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Animal Research Explores Red Raspberries

October 7, 2016

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The latest issue of the Journal of Berry Research includes two new animal studies that investigate the effects of raspberry consumption in helping to support healthy weight and motor function (strength, balance and coordination). Future studies are needed to support the results found in these studies.

One-cup of frozen red raspberries has only 80 calories, is an excellent source of vitamin C, and provides nine grams of fiber (more fiber than any other berry). Like most berries, raspberries are a low-glycemic index food. Raspberries contain phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid, quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid. 

New Animal Research Explores Red Raspberries In Supporting Healthy Weight And Motor Function
Animal and cellular studies examining how phytochemicals may work at the molecular level suggest that certain phytochemicals may help slow age-related declines. Age is the number one risk factor for many chronic diseases. Likewise, obesity is a major risk factor for chronic disease.  These latest animal studies examine two important areas of health where raspberry products may play a role in weight management and also support motor function.

OBESITY
An animal study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University found that when added to a high-fat, high-sucrose diet, raspberry products and raspberry phytochemicals were found to significantly decrease weight gain associated with a high-fat, high calorie diet. Raspberry juice and raspberry puree concentrates were provided at 10% of total energy (the equivalent of 200 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet), and a combination of ellagic acid and raspberry ketone were provided at 0.2% weight/weight.

In the study, 76 male mice were divided into the following diets:  a low-fat control group (10% calories from fat), a high-fat control group (45% calories from fat) and seven "high-fat treatment" groups that included a high-fat diet plus either raspberry juice concentrate, raspberry puree concentrate, raspberry fruit powder, raspberry seed extract, raspberry ketone and a combination of equal parts of ellagic acid and raspberry ketone.

"The addition of raspberry juice concentrate, raspberry puree concentrate and the combination of ellagic acid plus raspberry ketones to the high fat diet significantly reduced weight gain observed in the high-fat fed mice," said Dr. Neil Shay, Principal Investigator. "In the case of the high-fat and raspberry juice concentrate diet, weight gain was reduced to a level that was statistically equivalent to the weight gain of the low-fat fed mice, despite the fact that all high-fat fed groups consumed the same amount of calories and more energy than the low-fat control group throughout the study."

The researchers concluded that the intake of a reasonable level of some raspberry food products may influence some of the metabolic consequences of consuming a high-fat, high-calorie diet in the development of obesity in male mice. 

"We hope that the findings from this study can help guide the design of future clinical trials," said Dr. Shay. 

MOTOR FUNCTION
Researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University evaluated the effectiveness of a red raspberry-supplemented diet on age-sensitive measures of learning, memory and motor performance in older rats. 

In this 10-week study, red raspberry supplementation was found to significantly improve motor skills. Specifically, compared to rats fed a standard well-balanced diet, rats fed a diet supplemented with freeze-dried raspberry extract performed better on tests which measured psychomotor coordination and balance, as well as tests that measure muscle tone, strength, and stamina.

"These results may have important implications for healthy aging," said lead researcher Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PhD. "While further research in humans is necessary, animal model studies are helpful in identifying deficits associated with normal aging."

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