The forces of Big Berry have been converging recently to plug the health benefits of the red raspberry. To that end, six new animal studies looking at the effects of red raspberries on chronic diseases ranging from diabetes mellitus to heart disease will be presented this week at the 2016 Experimental Biology conference in San Diego.
The conference is an opportunity for these and other studies to be presented and discussed among the scientific community.
Since all six raspberry studies are animal trials, it is important to remember that their usefulness in determining human effects is limited at this stage.
Many effects observed in animal trials do not translate into humans, but animal tests can offer some insight into possible mechanisms behind an effect and also suggest plausible avenues for human research.
Raspberry Animal Studies to Be Featured
- A University of Michigan study that looked at possible cardio-protective effects that eating red raspberries had on rates of people who were predisposed to becoming obese. Findings note no significant blood pressure, insulin, or weight gain, but show some reduced ventricular enlargement and wall thickening.
- An Oregon State University study that looked at whole raspberries and raspberry phytochemicals and how they influenced glucose control and gene expression in the liver when fed to rats alongside a high-fat, high-sugar Western-style diet. The study notes that there is more favorable gene expression in the raspberry-fed rats but does not have an explanation as to why.
- A Washington State University study looking at effects of red raspberries’ consumption on metabolic syndromes in mice given diet-induced obesity. Reported effects include improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
- A Texas A&M University study looking at the impact of red raspberries on diabetes-related complications (i.e. diabetes mellitus) and heart disease in obese, diabetic mice. The findings suggest red raspberries may play a role in reducing the wasting brought about by chronic diseases.
- Another Oregon State University study, this one looking at how ellagic acid and quercetin, among other phytochemicals, interact with fat oxidation in the liver.
- Lastly, a Texas Woman’s University study using mouse cells that examined possible anti-inflammatory effects of the polyphenols in red raspberries and how they influence the production of cells that are associated with bone deterioration. These findings suggest that raspberry polyphenols are able to inhibit some of the degrading effects of osteoclast cells, a type that can absorb bone tissue.
In addition to the earlier point about animal trials not often translating into human results, there is one distinct caveat to keep in mind when considering these studies.
All of this research, except the second Oregon State study (the one with ellagic acid), was funded by the National Processed Raspberry Council.
This is probably why all of the animals who were fed whole raspberries were specifically given freeze-dried versions. In fairness to Big Berry, their funding of the studies does not automatically invalidate the findings, but it does mean they need to be assessed with a more careful lens.
Fortunately the Experimental Biology conference is a good place to get the possible validity of the findings assessed and might inspire other scientists in attendance to try their own raspberry trials, potentially even with humans.
“Red Raspberry Research Abounds at 2016 Experimental Biology conference,” Eureka Alert web site, April 4, 2016; http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/wh-rrr040116.php, last accessed April 8, 2016.
Thomas, A., et. al., “Inhibitory Effects of Red Raspberry Polyphenols on Osteoclastogenesis in RANKL-Stimulated RAW264.7 Murine Macrophages,” The FASEB Journal, 2016; http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/691.31.abstract?sid=7da3f0a9-5544-4bf6-a0b1-2fb79c8fa210.
Sakasi, G., et. al., “Ellagic Acid and Quercetin are High-Affinity Ligands of Human Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Alpha in an In-Vitro Competitive Binding Assay,” The FASEB Journal, 2016; http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/691.7.abstract?sid=acbda6a6-18f2-423b-b867-f283a5d74756.
Noratto, G., et. al., “Effects of Raspberry Dietary Supplementation on Risk Biomarkers of Diabetes Related Complications and Heart Disease in Diabetic Mice,” The FASEB Journal, 2016; http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/692.23.abstract?sid=e12131c9-e0af-46a8-be88-27f1650deea9.