Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fruit : Raspberries

Raspberries were originally native to Europe, but now they are widely cultivated in many regions all over the world.  The main producers of raspberries are Poland, the United States, Germany and Chile.

You may not be aware of the fact that Xylitol is extracted from raspberries. This low-calorie sugar substitute is absorbed more slowly in the intestines than sugar, and because it's low on the glycemic index it's often recommended for diabetics.

Health Benefits of Raspberries

These delicious berries are low in calories and saturated fats, but are a rich source of fibre and many vitamins.  Some of their health benefits are :
  • Rich source of fiber.  100g of berries provides 6.5g of fibre and only 52 calories
  • They have significantly high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid (tannin), quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicicylic acid.  Scientific studies show that these antioxidant compounds have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation and neuro-degenerative diseases.
  • And excellent source of vitamin C which is also a powerful natural antioxidant.  It helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation, and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  • Also contains vitamin A and vitamin E as well as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene in small amounts.  Together these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals that play a role in aging and various diseases.
  • Also  contain minerals such as potassium, manganese, copper, iron and magnesium.  Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure while Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.  Copper is used in the production of red blood cells.
  • They are rich in B-complex vitamins as well as vitamin K. These vitamins help the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fats.
  • The seed oil of raspberries has a natural sun protection factor.
  •  Contain high amounts of polyphenolic compounds known for their anti-cancer properties.
  • Because of the high fire and manganese, raspberries are very useful in helping to burn fat.  The fibre helps slow the digestive process so you feel full longer while Manganese helps keep your metabolic rate high, which in turn burns fat.
  • Finally, when you feel tired, gaze upon the red hue of a bowl of raspberries.  The colour red is supposed to stimulate circulation, sending oxygen rich blood to your muscles for a boost of energy.  

How to grow Raspberries

Raspberries are very easy to grow and even though you have to initially plant the bushes in your garden, you won't have to wait long for a crop.  Raspberries bear a reasonable amount of berries in the second year and a full crop thereafter.  (a good average yield is about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. per foot of plants)

Raspberries grow best in full sun and only require extra watering if the growing season is extremely dry, so they are very easy care.  They are also quite hardy and self propagating.  this means that if you plant half a dozen rapberry plants, in a few years time you will have a sizeable raspberry patch.

Here is a video on how to plant raspberries.

And a couple more on how to grow them.

How to use Raspberries

Raspberries can be used in a variety of innovative ways.  Of course raspberry tea is a nice treat - either hot or over ice.  Add a few fresh berries to your tea bags to intensify the flavour. Here are just a few varieties of good raspberry teas that you can try.
Yogi Woman's Raspberry Leaf, Herbal Tea Supplement, 16-Count Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Traditional Medicinals Organic Raspberry Leaf Herbal Tea, 16-Count Wrapped Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Celestial Seasonings Herb Tea, Raspberry Zinger, 20-Count Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Stash Premium Wild Raspberry Herbal Tea, Tea Bags, 100-Count Box

Here are some other ways to use this berry that you can try :

Raspberry Facial

Because of their great aroma, a raspberry facial is great for lifting your spirits.  Just steep 4 or 5 raspberry tea bags in about 4 cups of hot water, then once it's reasonably strong, pour it into a large bowl.  Put a large towel over your head and lean over the bowl, letting the steam flow over your face and drink in the aroma.  Finish with a splash of cold water to close your pores and apply your favourite moisturizer.

Raspberry Facial Mask 

A natural face mask made from raspberries has a lot going for it.  The raspberries help protect your face against the sun's rays, and the vitamin C's antioxidant powers help fade age spots and discolouration.  This mask also helps round out the skin and fill in minor wrinkles.

To make the mask, combine 2 cups of fresh raspberries and 1 cup of plain yogurt in a blender and blend until smooth.  Apply the mixture to your face and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse with tepid water. (Yes, I know the girl in the photo has raspberries stuck all over her face, and it makes an effective photo, but you blend yours and it will work a lot better. Trust me.)

After your mask, try a moisturizing cream with raspberry extracts.  This cream for instance advertises many of the benefits mentioned above and might be worth a try.
New Raspex Raspberry Skin Cream without Sunscreen

 "Raspberry Cream is a wonderful moisturizing skin treatment. This is a proprietary formulation, physician developed, containing natural ingredients. The Raspberry cream contains ellagitannins from Raspberry extract. The ellagitannis content of raspberry seeds varies dramatically with the variety of the berry. The highest levels of ellagitannins are found in the Meeker variety of raspberry which is in this cream. It is proving to be very effective at boosting skin immune which maintains skin suppleness, reduces wrinkles, promotes healing, reduces scaring and improves fine capillary blood flow 

Raspberry Recipes

Raspberries add delicious flavour to many dishes.

Use raspberries in your protein shakes.

They are terrific in muffins.

And make wonderful cakes.

Then there is the very famous dessert Peach Melba.  And a nut crust filled with lemon custard and topped with fresh raspberries is a spectacular and very tasty special occasion dessert.

Today's inspirational garden with it's raspberry patch is from .

"Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise."
                                                                                                                            - Henry Mitchell

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