Rubus idaeus, Rosaceae
Ellagic acid is a powerful plant antioxidant found in raspberries. In the plants, this biochemical helps to regulate growth and seed germination, protects them from microbial infections and heavy metal poisoning and prevents insects from eating them. However, more and more research is pointing to ellagic acid in these tasty fruits as a potent, natural weapon against cancer in humans.
Habitat: Cultivated in most temperate countries.
Collection: The leaves may be collected throughout the growing season. Dry slowly in a well-ventilated area to ensure proper preservation of properties.
Part Used: Leaves and fruit, seeds.
- Flavonoids, mainly glycosides of kaempferol and quercitin.
- Fruit sugar
- Volatile oil
- Citric acid
- Malic acid.
How Does Ellagic Acid Fight Cancer?
According to research by Gary Stoner, PhD, director of the cancer chemoprevention and etiology lab at Ohio State University, ellagic acid stimulates activities of enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Plus, ellagic acid is anti-mutagenic, antibacterial and antiviral as well as anti-carcinogenic!
- Acts as a scavenger that "binds" to cancer-causing chemicals and inactivates them
- Inhibits the ability of chemicals to cause dangerous mutations in bacteria
- Prevents cancer-causing substances from binding to DNA
- Reduces cancer in cultured human cells that have been exposed to carcinogens
- Promotes apoptosis, or cell death, of cancer cells without harming healthy cells, a process that may be beneficial in fighting prostate, breast, lung, esophageal and skin cancers
And, previous animal tests conducted by Stoner showed that eating large amounts of raspberries could fight esophageal and colon cancers. "We do believe that [raspberries] protect the esophagus and the colon because they are absorbed by these organs as the food moves through the digestive tract," Stoner said. "Black raspberries are loaded with nutrients and [plant chemicals] that may prevent the development of cancer."
Research at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has also found powerful cancer-fighting potential from ellagic acid. According to their studies, ellagic acid slows the growth of abnormal colon cells in humans and prevents cells infected with human papilloma virus (HPV), which is linked to cervical cancer, from developing.
Ellagic acid is not just good for fighting cancer. Studies have found that it may also fight heart disease, reduce the risk of birth defects and speed wound healing. Ellagic acid also:
- Fights the H. pylori bacteria that's linked to stomach ulcers
- Protects the liver and liver function
- Helps to reduce glucose levels, which can help keep diabetes under control
Furthermore, just-released research from the University of South Florida College of Medicine, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital and the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that eating certain antioxidant-rich foods like raspberries may also limit the damage done by strokes and other neurological disorders.
Where is Ellagic Acid Found?
Raspberries are by far the richest source of ellagic acid known by researchers to date. However, it appears that strawberries, pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, pecans and walnuts may also contain some, although in smaller amounts. Since it's not always possible to eat raspberries every day, if you want to add more of the powerful ellagic acid to your daily diet, Fruits of Life: Potent Cellular Protection is an exceptional and highly recommended choice (and it tastes good, too!) Fruits of Life is the first and only nutritional supplement to combine ellagic acid with the three other top antioxidant foods in a single whole food powder blend. So whether you add a handful of raspberries to your morning yogurt, snack on them throughout the day or prefer to fortify your diet with the great-tasting Fruits of Life, adding more of the powerful ellagic acid antioxidant to your day appears to be a smart move for your future.
Special points of interest:
- Red raspberries are also known as "cane berries" because they grow on erect stalks or "canes".
- Provide an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese.
- Very good source of copper and Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).1/2 cup of raspberries contains only 30 calories.
- Good source of folate, Vitamin B3 (niacin), biotin, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and Vitamin A.
The History of Raspberry
There are over 200 species of raspberries in the world: all are grouped as red, black, or golden. There are Roman records dating back as far as 4th Century AD which include the description of these berries. Some varieties of raspberries are native to North America, including the wild red raspberry. It is believed that raspberries that were native to overseas countries made their way to North America by being carried by travelers and animals that came across the Bering Sea during ancient times.
The propagation of these plants throughout North America seems to have occurred by similar means. As early food gatherers and hunters traveled far distances, they would often discard what they thought to be an inferior quality food: the smaller sized raspberries. Wild raspberry bushed then began growing along these routes. The first written mention of the cultivation of raspberries is found in an English book on herbal medicine dated 1548. The English cultivated, hybridized and improved the fruit throughout the Middle Ages. In North America, raspberries were considered a luxury well into the mid-1800's. They began to be grown more widely there in the 19th Century.
The Benefits of Raspberry
Raspberries are rich in ellagic acid. In fact, a clinic at the Hollings Cancer Institute at the University of South Carolina has identified the raspberry as having the highest content of this acid as compared to a wide variety of foods. Ellagic acid has been found to cause cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells in laboratory tests. It has been found that ellagic acid is causing a G-arrest (inhibiting and stopping mitosis-cancer cell division) within 48 hours and apoptosis within 72 hours for breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, colon and prostate cancer cells. Studies have shown that ellagic acid prevents the binding of carcinogens to DNA and strengthens connective tissue, which may keep cancer cells from spreading. Clinical tests also show that ellagic acid prevents the destruction of the P53 gene by cancer cells. Ellagic acid has also been said to reduce heart disease, birth defects, liver fibrosis and to promote wound healing.
Ellagic acid belongs to the family of photo nutrients called tannins, and is responsible for a good portion of the antioxidant activity of this (and other) berries. Another phyto nutrient component of the raspberry is flavonoid. These molecules are classified as anthocyanins, and belong to the group of substances giving raspberries their rich red coloring. The anthocyanins also give raspberries their unique antioxidant properties, as well as some antimicrobial ones. This includes the ability to prevent overgrowth of certain fungi and bacteria found in the body. Anthocyanins have been shown in studies to have numerous health benefits including preventing heart disease and cancer, controlling diabetes, improving circulation, reducing eye strain and even combating the loss of memory and motor skills associated with aging. Studies have also shown that raspberries help expel mucus, phlegm and toxins, They are excellent for female reproductive health. Raspberry leaf tea has been shown to reduce nausea during pregnancy.
Raspberries contain oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium and iron absorption. They should be avoided if you have bladder or kidney stones. They also contain salicylate and could cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to aspirin.