Black Raspberries: The New Superfood?

Blackberrys with Leafs

There is a new superfood on the block – black raspberries, and they go on sale today in selected Tescos stores. The new fruit has the texture and sweetness of a raspberry but is as juicy as a blackberry. Twenty-three years of study and 43 peer-reviewed articles carried out mainly at Ohio State University, indicate that black raspberries can be effective anti-cancer agents. Most berries are healthy and packed with anti oxidants but the healthiest aspect of the berries is the vibrant dark colour, indicating how full of bio-active compounds they are.. From the health point of view, the king of the berries is the most deeply coloured one – the black raspberry and it is strong enough to fight cancer.

A variety, which has been named Mac Black, have been grown in Britain, apparently has a more intense flavour than traditional red varieties. They also contain relatively high levels of compounds which scientists have identified as helping to prevent cancer. The Mac Black raspberries originally come from North America but were brought over to the UK five years ago by berry growers Hall Hunter, situated near Twyford, Berkshire. These black raspberries contain high levels of ellagic acid, anthocyanins and antioxidants, all of which have exceptional health benefits. There is evidence to reveal that ellagic acid may combat wrinkles by protecting the collagen in skin tissue and reducing inflammation. In addition, it appears that EA also confers some protection against the harmful rays of the sun. The cardiovascular benefits of anthocyanins are the most well known; studies show that they can help prevent blood clots, improve blood circulation, relax blood vessels and prevent artherosclerosis. But scientists have also discovered that they possess powerful anti-viral and anti-allergenic properties. Antioxidants are said to help destroy free radicals, the harmful molecules which gather in the body and can damage cells.

Researchers at  Ohio State University tested rats with colon and oesophageal tumours and found that when fed a diet rich in black raspberries, the size of the tumours decreased significantly. Further studies have shown that extracts of raspberries and blackberries may slow the growth of breast, cervical, colon and oesophageal cancers. Clinical trials have now begun to assess the effects of black raspberries on colon and oesophageal cancers in humans.

The Mac Blacks are being currently only being grown for Tesco. James Waddy, who is the soft fruit buyer for Tesco’s said, ‘Berries have had a lot of great publicity over the last few years because of their supposed great health qualities and since then we’ve seen demand rise each year. However, this year we have had perfect growing conditions with the warmest spring start for more than 20 years which has made the fruit especially juicy. We think the Mac Black could become a future star among berries and one day may even be more popular than the traditional red variety.’

Black raspberries can be cooked exactly as red raspberries in flans, pies and smoothies and are available now from Tescos at £2 a punnet.