It’s tough to find perfect raspberries – but when you do, the effect is nearly nirvana. They are slightly soft, thoroughly sweet, with just a tinge of tartness to stimulate the tongue. The entire mouth is filled with flavor from this small gem of a berry. Like I said, though, the good ones are tough to find, because they’re primarily grown on the West Coast in California, and the demand often exceeds supply. Keep an eye out in the late summer months for fresh raspberries in the store, as this is when they are at their peak freshness, and are just off the plant.
Start replacing your deserts with fistfuls of this stuff, as it’s filled with all sorts of goodies to increase your health!
Raspberry History and Culture
Raspberries actually come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. We’re used to seeing the American red raspberry (Rubus Strigosus) when we buy them at the store, but there are plenty of others produced out there. Raspberries are defined by their hollow core, and are the fruits of a perennial bush.
Raspberries have been around for quite some time – since prehistoric times, in fact. They are thought to have originated in Asia, and made their way West long ago with people traveling over the Bering Straight. The raspberry can now be found in most parts of the world, both wild and cultivated. Today, the world consumes about 375,000 tons of raspberries per year, with Russia, Serbia, and the United States being the top producers.
Raspberry Health and Nutrition
Berries, in general, are widely renowned for their antioxidant properties. It packs a huge amount of very unique antioxidants into it in the form of a phytonutrient called tannin. Antioxidants have inherent anticancer properties, as they actively seek out and neutralize free radicals that roam in the body. Free radicals cause oxidative stress to cells, which makes it more difficult for them to replicate themselves. This causes a higher chance of mutation, and, hence, the birth of some cancers. Antioxidants take care of these before they have a chance to do much harm. In general, raspberries have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants out of all fruits and vegetables.
Raspberries have more than just antioxidants going for it, though, as they have high levels of a number of other nutrients. High vitamin C levels are important, as it is water soluble and, thus, cannot be stored in the body. Raspberries also, surprisingly, have high levels of dietary fiber, which improve digestive and colon health, as well as assist in lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). There are also nice levels of niacin, magnesium, potassium, and copper, rounding out this berry as one of the leaders of the pack.
Eating More Raspberries
When raspberries are in season, incorporating them into your diet fairly regularly will yield nice health benefits. Replacing sugary, creamy deserts with raspberries and yogurt is a good way to substitute good nutrition for fatty foods, while still getting that little sugar kick you might be craving. Buying raspberries from the store can quickly add up on your grocery bills, though. Going to an organic U-Pick operation is the best way to stock up on these big time – pounds upon pounds – and get a hefty discount on them. You can then easily freeze them and have plenty of raspberries to last you for months.
When selecting raspberries from the store, make sure they are nice an plump, deep red, and slightly firm. Avoid any raspberries that are mushy or moldy, as these are already on their way to the compost pile, and won’t taste any good. Raspberries in general good bad very quickly, so make sure to use them one or two days after buying them, or freeze them. When storing them in the refrigerator, make sure to not squish them under anything, as they’ll go bad even quicker. Cover them in plastic to extend their shelf life a little bit.