Small in size, yet big on nutrition, raspberries are essential fare if you want to boost your health and add a little sweet and sour to your summer dishes.
Raspberries are one of the darlings of the health and wellness industry, thanks to their health-boosting vitamin and mineral content that research says can curb obesity and slow down the ageing process. Yet, their powerful properties were known long before scientists put them under the microscope.
These sweet and sour berries grow best in cooler climates, and can be found in nature as red, black, golden and purple, and have been traced back as far as the Palaeolithic era, and even relied on for fertility in Greek mythology.
Thought to have originated in Eastern Asia, raspberries can now be found globally, however, their scientific name, Rubus Idaeus translated as “bramble bush of Ida”, pays homage to their Greek connection and the story of a white berry turned bloody red, after Zeus’ nursemaid, Ida, pricked her finger on a thorny raspberry bush.
Throughout history, the raspberry leaf has been as widely adored as the berry itself, thanks to the leaf’s medicinal properties that are said to soothe digestion, relieve menstrual cramps, while prepare the uterus for a more relaxed labour.
Regardless of their past, raspberries are as much in demand today as they were centuries ago, adding vitamins and minerals to the diet, while giving taste and colour to a variety of dishes. Made into jam, added to smoothies, decadent desserts or eaten alone, the raspberry offers a distinct flavour that appeals to children and grownups alike.
Reach for Organic
Despite their popularity, it’s important to know that not all raspberries are grown equally; so says a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Horticulture, which found that organic raspberries were significantly higher in total antioxidant capacity than their non-organic counterparts. Such antioxidants help to fight free radicals, which lead to accelerated ageing of the body’s cells.
Raspberry Ketones for Weightloss
With raspberry’s reputation as a weightloss wonder, a new market for ketone, a natural phenolic compound that gives berries their fragrance, has prompted keen dieters to stock up on the supplement, thanks to its reported ability to break down body fat more efficiently.
However, while studies on rats do show ketones break down fat more efficiently, to date there have never been trials conducted on humans to prove what’s being claimed is actually true.
Expert gardeners will tell you that growing your own is the only way to truly experience this little fruit, as they lose their colour, texture and flavour just hours after picking.
Raspberry shrubs boast stems that grow to approximately 2.25 metres high, and are best grown in well-drained healthy soil. Planted as soon as the cool weather arrives is a good choice if you want to enjoy crops from summer until late autumn.
How to Select, Prepare and Store
Selecting ripe berries means avoiding those that appear soft and shrivelled, in favour of those that a plump, dry and firm.
Keep fresh berries in an air-and-moisture-tight container, or simply lay them on paper towel. Raspberries are best kept refrigerated.