By Anne Palumbo
When it comes to a food’s nutritive profile, unexpected discoveries (good or bad) intrigue me. Pale cauliflower high in vitamin C? Who knew? Fibrous celery low in fiber? Didn’t see that one. Rich avocados full of healthy fats? More toast, please!
So you can only imagine my delight when I discovered that raspberries — sweet, little raspberries — rock with more fiber than any other fruit: 8 big grams per cup. Since we need between 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, that’s about a third of our daily needs.
A vital nutrient, fiber promotes regularity, lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and may even help us live longer by reducing the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and many cancers.
Another discovery? Luscious raspberries are surprisingly low in sugar: only 5 grams per cup (about a teaspoon of sugar). As a comparison, one medium apple has about 20 grams. Equally low in carbs, raspberries are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to minimize their overall sugar and carb intake.
Raspberries, like most berries, are full of antioxidants — health-protective compounds that have been tied to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. These same antioxidants also help toreduce inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging. On top of everything, a particular type of antioxidant found only in red berries is so strongly associated with brain health and delayed cognitive decline that weekly consumption of berries is highly recommended by many leading health organizations.
On the vitamin front, raspberries dish up a healthy dose of vitamin C: about 50% of our daily needs in just one serving. Essential for the growth and repair of tissue body-wide, vitamin C helps to increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells, which is why many of us turn to vitamin C during cold and flu season and are seeking it now.
Those looking to lose or maintain weight will appreciate raspberries’ nutrition stats: only 64 calories per cup and no fat, cholesterol or sodium. What’s more, raspberries’ slow-digesting fiber helps us feel fuller longer, making us less inclined to reach for those tempting chips.
Spinach, Goat Cheese and Raspberry Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light Serves 2-4
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt (or more)
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped red onion (optional)
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach (or more)
1 cup raspberries
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
¼ cup (or more) crumbled goat cheese or feta
Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl; blend with a whisk.
Combine onion, spinach, berries and walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over the salad; toss gently. Top with crumbled cheese and serve.
Fresh raspberries are highly perishable; use as soon as possible after purchasing or picking to ensure the best flavor and appearance. Choose berries that are ripe, plump and firm. Wash gently and pat dry right before eating or cooking. If not using right away, refrigerate unwashed raspberries in a shallow, covered container on a paper towel for up to 3 days. Be sure to toss any spoiled or moldy berries so they will not contaminate the others.
Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org.