Red raspberries are one of the true delights of summer. The native red American raspberry is believed to have first been noted by a French lawyer, Marc Lesarbot, in 1607. The story goes that he and fellow members of an expedition were in Canada and amused themselves by gathering raspberries. Plymouth Plantation lays claim to raspberries in the words of Edward Winslow in 1621, as he listed raspberries among wild Massachusetts fruits.
The most commonly grown raspberries in the U.S. are the European raspberry (which originated in Asia) and the American red raspberry. Raspberries are around for a short time, and do not keep long even when refrigerated. Purchase berries that are firm and have a rich, deep red color. Stay away from berries that are soft and starting to look mushy as they will mold quickly. Rinse them just before use. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries last longer if stored at higher humidity with lower air circulation, so the coldest part of your refrigerator is the best place to store them. Produce drawers are a great place.
Health benefits of raspberries
One cup of raspberries provides 60 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of dietary fiber. This serving provides fifty percent of your daily dose of vitamin C. Consuming fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C helps to develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals. Raspberries contain high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals — antioxidant compounds in berries that have potential health benefits against aging, cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative disease. Raspberries also contain the antioxidants vitamin A and E. Minerals such as potassium, manganese, copper, iron and magnesium can be found in raspberries. Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Copper helps with the production of red blood cells.
Raspberry ketones and weight loss
Anything mentioned on “Dr. Oz” must be true. The use of raspberry ketones for quick weight loss has been challenged by health professionals, notably registered dietitians and physicians. Studies conducted on mice prove that raspberry ketones are effective for preventing weight gain in mice. There is no scientific evidence that supports the same results in humans. To date, there has been no research involving raspberry ketones conducted on humans. What is known is that ketones increase the production and release of norepinephrine, which suppresses appetite and increases metabolic rate.
The author of one article that looks at the impact of raspberry ketones on thyroid health compared the product to being chased by a bear. The person’s heart rate speeds up and their vision can become blurry, and if that isn’t uncomfortable enough, throw in a bout of nausea. Raspberry ketones can also cause a temperature spike. The side effects are dosage dependent. Remember: all of the recent TV hype about the raspberry ketone claims is based entirely on two studies using mice.
Berries freeze well to be enjoyed during winter months. Spread berries on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for a few hours. Then put in freezer bags or storage containers. This way you can pour out what you need for an individual serving, as the berries won’t be frozen together.
For a raspberry recipe other than dessert, here’s an option:
Caramelized Onion Raspberry Noodle Toss
16 ounces homestyle wide egg noodles
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound onions, peeled, trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
12 ounces red raspberries
½ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl and cover to keep warm. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of drippings. Add butter and onions to same skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until onions are light golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove onions, set aside. Whisk chicken broth, cornstarch, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl to dissolve cornstarch. Add to skillet, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Pour sauce over noodles. Add caramelized onions and bacon and stir to combine. Gently mix in raspberries and pecans.
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian and adjunct nutrition instructor at Eastern Maine Community College who lives in Athens. Read more of her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.