Health Benefits of Raspberries
Raspberries have long been used in herbal remedies. The leaves, blossoms, and fruit have medicinal value that was recognized by the ancients and are still used today. In addition, certain chemicals found in raspberries and other dark berries have been shown to have value as cancer fighting agents and in the fight against heart disease. Resveratrol is found in most raspberries and other berries, especially blueberries and grapes. It is reputed to be able to slow down the aging process.
For women, in particular, the raspberry has multiple health benefits. A chemical called fragine, found in the leaves has toning properties that help both the intestines and reproductive organs. A tea made from the leaves may relieve menstrual cramps and help the uterus regain tone after childbirth. Some midwives recommend using raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy to help prepare the uterus for childbirth, but this is controversial in women who have a history of miscarriage. Drinking raspberry leaf tea after childbirth is also reputed to help increase milk production.
A mouthwash made with 1 teaspoon of raspberry vinegar in ½ cup of warm water will help soothe the gums and prevent bleeding. This same mouthwash will soothe swollen glands and help dry up phlegm.
The tannins in dried raspberry leaves will help soothe sunburns and other minor burns and a compress made from the leaves can also be used as a facial toner and astringent.
Raspberries contain ellagic acid, a known cancer fighter, and have higher levels of antioxidants than almost any fruit. In addition to vitamin C, raspberries contain high levels of cyanidin and pelagonidin glycosides which are also known to help prevent cancer. These substances are found in fresh, frozen, and dried berries, but seem to be missing in processed and canned berries. Substances called ellagitannins are unique to raspberries and are thought to help boost the antioxidant activity in the berries.
Raspberries also contain antimicrobial properties. The berries can be used to help prevent the growth of Candida albicans, the culprit in many vaginal infections as well as a trigger in irritable bowel syndrome.
Raspberries, blackberries and muscadine grapes contain substances that fight the spread of cancer. These fruit stop the growth of metalloproteinase enzymes which allow cancer to proliferate throughout the body. Raspberries also have high levels of manganese, riboflavin, niacin, and folate as well as a high amount of dietary fiber.
Red raspberries, in particular, help fight high cholesterol by lowering the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the bloodstream. The effect is greatest in fresh berries. Like strawberries and other dark berries, raspberries help fight macular degeneration and promote healthy eyesight.
Raspberries are easy to add to the diet, because despite their high sugar content, a cup of berries contains only 64 calories. The dietary fiber in the berries helps to slow the body's processing of the sugars.
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