Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Mighty Raspberry

For its diminutive size, the raspberry packs a mighty nutritional punch. As a rich source of antioxidants and the plant food higher than any other in fiber, it is often included in the top 5 most nutritious foods. It is chock full of copper, iron, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, folic acid and vitamins B 1-3. Promising health benefits are currently being researched and are likely to prove the positive effects of eating raspberries on pain, cancer, diabetes, allergies and cardiovascular disease.

Each berry is made up of around a hundred drupelets, each a separate fruit pulp with an individual seed. It pulls away from the plant easily when ripe and is the only hollow fruit. The leaves can be used fresh or dried in herbal tea and honey bees are especially drawn to the flowers as a major source of nectar.

Over the years, cultivators have crossed red and black raspberries to produce what we know as boysenberries and loganberrries. More recent breeding has produced plants with no thorns and others strong enough to stand upright without stakes. They're currently grown worldwide in temperate climates and improvements in transportation have made them available all year.

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