Raspberry cultivation for fruit only became widespread in European countries by the 16th century (Jennings, 1988). Modern uses of Rubus, the blackberries and raspberries, include consumption as delicious fresh fruits and processed in jams, jellies, pastries, dairy products, and juices (Daubeny, 1996). Many breeders throughout the United States and Canada have developed plants with large succulent fruits having delicate sugar–acid ratios and complex flavors. These small or soft fruits have high antioxidant capacity, high anthocyanins, high vitamins, simple sugars, and high mineral content (Määtä-Riihinen et al., 2004; Moyer et al., 2002). Ancient references of Rubus in Western and Eastern traditions do not refer to berries as food; rather the stems, leaves, and other plant parts were prized for their medicinal properties (Beck, 2005). The object of this review is to summarize the uses of Rubus for health from antiquity to the present from a sampling of the wealth of historical data on this subject. Although the recent use of the fruits as fresh and processed foods represents a global multimillion dollar industry annually, interest in the medicinal qualities continues to expand.
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