In 2020, The International Herb Association named the rubus the “herb of the year.”
Chances are, you’ve seen or eaten the fruit of this plant—rubus is the genus that includes raspberry, blackberry, and various wild bramble berries.
No. Nerdy botanists love to point out that blackberries and raspberries aren’t technically a “berry” but actually an “aggregate fruit.”
Each little seed-filled burst of goodness is called a drupelet— essentially a mini stone fruit.
In the land of botany, grapes, bananas, and tomatoes are berries, while strawberries and raspberries are not.
Rich in blue-purple-red pigments called anthocyanins, as well as related antioxidant-rich polyphenols and flavonoids, raspberries and blackberries are delicious local superfoods, somewhat similar in benefits to green tea.
These compounds decrease inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, discourage cancer, decrease inflammation, and improve the integrity of blood vessel lining.
The seeds are rich in fiber, essential fatty acids, and ellagic acid.
A diet rich in these berries also encourages good gut flora and a more vital microbiome.
They have a low glycemic index—which measures how quickly they spike blood sugar—a treat-with-benefits for people with diabetes when enjoyed unsweetened.
Obese people with Type 2 diabetes who incorporated raspberries into their daily diet had lower post-meal blood sugar and inflammatory markers compared to the control group.
High triglycerides and blood pressure also began to creep down after four weeks.
Blackberries have been shown to reduce insulin resistance.
Nonfruit parts of Rubus are notably astringent due to the presence of tannins.
Tannins tighten and tone tissues by binding to proteins and other compounds in the tissue and knitting them together. For health, tannins tighten up leaky gut, tone the skin and gums, offer antimicrobial properties, and have blood sugar-lowering properties.
Raspberry leaves are rich in minerals including iron and calcium, and in vitamin C.
Raspberry leaf tea is popularly consumed for general nutrition and to tighten and tone the uterus at all ages and during the last trimester or two of pregnancy to reduce birth complications.
“Blackberry feeding increases fat oxidation and improves insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese males” by P. Solverson et al., Nutrients, 8/9/18
“Dietary supplementation with raspberry extracts modifies the fecal microbiota in obese diabetic Db/Db mice” by J. Garcia-Mazcorro et al., Journal of Microbiology and Technology, 8/28/18
“Raspberries improve postprandial glucose and acute and chronic inflammation in adults with Type 2 diabetes” by J. Schell et al., Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2019
“Red raspberries and their bioactive polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and neuronal health links” by B.M. Burton-Freeman et al., Advances in Nutrition, 1/16
Rubus: Herb of the Year 2020 edited by Gert Coleman ($21.95, International Herb Association, 2020)
Contributor Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG)