Eating Black Raspberries Can Reduce Itchy Symptoms In Skin Allergies, Study Finds

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Black Raspberries Growing On The Vine

There's nothing quite like biting into a juicy piece of fresh fruit. And on a particularly sweltering summer day, those thirst-quenching fruits can feel especially refreshing.

Well, according to new research, there's another reason you might want to consider picking at a fruit plate (namely, one with berries): A recent study found that eating black raspberries (note: not blackberries) can reduce itchiness and inflammation associated with skin allergies. A promising milestone in the quest for healthy, soft skin.

First, what in the world is a black raspberry?

If you routinely pick up black raspberries at your local farmers market, feel free to skip on to the research at hand. But for many of us, the notion of a black raspberry may garner a collective, Huh? 

To put it simply, the fruit is a variant of the original red raspberry, commonly grown in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. As mentioned, they're not quite the same as blackberries—while both may look similar upon first glance, black raspberries differ in texture and taste. First, the little drupelets on black raspberries are covered in tiny hairs (like your typical raspberry), while blackberries appear smooth on the surface. Black raspberries also have a hollow center (again, like its red counterpart), while blackberries usually have a white or green core. In terms of taste, many regard black raspberries as sweeter and less tart than blackberries. 

Even if you haven't noticed the berry lining supermarket shelves, black raspberries have been long studied for their anti-inflammatory properties; in fact, previous studies have shown the fruit can manage chronic inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis, even having anti-carcinogenic effects. It only makes sense the berries could benefit skin inflammation as well. 

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What they found. 

To determine whether the berry has a place in skin care, researchers put a group of mice on a black raspberry diet, one that's equivalent to a single serving per day for humans. After three weeks, they exposed these mice to common triggers that cause contact hypersensitivity (a condition that causes redness and inflammation in the skin, similar to contact dermatitis). The result? They found the mice's swelling actually went down, compared to the control group.

An important point to note here: It's not that the black raspberries were neutralizing the irritant, per se; rather, the scientists found that black raspberries help temper the immune system itself. The berries seem to affect certain cells that tell the immune system the perceived allergen is not a threat—and thus, no allergic reaction. As Steve Oghumu, Ph.D., senior author of the study and an assistant professor of pathology at the Ohio State University, puts it, "A lot of the bad effects that we see are not always due to the pathogens or allergens themselves but are due to the way our body responds to these triggers. And so one way to manage these types of diseases is controlling that response, and that is one of the things black raspberries appear to be able to do." 

What's next?

Of course, this is only the beginning in terms of black raspberries' effects on skin; Oghumu says a deeper dive is needed before we should stock up on black raspberries for skin health this summer. Specifically, he and his team are curious about what properties make those berries so anti-inflammatory. 

Nonetheless, it's exciting to see how a simple, sweet berry can have such protective benefits for the skin. Oghumu agrees: "A lot of times, treatments are directly applied to the skin. It was interesting that the mere consumption of a fruit can achieve the same effects," he says in a news release. And just in case you needed some more good news: These skin-healthy berries are in season. 

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