Life expectancy can largely be attributed to a healthy balanced diet. Experts say you should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, base meals on higher fibre starchy foods, have some dairy or dairy alternative, and eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein. Choosing unsaturated oils and spread and eating them in small amounts is also important, alongside drinking plenty of fluids. When it comes to fruit, one in particular has numerous health benefits – so much so that it should be a staple in your fridge for those wanting to boost their longevity.
Raspberries are rich in quercetin and gallic acid, which are flavonoids linked to healthy heart function, and they provide protection against obesity.
Raspberries have also been shown to promote healthy cell life and regulate normal cell death.
Raspberries are high in several powerful antioxidant compounds, including vitamin C, quercetin and ellagic acid.
Compared to other berries, raspberries have a similar antioxidant content as strawberries, but only half as much as blackberries and a quarter as much as blueberries.
A review of animal studies suggests raspberries and raspberry extracts have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects that may reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
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Raspberries are also unlikely to raise blood sugar levels and are low in glycaemic index (GI).
The GI is a measure of how quickly a given food increases your blood sugar.
Though the GI for raspberries has not been determined, most berries fall into the low-glycaemic category.
Additionally, studies show raspberries may lower blood sugar and improve insulin resistance.
In animal studies, mice fed freeze-dried red raspberries alongside a high-fat diet had lower blood sugar levels and less insulin resistance than the control group.
The raspberry-fed mice also demonstrated less evidence of fatty liver disease.
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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the effects of raspberries on killing stomach and colon cancer cells were further analysed.
The study noted: “Although the antioxidant capacity of raspberry extracts is important for inhibiting the proliferation of tumour cells, other characteristics of the berry extracts are responsible for a major part of their antiproliferative activity, and that the relative importance of the antioxidant effect can depend on the cell type being studied.
“The aim of this study was to assess the relative roles of low pH and high antioxidant levels in the killing of three cell types by an aqueous extract from red raspberries.
“Stomach, colon, and breast cancer cells were treated with berry extract
“A dilution of 7.5 percent ascorbic acid solution, of the same pH and slightly higher antioxidant concentration than the berry extract, killed less than 10 percent of the stomach and colon cancer cells.
“In contrast, the berry extract at this same dilution killed more than 90 percent of these cells.”
One study in 27 adults with metabolic syndrome showed that consuming a drink made of freeze-dried strawberries for eight weeks decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol by 11 percent.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that can lead to heart disease.
In addition, an 18-year study conducted by led by Dr Eric Rimm, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, found women who ate the most strawberries and blueberries were 34 percent less likely to have suffered a heart attack than women who ate the least of these fruits.
Berries also have anti-cancer properties and are excellent food for the brain; there is evidence that berry consumption could help prevent cognitive decline with ageing.