Raspberries: Rooted in Medicine
Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) first came to the US from Europe starting in 1771. The fiber and antioxidant rich fruit began with a mere 2000 acres of growth in the 1800s, and grew to nearly 60,000 acres by 1948. The delicious berry that we eat today was originally thought to be used for the following medicinal purposes:
- The blossom was used to make an eye ointment or a stomach draught.
- The roots were crushed and used as an astringent or made into a tea for dysentery.
- Some roots were used as a cough remedy by chewing.
- Raspberry tea was used for relief of uterine contractions during childbirth.
- Raspberry leaf tea was used to wash and clean old sores.
- Raspberry leaves were used to make a tea to heal stomach and throat problems
Resources: (Erichsen-Brown, 1979)
If these impressive benefits aren’t enough, perhaps the raspberry’s overall nutrition will convince you. The anthocyanins found in raspberries are polyphenolic compounds and the major antioxidant phytochemicals present that help with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Anthocyanins act as anti-cancer agents by inhibiting promotion and progression of tumor cells by stopping the growth of pre-malignant cells, increasing the apoptosis of cancer cells and inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels that nourish tumors.
The anthocyanins also play a role in the regulatory effect on the expression of genes involved in the inflammatory response.
As beneficial a role that anthocyanins play in human health, their actual purpose is specific to the raspberry. The bright colors of the anthocyanins help attract insects for pollination, keeping access to the nutritious fruit flourishing. At the same time, they have protection benefits from UV rays.
The raspberry is not only a functional food for these reasons, but stands as one of the most fiber-rich fruits available.
A ¾ cup serving of raspberries provides approximately:
- Calories: 65 calories
- Fat: 1 gram (and all from unsaturated healthy fats)
- Carbohydrates: 15 grams
- Fiber: 8 grams
- Natural Sugar: 7 grams
- Protein: 1.5 gram
- Iron: 5mg (that’s 40% of you daily Iron need!)
Resources: Erichsen-Brown, (1979) Medicinal and Other uses of North American Plants. New York: Dover Publications.
Simple Raspberry Recipes
Breakfast: Chocolate Raspberry Chia Breakfast Pudding
Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
- 1 cup milk of your choice (almond, coconut, cow)
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 cups raspberries
- Combine all ingredients (except the raspberries) and divide evenly between 4 dishes. Cover with saran wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- When ready to eat, top with ¼ to ½ cup of raspberries.
Want more protein? When ready to eat, add a dollop of Greek yogurt on top. Try Powerful Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt
Lunch: Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing over Greens
Ingredients (for the salad):
- 3-4 cups of your favorite greens (recommend a mix of spinach & arugula)
- 2 Tbsp red onion, chopped
- ½ cup broccoli, chopped
- 1oz feta cheese
Ingredients (for the dressing):
- ½ cup raspberries
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¾ cup olive oil, extra virgin
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- Using a wire strainer, mash raspberries with a large spoon to create a puree. You may also simply puree the berries in a small blender or smoothie maker.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the puree with the lemon juice, vinegar, and honey.
- Slowly mix in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified. This works best if you are able to utilize a blender, slowly pouring the olive oil in the top.
- Drizzle over the top of your salad and store the remainder in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Suggested protein salad toppers: Diced chicken breast, chickpeas, hemp hearts, chia seeds, salmon
Dinner: Raspberry Salmon
- 1 ½ cups raspberries
- ½ cup water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp Ginger, fresh
- 1 medjool date
- 2 Salmon fillets (roughly 6oz each)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Blend raspberries, water, lemon, ginger, and medjool date in your blender until smooth. Tip: For an easier blend, roughly ½ hour before you begin, shop the medjool date and place it in a cup of warm water, just enough to cover it. This will soften the date, allowing it to blend in smoothly).
- Pour raspberry blend into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place salmon fillets on parchment lined baking sheet. Season fillets with salt and pepper to taste and top with 1/3 raspberry mixture. Bake for 4 - 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven, turn the oven to a low broil, pour on an additional ⅓ cup berry mixture (save remaining) and return salmon to the broiler for an additional 4 minutes.
- Remove from the broiled and enjoy.
Recommended serving: Serve atop a simple bed of leafy greens, using the remaining berry blend as a dressing.
Back to Basics: Basic Raspberry Combos
- Raspberries + yogurt + low sugar granola = Yogurt parfait
- Raspberries + oatmeal + ground flax + chia = Power oats
- Raspberries + yogurt (freeze over night) = frozen yogurt bites
- Raspberries + chilled green tea + mint = Green Mojito
Smoothie: Beat the Heat Smoothie
- ½ cup strawberries
- ½ cup raspberries
- ¼ cup grapes
- ½ cup beets
- 1 tbsp flax
- Athletic Greens
- Add all ingredients to blender or smoothie maker and blend 60 seconds.
- Enjoy cold.
- Looking for more protein? Add your choice of: 1 scoop vanilla protein powder or Powerful Vanilla Bean Greek yogurt
Want more Spartan approved smoothies?
Beverage: Rasberry Lemonade
- 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, divided
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 inch slice fresh ginger
- 4 cups seltzer water
- 1 Lemon, sliced
- Honey to taste (optional)
- Blend ½ cup of berries, lemon juice, ginger, and water together.
- Transfer to a pitcher.
- Wash and slice lemon and add to pitcher along with remaining berries.
- Allow to chill in the refrigerator.
- Enjoy cold.