It is that time of the year when raspberries are in season. Make them a part of your daily diet. The health benefits are outstanding.
Fragrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone and almost-melt-in-your-mouth texture, raspberries are wonderfully delicious and are usually in limited supply. Most cultivated varieties of raspberries are grown in California from June through October.
 
A member of the rose family and a bramble fruit like the blackberry, raspberries are delicately structured with a hollow core. Raspberries are known as "aggregate fruits" since they are a compendium of smaller seed-containing fruits, called drupelets, that are arranged around a hollow central cavity.
 
Red raspberry is most often the source of a dietary supplement sold in many health food stores called ellagic acid. This substance found naturally in raspberries belongs to the family of phytonutrients called tannins, and it is viewed as being responsible for a good portion of the antioxidant activity of this (and other) berries.
 
In addition to their unique phytonutrient content, raspberries are filled with traditional nutrients, primarily in the antioxidant and B vitamin categories. Raspberries emerged from our nutrient ranking system as an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, two critical antioxidant nutrients that help protect the body''s tissue from oxygen-related damage. They also qualified as a good source of riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and copper. Coupled with this strong B vitamin and mineral content, raspberries qualified as "excellent" in terms of dietary fiber. This combination of nutrients makes raspberries a great fruit choice for having minimal impact on blood sugars.

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved over 110,000 women and men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants'' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARMD, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARMD, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but raspberries can help you reach this goal. Top your morning cereal or lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh raspberries. Transform the taste and presentation of any green salad with a handful of raspberries and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Blend frozen raspberries with a spoonful of honey and some vanilla soy milk, freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint for an elegant, healthy treat.