell death in over 40% of ovarian cancer cells.
Animal studies with raspberries also observe protective effects against cancer.
In one 10-week study on mice with colitis, those fed a diet of 5% red raspberries had less inflammation and a lower risk of cancer than the control group.
In another study, red raspberry extract prevented the growth of liver cancers in mice. The risk of tumor development decreased with larger doses of raspberry extract.
Human studies are necessary before raspberries can be conclusively linked to cancer prevention or treatment.
Other Potential Health Benefits
Because raspberries are high in many nutrients and antioxidants, they may provide other health benefits as well.
May Improve Arthritis
Raspberries have anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce symptoms of arthritis.
In one study, rats treated with red raspberry extract had a lower risk of arthritis than rats in the control group. Additionally, those that developed arthritis experienced less severe symptoms than the control rats.
In another study in rats, those given raspberry extract had less swelling and joint destruction than the control group.
Raspberries are believed to protect against arthritis by blocking COX-2, an enzyme responsible for causing inflammation and pain.
May Aid Weight Loss
One cup (123 grams) of raspberries has only 64 calories and 8 grams of fiber. What’s more, it’s made up of more than 85% water. This makes raspberries a filling, low-calorie food.
Additionally, their natural sweetness may help satisfy your sweet tooth.
The chemical substances naturally found in raspberries may also aid weight loss.
In one study, mice were fed a low-fat diet, a high-fat diet or a high-fat diet supplemented with one of eight berries, including raspberries. Mice in the raspberry group gained less weight than mice only on a high-fat diet.
Raspberry ketone supplements are widely promoted for weight loss. However, little research has been conducted on them.
In one animal study, mice fed a high-fat diet and given high doses of raspberry ketones gained less weight than mice in the control group.
The only human-based study on raspberry ketones and weight loss used a supplement containing several other substances, including caffeine, making it impossible to determine whether raspberry ketones were responsible for any positive effects.
While little evidence suggests that raspberry ketone supplements aid weight loss, eating whole, fresh raspberries may help you shed weight.
May Combat Aging
Raspberries are high in antioxidants, which can help reduce signs of aging by fighting free radicals in your body.
Antioxidants have been linked to longer lifespans in various animal models and show anti-aging effects in humans.
Raspberries are also high vitamin C, which is necessary for healthy skin. It may improve collagen production and reverse damage to skin caused by UV rays.
In one eight-week study, aging rats fed a diet with 1% or 2% raspberries showed improved motor functions, including balance and strength.
How to Add Raspberries to Your Diet
Fresh raspberries have a short shelf life, so you should purchase locally grown berries whenever possible and eat them within one to two days.
Since raspberries are harvested during the summer and fall, fresh raspberries will be best at those times.
When choosing raspberries, be sure to avoid any that look crushed or moldy.
Raspberries should be refrigerated in packaging that protects them from damage.
Keep in mind that you can eat raspberries year-round by buying them frozen. These berries are frozen immediately after harvesting. Read labels closely to ensure you’re not getting added sugar.
Raspberries are also a popular ingredient in jams and jellies. Look for all-fruit spreads without added sweeteners.
Here are some ways to incorporate raspberries into your diet: