The Raspberry

There is a legend that the raspberry’s scientific name, Rubus idaeus, was derived from Mount Ida in Turkey (Jennings, 1988). Apparently, Greek Gods discovered the raspberry there and hence the name. At that time raspberries were used as a medicine rather than as a food and the berries were not cultivated but wild. The medicinal uses for the wild raspberries include:

  • The blossom was used to make an eye ointment or a stomach draught.
  • The roots were crushed and used as an astringent or made into a tea for dysentery.
  • Some roots were used as a cough remedy by chewing.
  • Raspberry tea was used for relief of uterine contractions during childbirth.
  • Raspberry leaf tea was used to wash and clean old sores.
  • Raspberry leaves were used to make a tea to heal stomach and throat problems (Erichsen-Brown, 1979).

Raspberries were actually cultivated by the Romans in the 4th century (Brambles, 1989). Linnaeus used the name iadeus was for the red raspberry; for the genus, he used the name Rubus from the Latin Ruber, which means red (Jennings, 1988).

In the 16th century raspberries began to show up in home gardens in Europe as the wild berry plants were brought in from woodlands. The use of the raspberry as a medicine continued to be common at this time. It is believed, according to Jennings that the term Rasp came from the Anglo-Saxon Resp which means shoot or sucker (Jennings, 1988).

The 19th century saw twenty or more cultivars for red raspberries in England and the U.S. The first U.S. raspberries were brought from Europe in 1771 and sold in New York. After the American Civil War, commercial raspberry production began to increase. Many private individuals developed new cultivars and propagation methods. By the late 1800s about 2,000 acres of raspberries were grown, by the early 1900s about 54,000 acres were in production and by 1948 nearly 60,000 acres (Bramble, 1989).

Nutritional Information

Raspberries per 100 g serving

Nutrient Amount
Energy 63 kcal/264 kJ
Protein 1.5 g
Fat 0.8 g
Carbohydrate 14.7 g
Dietary Fibre 8 g
Sodium 1 mg (0%)
Vitamin A equiv. 1 μg (0%)
-beta-carotene 120 μg (1%)
Vitamin C 54 mg (90%)
Calcium 3 mg (0%)
Iron 5 mg (40%)


See the scientific papers below to see how raspberries improve your health.


Raspberries and Human Health: A Review. A. Venketeshwer Rao and Dawn M. Snyder. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (7), pp 3871–3883.

Dietary guidelines around the world recommend the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as good sources of antioxidant phytochemicals for the prevention of chronic diseases. Red raspberries are a common and important fruit in the Western diet due to their content of essential nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. Anthocyanins and ellagitannins are polyphenolic compounds and the major antioxidant phytochemicals present in raspberries. Whereas individual phytochemical constituents of raspberries have been studied for their biological activities, human intervention studies using whole berries are lacking in the literature. The nutritional and phytochemical compositions of red raspberries and their absorption, metabolism, and biological activity are reviewed. Finally, future directions of research are also identified.

Ellagitannins, Flavonoids, and Other Phenolics in Red Raspberries and Their Contribution to Antioxidant Capacity and Vasorelaxation Properties. William Mullen, Jennifer McGinn, Michael E. J. Lean, Margaret R. MacLean, Peter Gardner,  Garry G. Duthie,  Takoa Yokota,  and Alan Crozier. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (18), pp 5191–5196. 

Analysis of extracts of Glen Ample raspberries (Rubus idaeus L.) by gradient, reverse phase HPLC with diode array and tandem mass spectrometry identified eleven anthocyanins, including cyanidin-3-sophoroside, cyanidin-3-(2G-glucosylrutinoside), cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-rutinoside, pelargonidin-3-sophoroside, pelargonidin-3-(2G-glucosylrutinoside), and pelargonidin-3-glucoside. Significant quantities of an ellagitannin, sanguiin H-6, with an Mr of 1870 were detected along with lower levels of a second ellagitannin, lambertianin C, which has an Mr of 2804. Other phenolic compounds that were detected included trace levels of ellagic acid and its sugar conjugates along with one kaempferol- and four quercetin-based flavonol conjugates. Fractionation by preparative HPLC revealed that sanguiin H-6 was a major contributor to the antioxidant capacity of raspberries together with vitamin C and the anthocyanins. Vasodilation activity was restricted to fractions containing lambertianin C and sanguiin H-6.

Effect of Freezing and Storage on the Phenolics, Ellagitannins, Flavonoids, and Antioxidant Capacity of Red Raspberries. William Mullen, Amanda J. Stewart, Michael E. J. Lean, Peter Gardner, Garry G. Duthie,and Alan Crozier. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002,50 (18), pp 5197–5201

Scottish-grown red raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C and phenolics, most notably, the anthocyanins cyanidin-3-sophoroside, cyanidin-3-(2G-glucosylrutinoside), and cyanidin-3-glucoside, and two ellagitannins, sanguiin H-6 and lambertianin C, which are present together with trace levels of flavonols, ellagic acid, and hydroxycinnamates. The antioxidant capacity of the fresh fruit and the levels of vitamin C and phenolics were not affected by freezing. When fruit were stored at 4 °C for 3 days and then at 18 °C for 24 h, mimicking the route fresh fruit takes after harvest to the supermarket and onto the consumer’s table, anthocyanin levels were unaffected while vitamin C levels declined and those of elligitannins increased, and overall, there was no effect on the antioxidant capacity of the fruit. It is concluded, therefore, that freshly picked, fresh commercial, and frozen raspberries all contain similar levels of phytochemicals and antioxidants per serving.

Blackberry, Black Raspberry, Blueberry, Cranberry, Red Raspberry, and Strawberry Extracts Inhibit Growth and Stimulate Apoptosis of Human Cancer Cells In Vitro. Navindra P. Seeram, Lynn S. Adams, Yanjun Zhang, Rupo Lee, Daniel Sand, Henry S. Scheuller, and David Heber. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2006, 54 (25), pp 9329–9339

Berry fruits are widely consumed in our diet and have attracted much attention due to their potential human health benefits. Berries contain a diverse range of phytochemicals with biological properties such as antioxidant, anticancer, anti-neurodegerative, and anti-inflammatory activities. In the current study, extracts of six popularly consumed berries blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, red raspberry and strawberry were evaluated for their phenolic constituents using high performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet (HPLC-UV) and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS) detection. The major classes of berry phenolics were anthocyanins, flavonols, flavanols, ellagitannins, gallotannins, proanthocyanidins, and phenolic acids. The berry extracts were evaluated for their ability to inhibit the growth of human oral (KB, CAL-27), breast (MCF-7), colon (HT-29, HCT116), and prostate (LNCaP) tumor cell lines at concentrations ranging from 25 to 200 μg/mL. With increasing concentration of berry extract, increasing inhibition of cell proliferation in all of the cell lines were observed, with different degrees of potency between cell lines. The berry extracts were also evaluated for their ability to stimulate apoptosis of the COX-2 expressing colon cancer cell line, HT-29. Black raspberry and strawberry extracts showed the most significant pro-apoptotic effects against this cell line. The data provided by the current study and from other laboratories warrants further investigation into the chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic effects of berries using in vivo models.

Impact of Berry Phytochemicals on Human Health: Effects beyond Antioxidation.  Navindra P. Seeram and , David Heber in. Antioxidant Measurement and Applications. Eds. Fereidoon Shahidi1, Chi-Tang Ho. 2007. Chapter 21, pp 326–336.

It is now well accepted that a phytochemical rich diet contributes towards reducing the risk of oxidative-stress mediated diseases such as certain types of cancers, heart and neurodegenerative diseases. Phytochemical rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, spices, and certain beverages and other food products such as tea, wine, beer, chocolate, cocoa, etc. Among fruits, berries contain high levels of a diversity of phytochemicals known as phenolics including flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavonols and flavanols), proanthocyanidins, ellagitannins and gallotannins, stilbenoids and phenolic acids. Popularly consumed berries include blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries. Although berry phenolics are potent in vitro antioxidants, they exert in vivo biological activities beyond antioxidation and can have complementary and overlapping mechanisms of action. For example, berry phenolics can impart preventive benefits through the regulation of enzymes important in metabolizing xenobiotics and carcinogens, by modulating nuclear receptors, gene expression and sub-cellular signaling of proliferation and apoptosis, and by acting indirectly through antioxidant actions that protect DNA from damage. This overview examines the impact of consumption of natural berry bioactive compounds on human health and disease prevention.


Erichsen-Brown, (1979) Medicinal and Other uses of North American Plants. New York: Dover Publications.

Fruit processing. Encyclopedia Britannica (1999) [On-line]

Hendrickson, R. (1981) The Berry Book. New York: Doubleday.

Jenning, D. L. (1988). Raspberries and Blackberries, Their Breeding, Diseases and Growth. San Diego, CA: Academic Press Limited.

Scientists Uncover Ancient Home. (1998, October 9). Albany Democrat Herald. p. A4.

USDA (1988) Dietary Fiber of Selected Foods. Agricultural Handbook. HNIS.

USDA (1987) Sugar Content of Selected Foods. Agricultural Handbook. HNIS.

USDA Human Nutrition Service. (1982) Composition of Foods, Fruits, and Fruit Juices-Raw, Processed, Prepared. Agr. Handbook No. 8-9.