Superfruit for Heart Health, Memory, and Vision

Did You Know…

…black raspberries are among the most powerful superfruits for heart health? 

Black raspberries have been nicknamed the “King of Berries,” and for good reason. They’ve got blackberries and red raspberries beat in ORAC capacity. ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is a measure of a food’s antioxidant “punch.” Foods with an extremely high ORAC score have a stronger capacity for neutralizing oxygen free radicals before they can damage DNA, oxidize cholesterol, and accelerate disease and premature mental aging.

Fun Fact: Black raspberries have 6 times more antioxidant power than red raspberries and 3 times more antioxidant power than blackberries!

The antioxidants in black raspberries, including black raspberries in a bowlanthocyanins, flavonoids, tannins, and resveratrol, have been linked to a decreased risk for life-threatening health conditions. Research suggests that foods rich in anthocyanins can help improve vision and memory retention, and reduce the risk of high blood pressure. And ellagic acid, a key phenol in black raspberries, has proven anti-cancer, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. A recent study, and the focus of today’s article, suggests that black raspberries exert tremendous heart protective benefits. 

Eat Black Raspberries and Protect Your Heart

Black raspberries have long been a prescription for heart health in traditional alternative Korean medicine. Researchers from Korea University Anam Hospital recently put black raspberries to the test and published their findings in the. The results are surprisingly promising.

Researchers divided 51 men and women with metabolic syndrome into two groups and tested for heart disease markers at the beginning and end of the study. A group of 26 people received 750 mg of black raspberry extract daily for 12 weeks, while the other 24 men and women received a placebo.

To better understand the results of the study, let’s first address metabolic syndrome, a health condition that’s the precursor to heart disease and diabetes. One in six Americans already have metabolic syndrome, an umbrella for a host of heart-disease promoting symptoms:

  • Abdominal Fat
  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar levels
  • High harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Low beneficial HDL cholesterol
  • Arterial stiffness

After 12 weeks, the group supplementing with black raspberry extract showed a significant reduction in heart disease indicators, while the placebo group showed no such benefits.

  • Black raspberries reduced arterial stiffness by 8%. When arteries are stiff, the heart has to work much harder to pump blood through the body, making you vulnerable for heart attack. This 8% reduction translated to less energy spent by the heart.
  • Black raspberry extract also increased the amount of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) by 20%. EPCs are sent to needed areas to duplicate endothelial cells and help repair arteries and protect against heart disease.
  • Test results at the end of 12 weeks also showed that those taking black raspberry extract had 3 times more of the proteins and hormones that stave off heart disease.

In their report, the researchers concluded: “the use of black raspberry significantly lowered [symptoms of heart disease] . . . thereby improving cardiovascular risks in patients.” Black raspberry extract caused “rapid restoration to the damaged endothelium (arterial walls).”

July is the season for fresh black raspberries, but you may find them frozen or freeze dried in your local health food store or co-op in the off season months. You can also opt to use a powder or an extract, as with the study.