Prof. dr Miodrag Jankovič, dipl. ing. Aleksandra Joksimović

Raspberry and its nutritional values

Serbia produces around 80,000 tons of raspberry every year out of which 80% is exported frozen, 10-15% is processed into jam, juices and similar products, which means that only around 10% is consumed on our market. There are many larger producers of raspberry in the world (USA, Russia, etc), but they consume almost all the fruit themselves leaving only a small amount for export. This is how a small country like Serbia has become the world top exporter of raspberry and helds this position to date.

Why is Serbian raspberry so well sold on the global market?

They say that in Europe there is even a brand called “Serbian raspberry”. This is because it is of high quality, with a distinctive aroma, a good acid-to-sugar ratio and relatively high dry matter content. However, we are not aware that in developed countries raspberry is increasingly less used as a simple “fruit” and more as medicine – against free radicals, diseases of the heart, blood vessels and cancer.

Free radicals are high-energy oxidants, i.e. atoms or molecules which oxidize something (steal electrons). On the other hand, antioxidants are elements and compounds which prevent the effects of excessive radicals/oxidants. Free radicals are naturally present in the human body and they are harmful on their own so they do not need to be completely neutralized. A cell naturally creates free radicals which participate in physiological processes, leucocytes create and release free radicals in extra-cellular space if bacteria or viruses which cause infectious diseases are present. An excess of free radicals in the body may be caused by various factors, which may be exogenous and endogenous. Endogenous production of free radicals is performed in mitochondria as part of regular metabolism, whereas exogenous production is related to factors such as UV radiation, smoking or environmental polution, alcohol (wine, brandy, beer), bad diet (large amounts of trans-fats, meat products, fried food, etc.), pesticides, medication, X-ray and radioactive ionizing radiation, stress, sudden hyperactivity, starvation. In these cases the production of free radicals exceeds the amount of radicals required for regular physiological processes. Instead of pharmaceutical preparations, nutritive preparations (nutraceuticals) are recommended for the treatment of diseases. Raspberry is exactly the type of food which contains all of the following: ellagic acid, quercetin, anthocyanin, salicylic acid, catechines, vitamin C and phytoestrogens. All these contribute to raspberry's great capacity to neutralize free oxygen radicals or what is called in English-language studies, high ORAC (Oxigen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This helps fighting cancer, lowering blood cholesterol concentration and slowing down aging.

Salicylic acid present in raspberries has the same protective effect for heart disease as aspirin. Aspirin is widely known as medicine made from salicylic acid acetate. Small daily doses of aspirin are recommended to prevent atherosclerosis. 100 grams of red raspberry contain about 5 milligrams of salicylic acid.

Quercetin has an anticancerogenous and antioxidizing effect. Quercetin influences lower release of histamine and has antiallergenic effects. 100 grams of red raspberry contain 12 milligrams of quercetin, while 100 grams of Evergreen blackberry contain up to 3.5 milligrams.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and absorber of free radicals. 100 grams of red raspberry contain 30-50 milligrams of vitamin C.

Catechines are a compound which help in the antioxidizing process. They are used as a prevention for cancer. 100 grams of red raspberry contain about 0.8 milligrams while 100 grams Evergreen blackberry contain around 1.3 milligrams of catechines.

Plant fibres help in the maintenance of the gastrointestinal tract and prevent some types of cancer. They help reducing cholesterol in the blood and the risk of heart disease.

Ellagic acid acid is a phenolic compound and these compounds are known for they ability to block the reactive chain that leads to the development of cancer. This has been proven by many studies conducted around the world including our country at the Institute for Oncology and Radiology in Belgrade. Zorica Juranić and associates have found that the highest content of ellagic acid is in Willamette variety. In 100 grams of raspberries, the seeds contain 0.48 milligrams while the flesh of the fruit contains 0.09 milligrams. A new raspberry variety (Tulameen) contains per 100 grams 0.3 milligrams in the seed and 0.14 milligrams in the flesh of the fruit. Ellagic acid is sold in pharmacies in capsules of 500 mg with each capsule containing 0.2 milligrams of ellagic acid and a recommended daily dose of 8 capsules.

The antioxidizing characteristics of raspberry depend on the content of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a colour matter that gives raspberry its characteristic red colour. The latest research shows that anthocyanins can help in the control of diabetes, improve circulation, prevent cancer and slow down aging, memory loss, and movement disorders.

We already mentioned above that ORAC is the capacity to absorb oxygen-free radicals and as such it represents a measurement of the body's antixodizing activity. Antioxidants prevent oxidation causing damages to our tissues. Consuming fruit with high ORAC value can slow down aging of both body and brain. Antioxidants have the best effect when combined with other above mentioned compounds. This is why nutraceutical sources are considered much better antioxidants then those we consume through artificial pharmaceutical preparations. Now it becomes much clearer why our raspberry is in such high demand and consumed in countries with higher level of consumer education, where people tend to replace pharmaceutics with natural sources of nutraceuticals.