Raspberries: the small but powerful fruit

Diverse, delicious and now in-season, raspberries are a great addition to your summer menu.

Raspberries are ranked as the third most popular berry in the U.S. following strawberries and blueberries.

There are three basic groups of raspberries: red raspberries, black raspberries and purple raspberries. Red raspberries can typically be identified by their color and are the most common. Black raspberries can easily be mistaken for blackberries but are sometimes referred to as thimbleberries. The purple raspberry is a category where red and black raspberries have been hybridized or naturally combined and over time yellow raspberries developed. Yellow raspberries are naturally yellow or golden in color and are actually special forms of red or black raspberries.

With a rich mixture of phytonutrients and antioxidants, studies have shown raspberries to provide beneficial qualities in cancer prevention. Researchers have also found that raspberries contain a rich supply of anti-inflammatory nutrients and can help lower the risk of excessive inflammation. Other phytonutrients found in raspberries are being found to work with inactive hormones within the body to help improve insulin balance, blood sugar balance and blood fat balance in obese persons with type 2 diabetes.

Raspberries are highly perishable so they should be purchased one or two days before you are going to use them. Choose berries that are fully ripe, firm, plump and deep in color. These will contain the highest amount of phytonutrients. Avoid mushy, over-ripe or moldy berries. If they are packaged in a container, make sure the raspberries are not packed too tightly as that may cause damage to the berries and check the container for stains or moisture which can be a sign of spoilage. Raspberries will stay fresh in the refrigerator for one to two days. Do not leave them out of the refrigerator for more than one or two hours and keep them out of the direct sunlight as these practices will help prevent spoilage. Because of the delicacy of the raspberries, wash them in water very carefully and pat dry before eating.

Raspberries provide an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese which is a trace mineral needed for bone health, skin health and blood sugar regulation, and fiber. Raspberries are also good sources of B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to prevent heart disease and stroke, as well as potassium.

The following recipe combines nutrient-rich foods into a quick, healthy dessert from The Worlds Healthiest Foods.

5-Minute Raspberry Almond Parfait

Prep and Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • 8 oz (1 cup) low-fat vanilla or soy yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 TBS sliced almonds
  • Grated dark chocolate (optional)
  • Blend yogurt, honey and almond extract in a small mixing bowl with a whisk until the honey is incorporated and the mixture is smooth
  • Divide the yogurt mixture into two dessert dishes. Place the raspberries in one layer on top and garnish with the sliced almonds and, if desired, dark chocolate
  • Serves two

For more information about healthy lifestyles, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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