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Berries have a reserved spot of their own in every other list of foods beneficial for our health. Lucky for us, they appeal to our taste buds as much as they do to our health. And to our delight, they come in a wide range of colours and types to choose from- blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, to name a few. But the title of “the king of berries” goes to the rarer black raspberry.
Black raspberry (Rubus leucodermis and Rubus occidentalis) is a fruit native to America. Often mistook and overshadowed by blackberry, this fruit is less known. But we will change that soon. Here is all you need to know about black raspberries, starting with why should know about it.
Nutritional facts of Black Raspberry:
Black raspberries have an impressive nutritional portfolio, even amongst the other berries.
- These are almost calorie free with 100g of the fruit containing only 52 calories, out of which only about five calories are fat and the remaining being carbohydrates.
- It has high amounts of fiber and can provide up to 26% of our required daily intake.
- Black raspberries are extremely rich in vitamin C.
- These are a reliable source of vitamin B, vitamin K, folic acid, copper and iron.
- They are the best source of a chemical substance called anthocyanin, a flavonoid derivative. Fruits and flowers contain pigments called flavonoids which are responsible for the rich colours such as purple, red and blue. As a rule of thumb, more the colour, healthier the fruit or vegetable. Black raspberries are as you can see, the best in this department. Anthocyanin has very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- They have high overall levels of phenolic compounds (such as ellagic acid, gallic acid and rutin) when compared to the other berries. Phenolic compounds prevent cellular damage because of free radicals and are inflammatory.
7 Health Benefits of Black Raspberry:
This fruit has a multitude of health benefits as a consequence of its loaded nutritional package.
Anti-cancerous in nature:
Raspberries are known as breast cancer and cervical cancer-combating foods. Studies show that both red and black raspberries inhibit the growth of tumours in oral, breast, colon and prostate cells in the human body. Black raspberry is also considered pro-apoptotic. Apoptosis is the process by which our body removes unwanted cells, and pro-apoptotic foods are those who promote this.
Research suggests that ellagic acid is responsible for the fruit’s anti-cancerous effects. The ellagic acid which is a type of phenolic acid is proven to be antimutagenic and. Raspberries are one of the best dietary sources of this compound too.
Antioxidants tend to decrease the risk of cancer, and the abundance of anthocyanins and Vitamin C in black raspberries adds to its anti-cancerous effect.
As mentioned earlier, this fruit is an excellent source of antioxidants. Black raspberries have been found to have three times more antioxidants than blueberries and have the highest power in the berry group. They have more antioxidants than vitamin C which is known for its antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect the body cells from being damaged by free radicals that can be formed due to exposure to smoking, pollution, radiation etc. They cleanse the body by removing these radicals. They reduce the effect of toxins on the liver which plays a vital role in our health. Antioxidants also lower the risk of infections and some forms of cancer. They help strengthen the overall immunity of the body. These also slow down the effects of ageing on the body, especially the skin.
Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (abbreviated NSAIDs) form a class of drugs that reduce pain, decrease fever and inflammation, aspirin, ibuprofen being the common examples. These work by inhibiting chemicals called cyclooxygenases which are released by the body in response to pain. Raspberries show effects similar to drugs that are cyclooxygenases inhibiting in nature.
In studies conducted on controlled groups, it was also realised that subjects that were given this fruit had exhibited a decrease in several pro-inflammatory cytokines which cause ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis (which causes inflammation of digestive tract) can escalate to colon cancer too. Experiments conducted on rats showed a decrease in the colon cell inflammation that closely resembles alcoholic exposure in humans.
Research suggests that anthocyanins improve eyesight by boosting blood circulation in retinal capillaries and decreasing the chance of macular degeneration of cells. Macular degeneration is caused by deterioration of the central portion of the retina and is one of the leading causes of vision loss and is currently not curable.
Night vision is said to be improved too though the exact reason is yet to be pinpointed. Studies are being conducted in this direction.
Black raspberries can inhibit LDL oxidation. LDL, which stands for Low-Density Lipoprotein, is commonly referred as the “bad cholesterol” of the body. This is because LDL collects and forms blockages in the walls of blood vessels which can lead to clots and even heart attack. The fruits help combat high blood pressure or hypertension and promote the health of the cardiovascular system and the endothelial function. Endothelial function is responsible for the vascular contraction and relaxation as well as blood clotting and blood platelet adhesion. Anthocyanin also contributes to decreasing blood pressure, more so than the other flavonoids.
Oxidative damage is one of the major factors of brain damage and memory impairment. Intake of high and powerful antioxidants, especially like anthocyanins has been found to decrease the rate of cognitive decline and by extension, conditions such as the Alzheimer’s. Not just that, black raspberry is found to boost cognitive functioning, improved learning and memory function in those with anthocyanin intake in their diet compared to those who do not consume it.
Saving the best one for the last! The above-mentioned health benefits aside, you can pack your meal with pies, waffles, low-fat creamy shakes or jams and still expect to lose some weight should you choose your berries right.
Black Raspberries regulate blood sugar, boost metabolism and add fiber to the diet. The high fiber content keeps the hunger at bay for longer. Black raspberries decrease the cholesterol levels in blood and hence decrease body fat in addition to the various health benefits of antioxidants, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids. Antioxidants also promote detoxification and weight loss in their own accord.
Caring for your berries:
Black raspberries like most berries are highly perishable and have a low shelf life. They rot faster in hot or stuffy surroundings. They are delicate and require some care.
- Berries are not to be washed till before using them.
- They should be stored immediately preferably in shallow, closed containers and are to be used within two days.
- Frozen berries can be consumed up to 4-5 months. To freeze berries, they are to be washed and dried gently and placed in a freezer bag or container. They can be spread on a cookie tray and frozen separately before placing them in a container.
- Adding sugar is known to preserve the flavour for longer. Frozen berries or jams are available in the market.
Black raspberries vs blackberries:
Black raspberry is commonly confused with its better-known cousin blackberry. To the extent that you might find articles that show pictures of one instead of the other or even ingredients lists. While blackberries are healthy too, they are nowhere close to the level of antioxidants and anthocyanins present in black raspberries and hence do not have the same health benefits like this one. So differentiating these two calls some attention.
They are similar in appearance, with both belonging to the same (rose) family and genus. Not that it requires pointing out, but they are both black. They resemble closely in their shape as well because they are both made of drupelets. Drupelets are small subdivisions on the outer layer of the fruit common to berries like in raspberries. But that is where the similarities end.
Blackberries are large, about 1 to 1 1/2 inch long with larger drupelets and have white cores or centres. The shrub has largely curved thorns, and the fruit has a visible stem even after being plucked. They also appear more glossy than black raspberries. Blackberries have a higher content of natural sugars and are sweeter.
Black raspberries are smaller, almost the size of one’s thumbnail and are purplish black in colour. This plant’s thorns are not as prominent as that of the former, and the berry easily and cleanly comes off the bush. It is hollow inside (where it has been plucked off) like the other raspberries. The drupelets are not too protruding, they are smaller and look smoother. These may have slight red pigmentation along with its deep purple colour. A black raspberry tastes more fruity and has less tart than the other berries.
Now that you know how to spot a black raspberry be sure to buy this wonder fruit the next time you see it.