Desmond Croker RN, Dip. OHS, BSN, MSN, CCDE
July 25 2023
Raspberries are a type of fruit that belongs to the rose family. They grow on bushes that produce clusters of tiny drupelets that form a berry shape. Each drupelet contains a seed and is covered by a thin skin that can be red, black, purple, or gold.
Red raspberries are the most common type you'll find at the grocery store or farmer's market. They have a sweet and tart flavor that makes them perfect for desserts, jams, smoothies, salads, and more.
Raspberries are available fresh from June to October in most places, but you can also find them frozen year-round. Frozen raspberries have the same amount of vitamins and minerals as fresh ones, so don't worry about losing any nutrients.
Raspberries are packed with nutrients that can benefit your heart in many ways. Here are some of the reasons why raspberries are good for your ticker:
- They provide potassium, which is essential for regulating your heartbeat and blood pressure. Potassium can also help lower your risk of stroke and heart disease by preventing fluid retention and easing the tension in your blood vessels.
- They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that can improve your blood flow and prevent blood clots. Omega-3s can also lower your triglycerides and cholesterol levels, which are linked to heart problems.
- They have manganese, which is a mineral that helps your body make collagen and elastin. These are proteins that keep your skin and blood vessels strong and flexible.
- They are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that protect your cells from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can harm your DNA and cause inflammation, aging, cancer, and heart disease. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and prevent them from causing trouble.
- They are low in sugar and high in fiber, which can help you control your blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and crashes. Fiber can also help you feel full longer after a meal, which can help you manage your weight and avoid overeating.
If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, raspberries can be a great addition to your diet. Raspberries can help you manage your diabetes in several ways:
- They have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they don't raise your blood sugar levels too quickly or too much. Raspberries have a GI of 32, which is much lower than most fruits (such as bananas with a GI of 62 or grapes with a GI of 59). This means they won't cause sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels that can lead to complications.
- They contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can improve your insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use glucose (sugar) for energy. If you have insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, your cells don't respond well to insulin and have trouble using glucose. This causes high blood sugar levels that can damage your organs and nerves. Polyphenols can help your cells respond better to insulin and use glucose more efficiently, which can lower your blood sugar levels and prevent complications.
- They have ellagic acid, which is a phytochemical that can inhibit the enzymes that break down starch and sugar in your digestive system. This can slow down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Ellagic acid can also prevent the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are harmful substances that can accumulate in your tissues and cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and diabetic complications.
Raspberries are versatile and easy to incorporate into your diet. You can eat them fresh or frozen, raw or cooked, alone or with other foods. Here are some ideas on how to enjoy raspberries in your diet:
- Add them to your breakfast cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothie for a burst of flavor and nutrition.
- Sprinkle them over your salad, cottage cheese, or ice cream for a refreshing and colorful topping.
- Make a raspberry sauce by simmering raspberries with water, lemon juice, and a little honey or sugar-free sweetener. Drizzle it over pancakes, waffles, cheesecake, or pudding for a delicious dessert.
- Bake them into muffins, bread, pies, or cakes for a sweet treat that's also good for you.
- Make a raspberry jam by mashing raspberries with chia seeds and a little honey or sugar-free sweetener. Store it in the fridge and use it as a spread for toast, crackers, or sandwiches.
- Freeze them in ice cube trays and add them to your water, lemonade, or iced tea for a refreshing and fruity drink.
If you're looking for some inspiration on how to use raspberries in your cooking, here are some yummy recipes to try:
- Raspberry Chia Pudding: This is a simple and healthy breakfast or snack that's rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. All you need is some chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla extract, honey or sugar-free sweetener, and raspberries. Mix everything together in a jar or bowl and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, enjoy your creamy and fruity pudding with some more fresh raspberries on top.
- Raspberry Chicken Salad: T his is a light and refreshing salad that's perfect for lunch or dinner. It's loaded with lean protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. You'll need some cooked chicken breast, mixed greens, avocado, almonds, feta cheese, raspberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss everything together in a large bowl and serve with some whole wheat bread or crackers.
- Raspberry Oat Bars: These are chewy and satisfying bars that make a great snack or dessert. They're made with oats, almond butter, honey or sugar-free sweetener, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, raspberries, and dark chocolate chips. Mix the oat mixture in a bowl and press half of it into a baking dish. Spread the raspberries over it and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Cover with the remaining oat mixture and bake for 25 minutes. Cut into bars and enjoy!
Raspberries are more than just a tasty fruit. They're also a powerful ally for heart health and diabetes management. They can help you lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels.
They can also protect your cells from oxidative stress and inflammation that can lead to heart disease and diabetic complications.
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