The Benefits of Raspberries
Did you know that the raspberry is the edible fruit of a multitude of plants related to the rose family? They are natures “sweets” with many nutritional benefits especially for us women going through peri-menopause. The humble raspberry ranges in colour from the popular richest red and black varieties to the pale yellow or golden ones, which my parents grow in their back garden. Each colour of raspberry has it’s own unique composition of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The lighter the colour the less anthocyanin content, which is the blue, violet or red pigment found in the berries.
I love raspberries to brighten up a salad or to top my yoghurt or porridge in the morning, but not only do they provide extra colour and taste they are packed with fabulous nutritional benefits., some of which I have highlighted below. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions and can provide an easy way of maintaining a healthy weight, which you will read many times throughout this article.
If you eat a diet full of plant foods, which could include raspberries, science would suggest that you are less likely to be at risk of developing obesity, diabetes and heart disease all of which are valuable for peri-menopausal and menopausal women. Apart from helping you feel good, eating a variety of fruit and vegetables can also promote healthy skin, increase energy levels and help maintain a lower weight, which as we age can soon creep up on us.
Just take-a-look at the other benefits of eating raspberries on a regular basis can help us achieve. All of which are fantastic for women going through peri-menopause and beyond …..
We’ve heard it all before “eat your 5 a-day and keep the doctor away!” which is great advice so just look what one cup of raspberries contain:
64 calories, 1.5gms of protein, 0.8gms fat, 15gms carbohydrate (including 8gms fibre and 5gms sugar.
Eating 1 cup of raspberries will provide you with: 54% of the vitamin C you need daily, 12% vitamin K which we use to store vitamin D, 6% folate ((vitamin B12 or B9) used to make red and white blood blood cells in bone marrow, 5% vitamin E which is essential for our skin and eyes and boosts the immune system, but for peri-menopausal women it may ease stress which eventually can lead to heart disease and it’s full of antioxidants, iron, potassium and 41% manganese. All this and more … vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, panthothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and copper.
Research in 2016 concluded that women are more likely to die from heart disease than of breast cancer. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, yet 1 in 2 women (that’s 50%) will die from a heart related issue. By doing all we can throughout our lives to eat a variety of foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables, we can help to prevent some of the major diseases known to man, but it becomes more important during peri-menopause and menopause when we lose the heart protective effects of oestrogen.
Recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition associated the consumption of foods rich in flavonoids such as raspberries lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. They also stated that eating just a small amount of these foods may be beneficial and with a high level of potassium too they are great for heart health
Raspberries contain a high proportion of polyphenols which are a powerful antioxidant that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure. And here is the best news… a British study by Aedin Cassidy PhD a nutrition professor at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in partnership with Harvard Public School of Health tracked 93,600 women between the age of 25-42 over an 18-year period with some interesting results. She stated that their study showed that for “the first time, a regular, sustained intake of anthocyananins from berries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women”
Powerful antioxidants work against free radical damage, inhibiting tumour growth and generally decreasing inflammation in our body and raspberries contain plenty. The same polyphenols that protect against heart disease also help ward off or slow down many cancers, including oesophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, pancreatic, prostrate and colon.
During peri-menopause our ovaries start to slow down their production of oestrogen, which can lead to an imbalance of hormones including cortisol, which can eventually disrupt our digestive system to a point where we not only suffer with uncomfortable gas but constipation too. This in turn can lead to over straining when we try and empty our bowels, leading to rectal bleeding, piles and pelvic floor dysfunction. Wonderful! Yet if we include a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet it will increase our intake of natural fibre and can save us so much pain and anguish.
Many scientific reports have suggested that natural sources of fibre are really beneficial for lowering our blood pressure and the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences in Kentucky, USA suggest that a diet high in fibre is associated with a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease (incredibly important for women going through peri-menopause/menopause), stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and some gastrointestinal diseases.
As a guideline, women should aim to eat 25grams of fibre per day and one cup of raspberries sprinkled over your yoghurt, porridge or thrown into a smoothie will give you 8gms of fibre.
Oh boy! Have I noticed a difference in my eye sight as I’ve got older, why do I have to hold the menu at arms-length just to make out a blur on the paper? But something more worrying for me is macular de-generation. My mother was diagnosed 9 years ago and has had regular eye injections to stop the leakage, which have eventually proven to be successful. However sometimes I believe prevention is better than cure. I do realise however, that no matter how well you look after yourself, things sometimes do go a tad wrong! Food that is high in vitamin C such as raspberries have been proven to keep eyes healthy by providing protection from UV light damage.
Raspberries also contain an antioxidant called zeaxanthin, which helps filter out blue light from light rays and it is thought to play a role in protecting our eyes and ward off damage from age related macular degeneration.
So if your not up for planting raspberry bushes in the garden, don’t forget to pop them in your shopping basket each week and enjoy the wholesome benefits from this delicious fruit.